How to Deal with Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Image shows a man in a green, red and white sweater with his arms folded on a table with a "holiday" table cloth. He appears depressed and in the blurred background are holiday lights and decorations.
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Do You Have Depression Wrapped Under Your Tree?

December can be a time of giving, celebration, and the coming together of family and friends, right? For some, it is also a time of depression. At the end of December, do you find yourself looking around your living room at the scraps of wrapping paper and discarded bows and thinking, “Guess that’s over. Now what?”

  1. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  2. Know Thyself
  3. Look What Santa Left in My Stocking–Chaos!
  4. Spread the Love
  5. Preventing a Blue Christmas or a Ho-Hum Hanukkah
  6. Conclusion

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Recognizing What it is

According to the American Psychiatric Association:

Seasonal affective disorder* is a form of depression also known as SAD, seasonal depression or winter depression. In the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), this disorder is identified as a type of depression – Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern.

psychiatry.org

There are many people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is usually experienced during the Winter months in places where the weather is typically colder. People are staying inside more, the sun isn’t as bright, and there are less signs of life outside. For those prone to depression, these aspects of Winter can exacerbate the feelings of loss and hopelessness. For those who celebrate holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, they can get a quick “pick-me-up,” but after these celebrations are over, there is an almost immediate feeling of loss. There are things you can do, however, to help assuage these negative emotions.

Know Thyself

The first step in being able to prevent unwanted emotions is recognizing their presence. Most people who are prone to depression are aware that they experience it, but they don’t always know how it starts. Preparing yourself beforehand and getting a head start will help greatly. 

First of all, recognize that an emotional high (associated with a holiday celebration, for instance) will not last forever and will inevitably be followed by a drop in elevated mood. This is normal for anyone.The problem for someone who suffers from depression is that the variance in emotion is much greater and will drop to an unhealthy level. The question is, how do you prevent that from happening?

Look What Santa Left in My Stocking–Chaos!

If you are a part of a married or extended family, the holiday season is hectic. In my own family growing up, we opened presents on Christmas morning, went to my grandparents’ house to celebrate and open gifts with them, and then went to my great aunt and uncle’s house for a Christmas dinner later that day. Why do we try to cram everything into one day? Because it’s Christmas and you have to celebrate it on Christmas Day, right? No, you don’t.

Everyone can choose when to celebrate anything they want. Yes, I know there are traditions and many people insist on adhering to certain ones quite strictly, but everyone has a choice to make: Is it more important to follow tradition or to improve your mental health?

Spread the Love

Instead of trying to stuff everything into one day like a Thanksgiving turkey, spread it out a bit. If your mother insists that it’s “just not the same on any other day,” let her have her day and you celebrate on another day, maybe even after the new year has begun. Did I hear a *gasp*? Well, why not? The kids are still out of school, the tree or menorah can stay up a little longer. Don’t worry about Mrs. Kravitz across the street, peering out her window and tsk-ing in judgment. It’s your menorah; you can take it down whenever you want! 

I wouldn’t recommend leaving Santa and his reindeer out on the lawn until the 4th of July, but until the end of January? That doesn’t seem so bad. Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are a little more spread out, but Christmas is just one day a year. Are we reallly going to create all that hype for just one day? The point is, no one can make you celebrate on a certain day and spreading out the merriment can help with the transition out of the holidays.

Preventing a Blue Christmas or a Ho-Hum Hanukkah

Here are some suggestions for other activities:

  1. New Year’s Eve – Of course, the first major holiday after Hannukkuh, Kwanzaa and Christmas is New Year’s Eve. Go to a party, plan your own, put a hat on your dog and watch the ball drop on television.
  1. White Elephant – You know you’re going to receive a gift that just… isn’t you. Maybe you don’t like it, maybe it just doesn’t fit quite right. Plan a Post-Holiday White Elephant party. Wrap up that newly-acquired ceramic hippopotamus cookie jar and do a gift exchange. Just be careful with this one–make sure whomever you invite is not the giver of the gift you’re giving away!
  1. Chinese New Year – In 2023, the Chinese New Year falls on January 22nd and, incidentally, is the year of the Rabbit. So, hop to a party and even celebrate its culmination with the Lantern Festival on February 5th.
  1. If you live in a place that has decent amounts of snowfall, invite the neighborhood to join together for a snowman-building contest. Maybe the winner gets the opportunity to go to the other houses and knock down the other ones–with their permission, of course (sounds fun to me!).
  2. Pick a day and binge-read all of my other blog posts. Doesn’t THAT sound like fun?! Hahaha!

