Depression · Lifestyle · Mental Health Awareness · Mindfulness · SAD · self care · Wellbeing

ME and my Mental Health

I make no secret of the fact that I have had (and still do suffer) Mental Health issues. Much of this stems from events in my life and also from having a parent that suffered from an array of mental health issues. Sometimes conditions like depression are learnt behaviour, particularly if you are exposed to it at a young age.

I have had plenty of ups and downs in my life. But I don’t dwell on them or live with regrets. Everything I have encountered has made me who I am today. And I am happy with who I am now. Ten years ago I lived in denial and if anyone had asked I would never had said I had a troubled or difficult upbringing. I didn’t want anyone to think I was weak. But now I can look back admit and accept that there were certain people and events in my life that contributed to mental health issues. Mine ranged from low-self esteem, no self-confidence, a need to please, OCD, Depression, Post Natal Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder etc. The list is long. But I am one of life’s “doers” so I just battled on and got on with things.

My reason for writing this post is because a Mindfulness challenge I am taking part in on Instagram led me to think about ME and who I am. What or Who shaped me. So I thought I would put together a post about things that have shaped my mental health. Writing journals like this is good therapy for those of us that have metal health issues. And although my life is calmer and for the most part I am free from the restraints that having this type of illness cause, and it is an illness. It is important to always be aware of your mental state and ensure that you still continue with anything that offers therapy.

This is also by no means a post to facilitate pity from people. That is absolutely the last thing someone like me wants. It is to show that no matter how hard life can be and how low you feel there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I love the life I have now. I am happy and content and even if life does throw me a curve ball I know that I can cope.

So here are ten things that have affected my mental health at some point in my life.

1. I am the product of teenage parents. My Mum was only 16 when I was born and my Dad 17. They had known each almost a year to the day when I arrived in the world. A shotgun wedding took place 10 days after my Mum’s 16th Birthday (yes she was only 15 when I was conceived) and for the first year of my life we all with my Grandparents until a small council flat became our home. Neither my Mum or Dad were ready to be parents. Both were pretty immature for their age and had plenty of emotional baggage from their own difficult childhoods. I have had plenty of conversations with my Dad in the last year about this and he admits they didn’t have a clue when I was born. My two sisters and brother came along in quick succession. My childhood wasn’t all bad but at a very young age I realised that my Mum suffered from pretty severe mood swings. I learnt to be “good” to keep quiet and make sure I helped out as much as possible. I did well at school and by the time I was 12 I was looking after my siblings and cooking the evening meal on a daily basis. I grew up quickly and became a “parent” to my siblings at a very young age.

2. My Mum suffered from mental illness. I didn’t know the full extent of her illness until I was in my 30’s. Growing up I thought my Mum was moody. I also thought she didn’t love me. She favoured my siblings even into my adult life this was noticeable by most people. We did not have a Mother-Daughter bond which meant that I had no real maternal influence in my life. Probably why I always say I am a better Dad than I am a Mum. My Mum would often take to her bed for days on end and sometimes disappear altogether. Leaving us children to be shipped off to various relatives for a couple of days at a time. This was actually my respite. I would stay with my Grandparents, where I had my own room and felt loved. During my teenage years I started to spend more and more time at my Grandparents homes. Sometimes up to a month at a time. I have vivid memories of my Dad turning up to take me home and I would burst into tears at the thought of going back with him. I loved living with my Grandparents and actually was much closer to them than I was my parents. I preferred the company of adults and had very few female friends (even though I went to an all girls school). I didn’t realise until I had children myself how much of an impact this had on my life.

3. I was bullied at school. I was one of a small number of “council estate” girls who went to the all girls Grammar School I attended. The first couple of years were ok. My best friend was a girl from my Primary School and we spent a lot of time together. But sadly she died in a car accident when we were 13 years old. I then had to try and make new friends, which was not easy particulary for someone who did not have a lot of self-confidence. Anyone who has been to an all girls school will know how bitchy it can be. It’s a very competitive environment. I did join a group of girls but as I suffered from low-self esteem I soon became an easy target for being picked on and “being sent to Coventry”. This is the worst kind of bullying. I felt isolated at school and lonely at home. I would shut myself away in my room and cry. I think this is the point where I became insular. I am still like this a little. I revel in my own company and having my own space. I never told anyone about the bullying. Certainly not my Mum. The last thing I wanted would be to cause my Mum any stress or upset. She could not cope with stuff like that so I just got through the last couple of years as best I could. I left school at 16 and got myself a job in London. This was my first sense of Freedom and where I discovered that work was my happy place. I have always excelled at work and since having a Saturday job at 14 I have always worked.

4. I settled down early to escape living at home. I met my ex-husband at 17. It wasn’t love at first sight. We worked in the same Nightclub at weekends and were part of a group from work who used to go out socialising. We were friends who became a couple over a period of time. We got on well as friends. But we were both trying to escape from unhappy homes and moved in together after two years together. Over the following eight years we followed the path that was expected of us at that time. Engagement, marriage and a couple of children. We had a very volatile relationship. If I am honest I should have left many years before I did. I wanted to. But by being married with children I was living up to my Mum’s expectations. And all I ever wanted to do was please her. My ex-husband also suffered from self-esteem issues but his way of dealing with it was to belittle me. Mostly in public. I understand now it made him feel better about himself. But when I finally left him after 11 years I was damaged. I had not had a social life for years and had absolutely no self esteem or self worth and I only left the house to go to work or to do the food shopping. Thankfully I had my best friend by my side helping me financially, helping me with the kids and getting me out socialising. I do not know what I would have done if it wasn’t for her. She was my rock. My Mum and Dad were nowhere to be seen. They were going through their own break-up and even while I was trying to get my life together I was supporting both of them too and generally playing piggy in the middle. I was dealing with so many problems at this time I fell ill and spent several weeks in bed. Which again saw me sprial into depression and being on anti-depressants.

