S.A.D. from Dominique Alston

I am an empath. I am an introvert. And what is standing out to me now more than ever before while attempting to write this post is that I also struggle with Imposter Syndrome. This alone made it incredibly difficult to know how to approach this article, and for that reason I took a step back while re-reading a few of Great Britt’s entries where I learned from her recent September 2020 post that she started this blog as a means to be an open honest type of journaling experience into her deeper thoughts.

Excerpt from “FEEL GREAT: A JOURNAL ENTRY FROM GREAT BRITT”

I channeled this as inspiration to let go of my inhibitions and write this article the same way I feel she initially intended and envisioned FEEL GOOD RVA. 

For the past several weeks since initially tweeting about wanting to share a list of pleasure events for those in need and Great Britt contacting me to share my outlook on Season Affective Disorder (SAD)

I was thinking just about everyday “who are you to speak about SAD?! You are not a licensed clinician and you are by no means qualified to do this”.  It was each one of these self-ridiculing anxious thoughts that has kept me from sharing sooner. As I now allow the words to flow freely, I am finally coming around to realize and understand that I am a person who has lived this experience.

While underqualified on paper, it still makes me a person who understands, a person who can relate, and a person who deeply empathizes with those who share in this shift with me.

Year over year I’ve dealt with SAD and watched countless friends, acquaintances, and strangers across various social media platforms attempt to live with the struggles of “winter blues”. So, again, for anyone wondering (namely myself) here are my current qualifications to dive into this post on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):

Photo by Ave Calvar Martinez on Pexels.com

LIFE.

To be super technical for a moment, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), now refers to SAD as Major Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern. Although not everyone experiences all the following symptoms, the classic characteristics of Major Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern include:

  • Hypersomnia (or oversleeping)
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Craving carbohydrates

Many people may experience other symptoms as well, including:

  • Decreased sexual interest
  • Lethargy
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Lack of interest in usual activities and decreased socialization

Typically beginning around October/November and subsiding around March/April at the peak of Spring equinox.

This time of year, for me, is ordinarily filled with sleeping way too much, lack of interest in any outdoor adventures, and an all over “blah” feeling when it comes to leaving my safe space, home. That “blah” feeling would also manifest in other areas of my life and in activities that I typically found enjoyable. As a result, I’d end up being hypercritical of myself and only worsening my overall mood. Until this year, this year I was very optimistic about what I’d do differently to combat that yearly feeling that always seemed to worsen as the holidays approach, as I have been working tirelessly at implementing healthy coping skills. Then terror struck in 2020, and I’ve spent more time than ever thinking about how I’ll manage these next few months given COVID-19.

Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com – (Model unknown)

Over the last several months, I’ve found peace in soaking up the sun and going on long walks to keep me sane. In the past, when I felt withdrawn or distant from friends because it simply felt too cold to even think about leaving the comfort of my own home. I always knew that the option was still there. Now, I’m looking for other ways to spark joy while still maintaining a safe environment for myself and those I may come into contact with. I choose to embrace earlier sunsets and colder evenings, but also know I’ll need to come up with a plan of how to prevent falling into a slump or at the very least what I’ll do to pull myself out of a low should I happen to slip. 

That’s where the Pleasant Events List comes in. I am a huge advocate for mental health awareness, and I am 100% the friend who will tell you to consider seeing a therapist if you find yourself struggling to maintain peace of mind. With that being said, I actually got this list from my own therapist and wanted to share it because I have reaped the benefits of referencing it on many occasions. In the above tweet I say “simple” because you may view some of these activities and think “well I already do this daily”, but the key is to do each event mindfully, with intention, and at times when you least feel like it. That will make all the difference in the world!

