As much as I love being cozy on a snowy day, listening to the crackling fires, and all the Christmas spirit, I absolutely cannot wait for Spring. It's that time of the season where it feels it is coming to an end, you can hear the birds start to sing, the sun rises a little earlier, and you can feel its warmth on your winter-worn face. Every year as I get older I begin to dislike the winter season, almost a humbug about it all. Can you relate? Ugh, more snow! It's so cold! Not another cancelation! The roads are horrible! Boy, oh boy I could definitely get used to the southern weather! If you have these same thoughts than you also understand the "I can't wait for Spring!" attitude.
I was just reading the other day about SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression that comes in times of seasons changing. Not seasons of life, literal seasons. So yes, the winter blues is a real thing. The article got interesting so I read on a little further. Basically, it affects people ages 18+, mainly females, and it gets worse the further you live from the equator (so my argument of moving to the beach has yet another pro added to the list, less depression!) Okay, so you might not be able to move to the beach but have you ever had the winter blues? Of course, doctors and scientists have studied this and have come up with several reasons why and how, and even some ways to help.
First here's a list of symptoms if you're wondering if you have it:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy
- Having problems with sleeping
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
Here's a list of causes:
- Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body's internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
- Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
- Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body's level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
If you are wondering, I googled this, MayoClinic.org was the source of all this information. But it got me reading a few more articles, and it's sad how many this affects. Again it mainly affects females, but it's also the younger adults it hits. Unfortunately, it has ended fatally for some.
This makes me think about why, why do we get like this? The causes were pretty clear above, I mean in a deeper way. I have had to deal with forms of depression that left a hole in my heart. Raised in a Bible teaching, Christ-centered, home I knew the only thing that could fill that space, was Christ. My story of depression isn't over, I can't say I've dealt with it fully or that I'm completely free. But I can say that when it comes in the darkness of the night all I can do is cry out His name. When it began I asked why. Why me? I have a beautiful life and it seems so selfish to even have depression. But no matter how blessed someone is no matter how "good" they are or their life is, there is always a fear of something. Satan used those fears against me and I have to make a choice daily to give them to the Lord. He'll take our fears and distort them to these monsters that haunt our thoughts, pulling and stretching our emotions to the point where it seems impossible to collect them all back. Depression is a scary thing, when it's in your mind it seems to never really go away. Can it go away? I believe it can, but how? How do you get rid of darkness? With light! Good news! We have a light, It's Jesus. He is our light, our hope, and ultimately the only thing that can save us from our fears. In the article they gave a list of ways to "cure" or aid SAD, one of them being light treatment. Meaning to surround yourself with light, brighter lamps, opening your blinds to allow daylight, sleeping with a night light, stuff like that. Ways to drown out the dark and fill your home with light!
Let's go deeper quick, ready?
Christ is the light in your life that will defeat all darkness.
No one is prepared for depression, it shows up in the busiest times of life, the most inconvenient especially. New careers, college semesters, even the birth of a new child. Depression can be a scary thing and no one is above it. This past year there was an article that broke my heart. A young Pastor took his own life after a hidden battle of depression, leaving behind a wife and young children. A Pastor. Of all the people you'd think a pastor would be safe from the depths of depression. But no, the reality of it is very sad, some people you love very dearly may suffer from it. Very few are open about their depression, especially those who seem to "have it all together." The majority of those who have depression or deal with suicidal thoughts push these feelings down, thinking they will disappear if they don't allow them to surface, but find in the end they only grow.
When Christ walked this earth he faced times of darkness. Though He was the perfect version of man, without sin, He dealt with the Father of Lies on more than one occasion. In the wilderness, as He walked alone for forty days/nights, He was tormented by Satan. Imagine the demon of your darkest thoughts walking by your side nagging you for more than a month, day and night (not to mention he hadn't eaten so He was probably agitated beyond belief.) Then in the garden, before He was to die on the cross, He faced more torment.
I'm not sure of your story, what depression you've faced, or if you've ever faced it. But I want to tell you something. There is hope, life amid the cold dead winter, light in the darkness. Hope, and He has a name. He has many, but my favorite above them all is this, Creator. Creator of my mind, the mind that tends to overthink everything and it freaks out on a daily basis. But He calms it. The Creator of my Big heart, one that has felt emptiness. But He filled it. Creator of those tears that became all too familiar in the darkness of the night. But He wipes them away. Creator of my soul, the very soul He died for, rose for, conquered for. Not just for me, but for you.
No matter how dark, cold, and dead the winter seems the hope of Spring remains. It will come, as will your healing. The light of Christ, who is our hope, can bring you healing, can bring you life.