It’s OK To Be SAD

SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly known as Seasonal Depression.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — it begins and ends at about the same times every year. For most people, symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often do people experience SAD in the warmer months, but it still happens!

Fall and Winter SAD

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy

Spring and Summer SAD

Symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:

  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation or anxiety

The Mayo Clinic also firmly encourages, “Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own.”

It’s always startling to me how controversial therapy is. Over the years I’ve heard so many people say, “No, therapy is not for me. Tried it once and nope.” or the quip of, “I don’t need therapy” or even therapy being labeled as liberal poppycock is another quip that has the eyes rolling to the back of my head.

I have a very firm belief that anyone who hates therapy simply hasn’t had a good therapist. It’s so important to find the right therapist for you, therapist shopping is a thing! A sucky tiresome thing, I’ve learned in my adult life, but necessary.

The concept of therapy has never been taboo for me, it’s always been a common party of life and conversation – talking about going to see a therapist is as casual as talking about a trip to the mall, or a more accurate comparison is saying you’re going to the doctor for just a checkup to make sure all the parts are running the way they should.

I’ve been seeing a therapist since I was seven or eight years old. My mom had started seeing Suzie shortly after my parents divorced, but my sister and I weren’t brought in for a family session until a few years into my mom’s therapy journey. After one visit with Suzie, we began yearly visits until sometime in high school when it became abundantly clear I wasn’t doing ok and needed more frequent visits. Essentially, I have a habit of bottling up emotions and carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I hate sharing or opening up, because I feel my problems are mine alone to bear, I don’t want to put them on anyone else.

But talking with Suzie became a such an outlet, and I will say – it was an incredible bonus that she was regularly seeing my mom, my sister, and even some other family members. This meant I never had to do a lot of the background family deep dive you usually do with a therapist – she already knew the deep rooted family problems and how they trickled into my psyche. Every visit with her was always this much needed cathartic release of emotion I had kept tightly sealed… she’s a blessing, honestly.

As I got older, moved away for school and what not, I still would hit a point about once a year where I’d be like, “DRIVING UP TO ANDERSON BECAUSE I NEED SUZIE!”

It took probably the second year of me only coming to see her in the dead of winter where she’s like, “Emily, I’m pretty sure you have seasonal depression.”

I was quick to respond, “No, no – I’m sad year round remember?

But she explained it, that yes overall I struggled with mental health, but my lowest points where I seem to be unable to take it anymore happen the same time every year – nearly without fail.

I still had a hard time agreeing with her, mainly because winter is my favorite time of the year, I love Christmas, I adore the snow (I swear I can smell it coming several hours before it actually snows), and I just love the coziness… there’s no way my favorite season would betray me so much. I couldn’t accept it.

But, she was right – it wasn’t really up to me to dispute the facts.

She also let me know that Indiana has some of the highest seasonal depression rates in the country, ranking number 3 overall!

Indiana 3rd in Google searches for seasonal depression | News Sun |  kpcnews.com
Source: KPCNews

Above is an image detailing states with the most google searches for seasonal depression – I think this graphic is most interesting because it shows how many people are wondering, “Do I have seasonal depression?” and looking into it; scouring WEB MD to see if their never-ending feeling of meh is normal. As you can imagine, seasonal depression, like clinical depression, often goes undiagnosed.

The ultimate “cause” of seasonal depression is unknown, but the Mayo Clinic says it could be:

  • 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.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, treatments for seasonal depression fall into four main categories that may be used alone or in combination:

  • Light therapy
  • Psychotherapy (this is talk therapy aimed to help develop coping mechanisms)
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Vitamin D

Light therapy may be the one to catch your eye (it certainly caught mine) and honestly it’s something that I had always been told about and it’s my mom and my aunt’s favorite form. The quick way to get some light therapy in high dosage is simply going tanning, which I know, I know, it’s not good for your skin. But I can tell you right now, when I excessively tanned throughout college, it always seemed to be the boost I needed that day.