1.     Soaking in the bathtub89.    Working
2.     Planning my career90.    Discussing books
3.     Getting out of (paying on) debt91.    Sightseeing
4.     Collecting things (coins, shells, etc.)92.    Gardening
5.     Going on vacation93.    Going to the beauty parlor
6.     Thinking how it will be when I finish school94.    Early morning coffee and newspaper
7.     Recycling old items95.    Playing tennis
8.     Going on a date96.    Kissing
9.     Relaxing97.    Watching my children (play)
10.    Going to a movie in the middle of the week98.    Thinking I have a lot more going for me than most people
11.    Jogging, walking99.    Going to plays and concerts
12.    Thinking I have done a full day’s work100.   Daydreaming
13.    Listening to music101.   Planning to go to school
14.    Recalling past parties102.   Thinking about sex
15.    Buying household gadgets103.   Going for a drive
16.    Lying in the sun104.   Listening to a stereo
17.    Planning a career change105.   Refinishing furniture
18.    Laughing106.   Watching TV
19.    Thinking about my past trips107.   Making lists of tasks
20.    Listening to others108.   Going bike riding
21.    Reading magazines or newspapers109.   Walks in the woods (or at the waterfront)
22.    Hobbies (stamp collecting, model building, etc.)110.   Buying gifts
23.    Spending an evening with good friends111.   Traveling to national parks
24.    Planning a day’s activities112.   Completing a task
25.    Meeting new people113.   Collecting shells
26.    Remembering beautiful scenery114.   Going to a spectator sport (auto racing, horse racing)
27.    Saving money115.   Eating gooey, fattening foods
28.    Gambling116.   Teaching
29.    Going home from work117.   Photography
30.    Eating118.   Going fishing
31.    Practicing karate, judo, yoga119.   Learn to say 30 words in another language
32.    Thinking about retirement120.   Staying on a diet
33.    Repairing things around the house121.   Playing with animals
34.    Working on my car (bicycle)122.   Flying a plane
35.    Remembering the words and deeds of loving people123.   Reading fiction
36.    Wearing sexy clothes124.   Acting
37.    Having quiet evenings125.   Being alone
38.    Taking care of my plants126.   Writing diary entries or letters
39.    Buying, selling stock127.   Cleaning
40.    Going swimming128.   Reading nonfiction
41.    Doodling129.   Taking children places
42.    Exercising130.   Dancing
43.    Collecting old things131.   Going on a picnic
44.    Going to a party132.   Thinking “I did that pretty well” after doing something
45.    Thinking about buying things133.   Meditating
46.    Playing golf134.   Playing volleyball
47.    Playing soccer135.   Having lunch with a friend
48.    Flying kites136.   Going to the mountains
49.    Having discussions with friends137.   Thinking about having a family
50.    Having family get-togethers138.   Thoughts about happy moments in my childhood
51.    Riding a motorbike139.   Splurging
52.    Sex140.   Playing cards
53.    Running a track141.   Solving riddles mentally
54.    Going camping142.   Having a political discussion
55.    Singing around the house143.   Playing softball
56.    Arranging flowers144.   Seeing and/or showing photos or slides
57.    Practicing religion (going to church, group praying, etc.)145.   Learn a new instrument
58.    Losing weight146.   Knitting
59.    Going to the beach147.   Doing crossword puzzles
60.    Thinking I’m an OK person148.   Shooting pool
61.    A day with nothing to do149.   Dressing up and looking nice
62.    Having class reunions150.   Reflecting on how I’ve improved
63.    Going skating151.   Buying things for myself (perfume, golf balls, etc.)
64.    Going sail boating152.   Talking on the phone
65.    Traveling abroad or in the United States153.   Going to museums
66.    Go to the library or bookstore154.   Thinking religious thoughts
67.    Doing something spontaneously155.   Lighting candles
68.    Doing needlepoint, crewel, etc.156.   Listening to the radio
69.    Sleeping157.   Getting a massage
70.    Driving158.   Saying “I love you”
71.    Entertaining159.   Thinking about my good qualities
72.    Going to clubs (garden, Parents without Partners, etc.)160.   Buying books
73.    Thinking about getting married161.   Taking a sauna or a steam bath
74.    Going hunting162.   Going skiing
75.    Singing with groups163.   White-water canoeing
76.    Flirting164.   Going bowling
77.    Playing musical instruments165.   Doing woodworking
78.    Doing arts and crafts166.   Fantasizing about the future
79.    Making a gift for someone167.   Taking ballet, tap dancing
80.    Buying records168.   Debating
81.    Watching boxing, wrestling169.   Sitting in a sidewalk cafe
82.    Planning parties170.   Having an aquarium
83.    Cooking171.   Erotica (sex books, movies)
84.    Going hiking172.   Going horseback riding
85.    Writing books (poems, articles)173.   Becoming active in the community
86.    Sewing174.   Buy some watercolors and paint a picture
87.    Buying clothes175.   Making jigsaw puzzles
88.    Going out to dinner176.   Thinking I’m a person who can cope

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