According to the British National Health Service (NHS) Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is:
“a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe during the winter…
Symptoms of SAD can include:
- a persistent low mood
- a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
- sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
- craving carbohydrates and gaining weight”
When a friend mentioned this to me, first in September, then in March. I thought it helped explain how it seemed I had been in an inescapable state of depression for the past few months. I moved from Cape Town to London in September. So I moved from Spring to Autumn. Replayed winter. And it has been SAD. I have been SAD.
Depression however, is not uncommon to me, though undiagnosed as a child, as an adult, I have come to understand, why I felt the way I did as a child. Responded to situations the way I did. I was used to the feelings of despair.
of feeling numb and
running out of oxygen.
But it had always come in waves.
it would ebb,
smack me down.
interrupt me mid sentence,
sometimes I would wake up to it.
– that inexplicable feeling of enormous grief.
In London, I felt that I have lived under a cloud of inexplicable grief. Yes, there are moments I smile, have sudden bursts of energy, feel myself become lighter and love the company of others. Yet overwhelmingly, I am SAD.
Yet, this state of SADness, is not completely tenebrous, I believe it has taught me so much about myself. Mostly from the SADness, I have learnt to be still within myself. To take deeper breaths. I have learnt about the ways in which I could still retain who I am in academic spaces, that attempt to break and re-mould me into something foreign. I have taken deeper breaths. Fallen in love with silence, staring at the minutest details.
It is the SADness that has brought me back to parts of myself I had thought I had lost forever. Most importantly, my creative side. In this state, I find that I am painting, writing, drawing, singing, creating in new ways that surprise me everyday. I think, if anything I keep falling in love with the womxn I am becoming.
It was this new self-assured me, that attempted a brave little trip into the English countryside by herself. I chose, remote as possible, foreign as possible and a place I could be among my favourite thing: the still beauty of the earth. So off I went to a little farm cottage in Guestling, East Essex.
I was to spend two nights there, and I had big plans to read, write, go venturing out to the sea, perhaps hike. But alas, even in that beauty, there I was again, SAD. I did take the meditative moments I had intended, I spent a lot of time preparing semi-elaborate meals, I drank copious amounts of tea. But on my second and only full day there, I spent most of it sleeping. Almost unable to move.
But I have long since stopped beating myself up for these types of moments. Because, during the brief moments I got up, I ventured about. Sat still within myself and just breathed. In and out. I was still. This, I am finding, is my new magic. More and more I am finding, I am self-assured. I am not afraid of getting lost in strange places. Of wasting time. I am not even afraid of the dirty stares of racists. I know who I am. And even when I am SAD. I am Unwaveringly Myself. Depression- seasonal or not does not define me.
*All photos by Mamello Mosiana, please credit if reposting.
4 thoughts on “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): A Photo Essay”
“Depression- seasonal or not does not define me” is a very powerful mantra. Beautiful essay
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Lovely words and visuals to match.
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