I’m sure there are many other activities in which you can participate during the post-holiday season. The point is to extend the celebrations and create for yourself things to anticipate that you will enjoy. In fact, I would like readers to suggest some activities in the comment section.

Conclusion

Depression doesn’t have to take over your life. Tell Winter she’s a b!$©# and she’s not going to ruin your mood! Then, take those empty stockings off the fireplace, put them on your feet and go out in the snow to have some fun!

*This article is my own personal advice and is not meant to be taken in place of a mental health professional.

Copyright © 2022 Brandon Ellrich

Thanks for reading! If this post was helpful in any way, please click the like button and leave a comment as well. Follow me if you would like to receive updates whenever new posts are published.

If you liked this post, you may alo like Do We Need a Reason to Socialize? and How Do You Find Your Purpose?

Calico

A Cat Poem

Image shows a close-up of the face of a Calico cat
“Zoe” photo by Brandon Ellrich
Dear calico, sweet calico,
From whence you came, I do not know.

Black and brown spots, white beneath,
Even the bottoms of your feet.

No symmetry in your design,
Yet balanced as you walk the line.

With mysterious, golden stare,
Picaso’s work cannot compare.

Lovely genetic selection,
You are perfect imperfection!

Copyright © 2022 Brandon Ellrich
Image is a photo of a calico cat sleeping on a sofa
Photo by Brandon Ellrich

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this poem, please click the like button and leave a comment as well. Follow me if you would like to receive updates whenever new posts are published.

*Originally published on Medium

Rowen Winter

Image shows a dead tree in the middle of a body of water. In the background are hills with trees and snow.
Photo by Yunus Eren Tekneci on Pexels.com

*This is a chain verse using a string of Haikus

Rowen Winter

ode to our Mother
Earth in this winter season
unable to cry

crime of our passion
shunning the awe of nature
urn holds the ashes

she’s grieving the loss
ostracized to mourn alone
owns no blame herself

selfish disregard
guarding our own interest
estranged from nature

urn holds the ash of
overharvested flora
rubbish unneeded

dead by our own hand
hand over fist our rowen
Winter’s upon us

Copyright © 2022 Brandon Ellrich

This poem was written in response to David’s W3 Prompt #30: Wea’ve Written Weekly at The Skeptic’s Kaddish, so pleae visit his page to read other responses.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this poem, please click the like button and leave a comment as well. Follow me if you would like to receive updates whenever new posts are published.

Are You Thankful for Failures?

Are You Thankful for Failures? - image shows a hand holding a pen and has just finished writing the words "thank you" in cursive on a brown sheet of paper.
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I wrote an article two years ago called Thankful? It has received the most “likes” and comments of all my posts, so I thought I would take it and revise/update it for this year’s Thanksgiving.

Since it is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, I thought I should write something in regard to that occasion. In many households, it is a tradition to go around the dinner table and ask each person what he/she is thankful for. For this post, I wanted to do something a little bit different.

Showing Gratitude, Sometimes Not Easy

Naturally, we should all be thankful and show appreciation for people in our lives who have had a positive influence on us. Many of us would not achieve success or be as healthy or happy if not for the assistance or influence of certain individuals who have crossed our paths. Sometimes we may get caught up in the busyness of our lives and forget to show our gratitude, but if we stop to think about it, it should become apparent who has been that positive influencing factor.