That being said – there are non-harmful, safe for your skin, forms of light therapy available! Very Well Mind has compiled a list of the best light therapy lamps of 2020 – check those out and maybe invest, or ask for one for Christmas 😉

Over the years, the way that I’ve tried coping with SAD is to jam pack the winter months with activities. At work it’s the busiest time which helps, I try to make it where I get to see as many family and friends as possible, and then at the tail end of winter (that nasty February bit) is when it’s the absolute worst for me – so I always try to plan a trip abroad during that time. I find that for me the depression creeps in when I have idle hands and a dwelling mind, so I work hard to eliminate as many occasions as possible where the depression could take its hold.

Some days the depression still wins, making it hard for me to even leave my bed; but sometimes I do the winning and have great days – and that’s just the way it is. It’s a balancing act to get all those chemicals in your brain steady 🙂

. . .

Ultimately, Seasonal Depression is real and not something to be taken lightly. It’s serious, don’t ignore it or brush it off – and don’t brush off your friends and family when they tell you they suffer from it. SAD can lead to serious issues like school or work problems, social withdrawal, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts or behavior, anxiety, eating disorders, and more.

Seasonal Depression is a real mental health issue, treat it like you would clinical depression, manic bipolar, bulimia, or literally any other mental health issue. Just because you don’t suffer the effects everyday, year round, does not invalidate the severity or the impact it has, or could have, on your life.

. . .

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger due to depression, contact 911. If you or someone you know is in need of support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454 or text “HELLO” to 741741 the Crisis Text Line.

Ice Queen Vibes

UNPOPULAR OPINION ALERT: Winter is better than Summer.

Actually, I’ll go even further. Winter is better than all other seasons! Winter could take on any other season in a fight, even with one hand tied behind her back. I said it.

Before you completely dismiss this article AND Winter, check out the list of reasons I give to support my argument below:

1. Colder Temperatures = Less Sweat

Look, I know that this sounds like a prissy, annoying and superficially “girly” reason to dislike summer. But be honest, who actually enjoys sweating, other than satan himself? Summer is great, until the temperature goes above 75 degrees. Once it’s 76 and over, it is GAME OVER for the armpits of your favorite shirts, your perfectly coiffed hairstyle, the shower that you just took that morning and the skin on the back of your legs as you rip yourself off the leather seats of your car. No thanks, I’ll pass.

2. No Flowering Trees in Bloom = No Incessant Allergies

“But what about indoor allerg–” SHUT UP LINDA, THAT’S NOT WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. Personally, I suffer from pollen allergies. Every childhood summer I had was spent avoiding my siblings pleas to play outside with them. I didn’t know why I hated it out there until high school when my doctor told me for the fourth year in a row that I wasn’t sick, I just had allergies. Finally it all made sense! I figured out that the sore throat, the runny nose and the itchy eyes (actually the itching all over) had a cause. That cause was warm weather. Therefore, God bless buttoned-up coats and bare-naked trees!

3. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

HELLO WINTER HOLIDAYS! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, you know you’re going to have a killer family (or friend) celebration during the Winter months. Even if you don’t celebrate any religious holidays, there’s probably still a New Years Eve party to boogie with your friends at on December 31st. I can’t lie, I love getting fancy and festive! Oh, let’s not forget the fact that even as an adult, you normally get time off from stress for these celebrations. Sign me up!

4. Cold Weather Fashion is the “Coolest”

Dresses with tights, blazers, sweaters, beanies, boots and scarves…need I say more? Much cuter than a pair of sweaty jean shorts…just sayin’.

5. The Cozier, the Better

There’s really nothing better than being wrapped up in soft blankets on a cold night, hot tea or hot chocolate in hand. If you’re one of the lucky ones with a fireplace, cuddle up next to that bad boy and read a good book! Go get yourself a hot peppermint mocha latte and sip your cares away. In the summer, all you get is sweat-soaked sheets and an angry walk in the heat to the coffee shop. Which sounds better to you? I sure know what I’d prefer.

*-*-*-*-*-*

There are some good things about warm weather. I love bonfires and beaches as much as anyone! I also can see why one might dislike Winter, like driving on icy roads (but hey, snow days!) and having to carry your coat all around the bar. However, I’ve weighed the pros and cons of all four seasons and Winter always seems to come out on top. You can try to convince me otherwise, but meanwhile I’m content with being the ice queen I am.

