I come from a country that is warm all year round, with our December being our hottest month and July being the month we throw our jumpers on. Even during cold times, jumpers are off by lunch because it is just too hot… very different to life I found myself in when I came to university in the UK.
The SAD storm
Just as I started to feel that I had grounded myself in university life, grey skies became my every day and the cold its companion. With it came sadness like I had never experienced. Mornings became hard to wake up to and days felt slow. Most times away from my room, I would have to fight the tingling sensation of tears building up. The worst part of the experience was not knowing why I had lost my happiness. Then December came around and I got to go home to warm and sunny weather. Within 2 weeks I was back to my optimistic self.
Shrugging it off, I told myself that it must have been homesickness I was struggling with. So I didn’t expect a second round of the sad bug. It was only by my third winter did I start to see a pattern. I was reliant on the sun!! I needed what the sun provided, and I had gone roughly 2 years not understanding that. With more research, I soon found that my symptoms all matched the “winter blues” or “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD).
There were many things I started to do once I was almost certain what I was going through. Keep in mind though I have never had a formal diagnosis. Based on what I believe I was experiencing I …
- …took trips to places where the sun was bright and bold. This meant going home in December for me. It’s amazing how 3 weeks of sun recharges your batteries and can last you through the rest of the grey skies to come when you’re back. Sometimes home was too far away, so I’d run away to places like Greece or Spain.
- …tried to have a positive mindset. Having positive internal dialogue really makes all the difference in situations. And always remember, the sunny days are COMING, and they are worth it. They really accentuate how beautiful this country is.
- …looked for help. Talking to family about what I was feeling really helped take a weight of sadness off my chest during particularly hard days. But sometimes, for some, it can be hard to open up to those closest to you and you would prefer to seek more professional help. Loughborough University has many services to assist you in mentally and emotionally hard times. I have never felt optionless here, and I will list a few options below.
- There is a student-led association called “Heads Up!” and they promote positive mental health care through different events, workshops and campaigns.
- There is also a counselling service where you will be able to go talk to a professionally trained individual about your feelings and concerns. For this service, you even have the option of meeting someone face-to-face or on a secure online platform.
- If you hold a faith or you are spiritual and would prefer to find comfort in your faith, there is also the Centre for Faith and Spirituality
If you follow my blog posts so far you must be thinking “what is her obsession with the weather!!”. To most, the weather is a little conversation filler, to me it is everything. I wait in anticipation for sunny days and I am very aware of my mood, making sure I say kinder things to myself when I feel low. For those sharing my journey through SAD, the worst is over, and the sun is making its entrance into providing continuously sunny days.