For some people, showing thankfulness is not easy. If you are not one of these individuals, it may be difficult for you to understand this. Showing gratitude means that you must acknowledge that someone has done something for you, and of course, that you have accepted this gesture. It requires humbling yourself, in a way, and some may see this as a weakness, that they shouldn’t need help. For this reason, they have difficulty expressing their gratitude, hence exposing the fact that they may have required some kind of assistance in the first place or that they didn’t ask for your kind word of sympathy, etc.

In some cultures outside of the United States, showing gratitude is reserved for those who are not close to you. I was listening to the podcast episode Hidden Brain: Decoding Emotions, and the guest said that in the Dutch culture, she would not thank her husband for bringing her a cup of coffee, for instance. Saying “thank you” was reserved for the neighbors, let’s say–people who are mere acquaintences.

Not Focusing on the Negative

I thought briefly about asking what you are NOT thankful for. These things are almost always blatantly obvious, as they usually prevent us from getting something we want or cause us pain or distress in some way. Maybe it’s just my pessimistic side, but I think it’s easy to find things to complain about. There are a lot of evil and selfish people in the world and they can often get in the way of our own goals, whether noble or selfish themselves.

Aside from that, there are sometimes circumstances that are no one’s fault, but still hinder whatever progress we are attmepting to make to move forward with our intentions. Focusing on the negativity is too easy, and I did not want to focus on such a negative aspect of our lives, anyway; it does no one any good.

Rejection or Rejuvenation?

Failures are seen by most people as negative occurrences in our journeys through life. After all, if we try something, we presumably want to succeed at whatever that thing may be. A failure would then stop us from reaching that achievement. Of course, we then have the choice to either put forth another attempt, go about it in a different way, or simply give up on that particular venture. If you choose to see failure as a negative thing, you are most likely going to fall into the category of those who choose to give up. However, if you see failure as more of a learning experience and use it as a stepping stone, of sorts, to achieve something greater, it can certainly be a positive and powerful tool.

As a writer/author, I have been rejected many times; it comes with the territory. I do not allow those rejections to translate into failures, though. I know that I am a good writer and I continue to pursue my passion. I have received enough encouragement and validation from others to help me keep going. If not for this encouragement, I admit that I would most certainly question whether or not I should be continuing in this pursuit. If I am rejected by one source, I simply believe that it was not the right timing or not the right company or publisher. It is merely a stepping stone or learning experience to help me to achieving a desired success.

On that note, I would like to take this time in my post to thank those of you who have provided such encouragement and support for my writing. I truly do value your feedback and your appreciation for the words I put out into the world. Clicking on the “like” button helps me to know which posts are of some value and that you would like to read more of the same type of content, so I hope you will remember to do that.

Feedback

Looking back over your life thus far, what past failure has given you the motivation to achieve something you otherwise would not have done? Maybe there was an individual who discouraged you in some way, yet at the same time, lit a fire that caused you to keep going. Has there been a door closed on an opportunity that has led to another door or window to open? Was there a roadblock that stopped you, and you later realized that following that path would have put you in a worse state than where you are now?

So, my question to you is: What failure are you most thankful for? This question can be rhetorical and for your own reflection, or you can post in the comment section below.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, please click the like button to let me know. Please share it with someone else if you think it may be of some benefit. Follow me if you would like to receive updates whenever new posts are published.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out Thank You, Critics.

Happy Birthday, Sadje!

Image shows a pineapple with a gold party hat and aviator-type sunglasses.
Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Pexels.com
Sadje, a happy birthday to you,
A nicer person, we never knew.

Your support means everything to us;
To know you, we should all feel blessed.

From all the comments and words you write,
Your positive spirit makes us light.

From all corners of the globe, we say,
We hope you have a happy birthday!

If you aren’t aware, Sadje is one of our dear blogger friends. She is always a supportive and positive light, as well as a talented writer. Please check out her page at Keep it Alive.

Eatin’ My Thanksgivin’ Meal

A Poem

Image shows eight people sitting around a table of food, all of them reaching toward the middle with their glasses clinking together as in a toast.
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com
I’ll start off with the roasted turkey,
Give it to me now; don’t be a jerky!