Witchcraft for October 2020

Double, double, toil and trouble!

Spooky season is upon us. What better time to connect with your inner witch??

NO, witchcraft is not satanism or flying on broomsticks or cursing your enemies (although, you could, but the most important rule of Magick is “harm none” because karma is a B*tch!) However, witchcraft IS connecting to the powers of nature and grounding your spirit in the ways of the universe. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

October is a HUGE month, so I’m not going into everything. In fact, I’m only going to write about two major days in this article.

If you’re afraid to read about witches because of a stereotype you hold with you…then run along, nothing to see here. If you’re curious about ways you can enhance your natural gifts with the help of Magick this month, then take a seat on my broom and away we fly!

October 16: New Moon

Right in the middle of month this year is our October new moon! The new moon is the very first phase of a new lunar cycle, and the moon is barely visible at this time. Since the day of a new moon is the beginning of the moon’s cycle, it’s a great time to set goals, intentions and projects for the following month. The evening of a new moon is also considerably darker, since the light of the moon is mostly hidden. Therefore, this is the best time to reflect on your “dark side” and how you can either improve it, or put it to good use. To summarize, the new moon is a time of reflection, intentionality and purpose.

Crystals to meditate with:

  1. Moonstone (for comfort during times of change)
  2. Tourmalinated Quartz (for cutting ties or freeing yourself from restrictive situations or relationships)
  3. Amethyst (for planning ahead)

Incense to burn:

  1. Rosemary (for clarity)
  2. Myrrh (for balance and wisdom)
  3. White Sage (for protection and purification)

October 31: Samhain/Halloween

Ahh, Halloween. The favorite holiday of all the spooky souls out there. Costumes, candy, jack-o-lanterns and killer parties (pun somewhat intended) are some things that come to mind. However, to practicing witches out there, October 31st is the festival of Samhain (a celtic word, pronounced sow-win). This is not only a harvest festival, but also marks the beginning of the darker seasons. In autumn and winter, when nights are longer, the veil between the living and spirit realms is thinner, making communication to those who have passed on much simpler. On Samhain, though, the veil is at its thinnest! Therefore, Samhain is celebrated by honoring your ancestors…and maybe getting to communicate with them too!

If you’re interested in partaking in some Samhain festivities, don’t worry! You don’t have to be a witch to honor your ancestors. You also don’t have to hold a seance or play with a ouija board in a graveyard. Here’s a simple ritual you can hold on your own, no matter what religion you may practice.

Go outside at night on Halloween (i.e. your porch or backyard) or if you don’t want to venture out, just shut out all the lights in your bedroom. Turn off your phone/television/computer to eliminate from distractions. Sit or lay down somewhere comfortable and hold something that is a family heirloom of some kind. If you don’t have any of those, hold a family photo! Close your eyes and begin meditation by recounting your family tree (either mother’s side or father’s side, or both). I’ll write out the start of my mom’s side so you know what I mean:

I am Zoë C., daughter of Jill C. who teaches and paints

She is the daughter of Woody & Cathy C., a carpenter and a writer.

He is the son of Woodrow and Mary-Louise C., a carpenter and a mother. She is the daughter of David and Marjorie J., a teacher who fought in WWII and a hardworking secretary.

Continue as far back as you can go until you can’t remember the names, then say “and those whose blood runs in my veins that I haven’t met and cannot name.”

This simple meditation is beautiful way to honor your ancestors, and since the veil is thinnest on Samhain, you can be certain that they’ll hear you!

Crystals to meditate with:

  1. Rhodonite (for grounding/reconnecting with Mother Earth)
  2. Citrine (for gratitude)
  3. Black Obsidian (for clear negativity and unblock chakras)

Incense to burn:

  1. Myrrh (for balance and wisdom)
  2. Patchouli (for spiritual growth and nostalgia)
  3. Lotus (to open the mind’s eye)

All Month

Meditate regularly.

