The more experience I’ve gained on my mental health journey, the better I’ve gotten at recognizing my depression and the reasons behind it. That being said, depression can still be tricky. There are times where I feel like I know exactly why I feel depressed; other times, it’s like a feeling or emotion comes out of nowhere. The wintertime is actually one of the trickiest times to recognize my feelings. Is it just a time of seasonal sadness, or is it something I need to look into further?
As I’ve written in previous posts, the wintertime isn’t easy. There are many ways that the wintertime can make us feel symptoms of depression. There are short days and cold nights; people aren’t as available to get together for social events as they might be other times of the year; and there’s an increased focus on reflecting on the year you’ve had that can make it difficult for many. This is a time of year that can feel magical one day, and the saddest day the next.
But how can you tell when something’s really wrong? I’ve written posts about the signs of depression, about looking out for different symptoms and noticing patterns that seem out of the ordinary, but it’s more complicated than that. There is so much going on all at once and for a lot of people, taking a step back and disengaging from the busyness is often the only way they know how to get the rest they need. If that starts happening more often than usual, that could be a sign something is wrong.
When you experience depression and anxiety on a regular basis, you get to know yourself and your limits quite well. Instead of relying on a desire to do something (something you can’t always afford to do), I rely on whether or not I have the capability to do something in the moment. If I can’t, I might take a minute or two and then reassess. This is how I move through most of my days during the winter season, and I wish there was more room for others to do the same.
So many mental health advocates talk about how “it’s okay to not be okay,” and this couldn’t be more true during this time of year. We don’t always need to qualify why we’re hurting or sad, and we can be depressed without meaning that we’re dealing with depression.
Definitions and clear-cut plans can be very helpful on our mental health journeys, but they aren’t always required for mental wellness. Sometimes we just need to look at what’s in front of us, and ask ourselves what we need in the moment. And many times, that’s exactly what we need.