A love letter to the people who don't feel like living anymore

OCTOBER 23 — With skies of grey and days of constant rain, it's not hard to see why many people are getting a case of the blues.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing — a mood disorder that is actually a physiological reaction to a lack of sunlight.

Whether it's monsoon season or the coming of fall or winter, this time of year is a vulnerable time for many people.

You don't need to have SAD to be sad. For some people, a lingering and sometimes debilitating sadness is just a facet of daily life.

It's easy to get caught up in that sadness and feel trapped by the heaviness of mood, that is much like being rained on by a cloud that won't give you a moment of unsoaked peace.

I know that many of these people are tired of the platitudes they keep hearing in the media.

“Just ask for help!” “It gets better!”

There comes a point where it all gets rather tiresome and you wonder if the people saying all these glib things actually know what they're talking about.

To the people who feel as though they do not want to stick around to find out if it does get better, all I can say is: please try.

On life, and living

I can say, with absolute certainty, that past a certain age, you will feel the edge ease off the worst of depressive moods.

Of course cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), medication and alternative practices such as yoga and meditation will help that along.

I say this as someone dealing with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as SAD and clinical depression.

When I was first diagnosed, I had colleagues shun me as a possible threat to their safety.

Having a mood disorder, whatever kind, somehow made people think you were a possible Hannibal who would turn them into human jerky.

Decades later I still have colleagues who shun me but mostly because I am irritable and have a bad temper. I call that progress.

The first thing you need to understand is the sadness you're feeling is not who you are. You are not your condition; you are not your illness.

Once you separate it from yourself you can start learning to look at it impassively. Winston Churchill's likening his depression to a “black dog” is rather apt.

Like a dog, mood disorders will often follow you and unlike ordinary dogs, you can't send this one to the SPCA.

Like having a dog, you can learn to manage your life with it. You begin to see the patterns, you start to avoid the triggers and you plan coping mechanisms so the dog doesn't dictate how you live your life.

Some days, though, that damn dog will just sit on you and you can't do a thing about it.

It's OK to not be OK

I tell you this, as someone who's been there, the pain and desperation you feel to escape the world is not a sign you should plan an exit.

You feel broken and that is fine. You also probably resent that everyone else seems to be all fine, so why can't you pick up your pieces and get on with life?

Here's a little secret: everyone's a little bit broken. It's just that some people are better at pretending they're not.

When it gets to that point you feel there is no other way but to find some means to get off the planet, believe me, there is always another route to go.

Another hard truth you need to remember and perhaps remind yourself, if you need a little scare, is that not all attempts are successful.

You do not want to break yourself further to escape from your brokenness. No matter what your illness tells you, there is no real guarantee you'll succeed and if it insists so, it's lying.

I'm not going to lie and tell you that it will be easy, that there will be no bad days, that there won't be times you will feel this crushing sadness.

What you really need is to give yourself a chance because time will give you the knowledge, and in time, the strength to get through the worst of things.

I hope you try. I hope you believe that you are worth fighting for. If you don't believe you are, let me assure you that at least one person thinks so — even if it's just me.

Stay safe, stay warm and most of all, stay here on earth.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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