The dark seasons are here, and this is often when people suffer more from anxiety and depression. Meditating (with or without crystals) keeps you grounded and sane. If you haven’t tried meditating yet, it can be daunting! So try out 5 minutes of sitting in silence with your eyes closed, focusing on your breath, and then gradually you’ll be able to meditate deeper and for longer!

Burn sage often.

Since the veil is getting thinner, what is a better time to keep your home pure of unwanted spirit or energy than by burning some sage? Focus on areas you spend most of your time in or areas that feel…off. It’s all about trusting your gut (and your ancestors)!

Get a fern or an aloe plant for your home.

Both of these plants are great to have in your house all year, but they’re even better in October! Ferns protect your home from negative energies as well as aid in cleansing the negative energy that might be hanging around. Aloe Vera also helps absorb bad energy and bring luck and prosperity your way. Can’t beat that!

I hope you found this article helpful for your practice or at least learned something new.

An’ it harm none, do what ye will.

Let’s Get Spoopy.

Let’s be honest, I wait all year for fall and Halloween. Ask anyone that knows me and they’ll say that this is my favorite time of year. I spent most of my teenage years working at various haunted houses, doing special effects makeup, scaring, scene placement and overall, relishing in all things spoopy. This year, I wanted to create my very own creepy movie and tv show calendars – chop full of streaming gems, throwbacks and hopefully a few films you’ve never heard of. Nearly all of the films and shows can be found on Netflix or Hulu, but some may need to be rented or sourced due to availability and age.

What are your favorite Halloween/scary films?

*Disclaimer: Everyone has their own taste in shows and films, so some of these may not be your cup of tea and that’s okay. Feel free to read a synopsis of the films on IMDB or watch a trailer prior to watching. Genres range from gore to supernatural to dark comedy. Also, there are four days missing from the TV Show List due to the fact that there are not any short limited horror series that I’m aware of and I didn’t want to half-show something. Feel free to use those four days however you see fit!

Weekend Escape: Road trip to Salem

“I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!”
“Oh, look. Another glorious morning. Makes me sick!”
“Vanquish demon first, kill husband later.”
“Relax…it’s only magic. Now who’s pathetic?”

Witchy quotes to intro into a witchy post. October 2019 Zoe and I decided we absolutely had to embrace our witchy vibes and head to Salem, Massachusetts. Our souls were craving magic, spooks, and to be smacked in the face with with the crunchy smell of fall.

Salem delivered.

Our journey starts on a Friday afternoon, we’re a bit more organized for this trip than the Montreal weekend trip – we leave about the time we say we’re going to and we get to the hostel at a decent time that evening. The drive time was a little over 4-hrs with traffic.

So this is where I’ll level with you, our hostel in all reality is more or less a halfway house. We picked up on those vibes rather quickly as nearly all of the lodgers are an older crowd of folks that are a bit…permanent to the property. That being said, this place was so cheap – and available – that I’ll stop complaining there.

Wait, one last complaint – the old dudes smoked right outside our window shootin’ the shit at all hours and it was near impossible to sleep…that was actually the worst part.

Now back to the fun parts 🙂

The weekend we were in Salem was the weekend before Halloween so you bet that it was crowded and had a plethora of stuff going on. There was a sick Dark Arts Festival held in the evening in the Old Salem Village, and my god it was Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vibes to the max.

I mean just check these vibes:

We also attended a witch trial reenactment, learned about our past lives, our futures, and we went to a midnight seance hosted by mentalist Jon Stetson.

I will say, the seance was cool, but Zoe and I spent like $60 each and thought it was a real seance we were going to. We completely overlooked the keyword “mentalist” which basically is a dude who is incredibly observant of human behavior and has set up specific situations which have a guaranteed result.

He ended with openly saying everything was fake and then used his platform to talk about his life struggles and perseverance.

Which kudos to him, but we thought we were going to be talking to dead people, not messed with mentally and then lectured at the end.

So major advice – don’t rush-book a seance if you want to experience something quality. But totally book this guy, or others of the like, if you’re a scaredy cat but still want to feel like you did something spooky.