Put your arm around your seasonal depression

Illustration by Monique Rojas |The Signal

Have you ever gotten extremely upset around the same time every year?  Students with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) have faced many challenges, not just in 2020. Along with sleep deprivation and social withdrawal, most individuals experience bouts of depression. These symptoms, paired with the stigma of the “winter blues,” can make it hard to overcome SAD.

Tackling mental illness takes many forms, but actor Jeff Bridges passed on some useful advice to comedian Bill Hader regarding his anxiety issues. 

“That’s your buddy, man. Put your arm around it,” he said.

Making your SAD, your friend is so important to the process. It may be a challenge to face all the symptoms, but taking your issues by the hand and accepting it may be more rewarding than pushing it down. 

What may look like laziness or flakiness to some may very well just be a person learning to be gentle with themselves and practicing boundaries,” Georgia State senior Stephanie Pimiento said. 

As we have begun to unpack mental health in the last few decades, many illnesses are overlooked and can make people feel more alone than they already do. Students need to understand that SAD is not just wanting to stay in your room; it is different parts of your brain, working out how to respond to each other. Do not feel ashamed if you want to sleep instead of going out or crying instead of laughing. Pushing down these symptoms do not allow you to understand what’s happening to you. 

SAD is something you should approach each day and take care of, not fight. 

However, according to Georgia State senior Sydney Finn, this self-care level can be hard to achieve. 

“Unfortunately, I have never been one to coexist with my anxiety and depression. Instead of responding, I react [and] I try to ignore it until it builds to a head and I’m dying,” Finn said. “I consistently ignore what makes me upset.”

SAD this season looked a little different, and sufferers had many different responses to the trials of 2020. 

“I told myself that quarantine is relieving me of social pressures and finally giving me the opportunity to make my living space cozy and practice a healthy relationship with solitude,”  Pimiento said. 

However, along with the rest of the world, students lost many aspects of their college experience. Whether they had a long commute, boring lecture or nerve-wracking speech, class time was not always a high point. Now, having a class in-person is a golden ticket. People with SAD are inside for almost a year, and it can be a challenge to see the positives. 

“I honestly felt like I used to have the ability to control somewhat my reactions to the things that set me off, but this year has proved otherwise,” Finn said. “Staying inside has made me sadder.” 

There are many ways to combat mental illness. Breaking the stigma within yourself is a crucial way to approach SAD. Rather than pushing your condition away, learn to understand it and set yourself up for success. It may be easier said than done, but I do know an easy first step: put your arm around it.