My experience with Seasonal Affective Disorder


As I write this, I am experiencing a SAD episode. Around this time of year, I notice that my mood declines significantly, making the fall and winter seasons very difficult to manage. The days and weeks fade into a continuous cycle of unhappiness and dullness. Nothing seems to bring up my mood, so I fall deeper into the familiar feeling of sadness. 

Many people may relate, others may not believe what I’m experiencing to be true, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that I and many others feel this way. SAD, or Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder, is a form of depression that occurs the same time every year, commonly occurring from late fall to the end of winter. 

This recurring SAD period, for other students and I, usually fall during the middle of the school year. The pressure of school may already be overwhelming for students, however dealing with a depressive feeling makes it another level of difficult. Teachers can hold important roles in helping students cope with an episode. 

SAD can present itself in many ways. Around October, I felt a shift. The shift creeps up on me as the fall season begins. During the summer, I was having fun, being carefree, and living life. I didn’t worry about anything; I was happy. As the seasons changed, everything became dull. I am not as energetic or motivated as I was before. It’s beginning to feel like I am living on autopilot; I don’t think about my next moves, they just happen. To be quite honest, nothing feels real. 

As a student struggling with SAD, it makes it almost impossible to be productive and stay on track during the second and third advisories. It’s not because the assignments are hard, but because my brain and body are no longer operating in the same way they were prior to the cold seasons. Although it feels like I am the only one going through this, I believe many students could be struggling with SAD and not know that they are or not able to talk to someone about it. 

It is hard to open up about any mental illness, especially for teenagers. Often when I’m asked “Are you okay?” or “How are you feeling?” I lie because sometimes it’s easier to not open up. We find it easier to bottle it up and put it aside. However, learning where to seek helpful guidance or support during these times is vital, and students should be aware of who they can turn to. Teachers can be among the most essential supporters for students during difficult times. We see our teachers just as much as we do anyone else and therefore it is important that our teachers become familiar with signs of SAD among their students. Teachers have done a lot to support students, especially in times of crisis. One example was during the election. I had a teacher reach out to my class as she knew that this past election could be causing any of us stress or fear. Despite how unnecessary it may seem, this small gesture validated how we felt and made us feel like someone cares.

SAD is often an isolating experience, a lonely battle, but it doesn’t have to be. We don’t need to face these hard moments alone, and by sharing just a personal account of what it means to have SAD, I hope it helps others to think about their own challenges and look for the support they need.