I’ll start off with the roasted turkey,
Give it to me now; don’t be a jerky!

My favorite dish is homemade stuffin’,
I want it right now and I ain’t bluffin’!

Then I’ll eat green bean casserole,
Gimme them beans ‘fore I lose control!

I love me some lumpy mashed p’taters,
I need ’em now and I don’t mean later!

For dessert I’ll have the pumpkin pie,
Add some whipped cream and don’t ask why!

You may think that I’ve had enough,
But I ain’t done ’til I’m good and stuffed!

Copyright © 2022 Brandon Ellrich

*originally published on Medium 

This poem is in response to Sadje’s What do you see # 161- November 21, 2022, so please visit her page to participate and/or read other responses.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please click the like button and leave a comment as well. Follow me if you would like to receive updates whenever new posts are published.

If you liked this poem, you may also like Give Thanks, Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Appetizer.

Thanksgiving “Appetizer”

Thanksgiving Appetizer - image shows a view from above a dinner table where people around the table are passing food to one another.
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com
If you eat your Thanksgiving turkey,
And you’re feeling kind of jerky,

‘Cause you look at family members,
And it prompts you to remember,

All the arguments you’ve had,
With your uncle and your dad.

You start getting indigestion,
But I have a good suggestion:

If you have a grateful attitude,
And your heart is filled with gratitude,

And you focus on what’s good,
Treating people like you should,

You’ll feel better in your tummy,
And your meal will be more yummy.

You won’t get your feelings hurt,
And be happy for dessert.

If your anger is reserved,
By the time the pie is served,

You’ll be able to truly say,
You’ve had a great Thanksgiving Day!

Copyright © 2022 Brandon Ellrich

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post, please click the like button and leave a comment. Follow me if you would like to receive updates whenever new posts are published.

If you liked this Thanksgiving poem, look for my post on Thursday when I write about a twist on a Thanksgiving tradition.

Mouse Without Tale

Image is a headshot of Matthew Shepard
Image from wikipedia

It’s been a little over 24 years since Matthew Shepard was murdered. If you don’t recognize that name, there is plenty of information on the web, in addition to a movie about the incident.You can also visit The Matthew Shepard Foundation to lend your support.

This poem was written in response to W3 Prompt #29: Wea’ve Written Weekly on The Skeptic’s Kaddish, so please visit his page to read other responses.

This is a Blitz poem, in case you were wondering about the form.

Before you read on, this one is rather graphic, which is not my normal style. Sometimes I think we must be shocked in order to create awareness, evoke emotion and spur us to action. Last month marked the “anniversary” (I hate using that word to mark such a horrible occurence) of his death, and along with a couple other conversations I had this week, it just got me thinking about the discrimination and violence that is perpetrated toward marginalized groups. That is the place from which I wrote this.

Mouse Without Tale

Quiet as a mouse
Quiet in the house
Mouse on the loose
Mouse has a noose
Noose around the neck
Noose above the deck
Deck him in the eye
Deck him ‘til he cries
Cries but why bother
Cries for his mother
Mother fucker makes me sick
Mother fucker likes the dick
Dick lover
Dick Discovered
Discovered your secret
Discovered Can’t keep it
It’s out
You’re out
Out Now you’ve lost it
Out of the closet
Closet of lies
Closet can’t hide
Hiding whore
Hiding no more
More sticks and beer
More kicks Queer
Queer as fuck
Queer as a duck
Duck your head
Duck or you’re dead
Dead little girl
Dead to the world
World unknowing
World keeps going
Going without you
Going to doubt you
You’ll go to Hell
Better not tell
Tell your story
Tell and be sorry
Sorry you survived
Sorry you’re alive
Alive but not living
Alive but not giving
Giving details
Giving your tale
Tale about violence
Tale that is silenced
Silenced
Violence

Copyright © 2022 Brandon Ellrich

Thanks for reading. If you were moved by this poem, please click the like button and leave a comment as well. Follow me if you would like to receive updates whenever new posts are published.

Stay safe