5. I suffered with severe Post Natal Depression with my first child. I struggled with motherhood and what was expected of me. I was not ready to be a Mum. I’m not sure I was ever ready but when it happened the first time I was shell-shocked. It was a difficult birth and I did not immediately bond with the baby. This led to feelings of guilt. Surely bonding with your newborn baby is natural. That’s what I thought at the time. I now know different. But I fell into pit of depression. It wasn’t the take to your bed and don’t function type of depression. Quite the opposite. I am what is known as a functioning depressive. I got up everyday, did everything I was meant to do. Fed and looked after my child. I went to work, cooked the meals and kept an immaculate house. But inside I felt empty. I was like a robot. This went on for about seven months until I broke down one day at work, in my bosses office. She called the company doctor in who gave me antidepressants and signed me off work for six weeks. I don’t really remember much about what followed but I know I eventaully felt better and went back to work. I also fell pregnant again with my youngest, when my eldest was 11 months old. I felt better about pregnancy and did not suffer with PND this time around. It was an easy birth and he was an easy baby. I had also managed to repair the bond with my eldest although I don’t think it will ever be as strong as it could have been.

6. I was a single parent for 16 years. And I loved every minute of it. I split from my ex-husband when my children were 2 years old and 6 months old. It was the hardest but best decision I ever made. My children grew up in a much better environment than they would have done had I stayed in my marriage. I am not the maternal type. But I am a good parent. I may not have been the cuddly, get down on the floor and play with the kids type of Mum but I did a good job. It suited me being on my own. The kids and I kids shared a close bond. It was us and the world. I continued to work and was lucky to have a good job that allowed me to pay the bills and have the odd treat. We didn’t have a lot in the material sense but I taught my children the value of money and to work work and be independent. Both left home at 18. This wasn’t a sad moment for me. Because they were both leaving to follow their dreams. I am so proud of them. They are the most amazing people. They have also supported me through some rough times. I have always been open with them about my depression and they knew when I was going through a low time. They helped me by being extra loving and helpful. I know this is not something that is considered the norm for your children but it has given both of them an understanding of mental health issues. They are both luckily free from the illness and are self-confident and well-rounded young adults. But they appreciate that this isn’t the case for everyone and they can recognise it in others and be empathetic to those that do suffer.

7. I met my soul mate at the age of 30. Three years after I had split with my ex-husband I felt ready to date again. For the first three years after my marriage break-up I had a lot of problems with my ex-husband. He would not accept the break-up and made life very difficult for me. I also felt guilty for leaving him and taking the children with me so I let him get away with unacceptable behaviour. He would stalk me when I was out and even on one occasion broke into my house and was waiting for me when I came home from a night out. He was verbally, emotionally and physically abusive towards me until one day I stopped feeling guilty, stood up to him and told him that I was going to seek legal advice. He then backed off and started to leave me alone. I felt stronger and more confident after this and when I least expected it I met Alan in a local bar. I felt immediately drawn to him and made the first move to talk to him. From the moment we met we clicked and have now been together for almost 17 years and married for nearly 3 of those . I can’t even put into words the impact Alan has had on my life. I was all over the place when we met. My life was chaos. I was in the process of being made homeless by my private landlord and was placed in the most awful temporary accommodattion by the council. For two months I lived in a cold damp flat on a pretty rough estate. The only person who visited me was Alan. Luckily we were only there for six weeks and on Christmas Eve I moved into a permanant council house which became our home for fifteen years. I handed it back to the Council when I moved out four years ago so that another family in need could have the opportunity of a nice home. Anyway going back to when I met Alan, I was not particurlarly stable emotionally. I was a little unpredictable, unable to relaxand could experience about ten different emotions in one day. In fact I was a nightmare to be in a relationship with but Alan persevered. And thank god he did. Alan bought stability into my life, he is a very calm and solid person and he grounded me. He was the first person to ever really make me feel safe and secure. He has been through many of my up’s and down’s and has been my calming influence. He knows me inside out and understands my mental health issues. He allows me to have the space I need when I am going through a low phase and he goes out of his way to look after me. With him I feel content and complete.

8. I battled early stage cervical cancer. I was 30. I had skipped a previous smear test and when I finally went after 6 years I found out I had abnormal cells. A hospital appointment followed quickly and after a Colposcopy I was told I had early stage cervical cancer. I also found out that I was pregnant at the same time. I had to make the decision to have a termination so that I could go ahead with treatment, which I have never regretted even though there are times I think… What if….. It’s natural to think what an unborn child may have been. They would have been 16 now. I don’t dwell on it. It is a fleeting thought once or twice a year. Anyway after the termination I initially had laser treatment in one specific area of my cervix but at a check-up six months later there was another area of concern so I then had large loop excision of the whole Cervix. No the most pleasant of experiences and quite possibly one of the factors of my early menopause. But I was lucky that the treatment did it’s job and after ten years of six monthly check ups I was officially given the all clear and signed off from the Doctor. This was a frightening time and again I went through this without any support from my family. In fact the day I told my Mum she then went on to have a major drama of her own that saw all the family having to rally round her. This was a regular occurrence in our lives. Birthdays, family celebrations, in fact any event where someone else was the centre of attention would result in my Mum going off the rails and causing a drama so the attention switched to her.

9. My Mum’s death was a turning point in my life. My Mum died 12 1/2 years ago when she was only 52. She committed suicide. I remember the night like it was yesterday. When it happened we had been estranged for a couple of years. Her behaviour had become destructive over the last few years of her life and I had to make a decision to step away from having her in my life because it was having a detrimental affect on my mental health and the lives of my children. When the police called and told us I did not feel sad. In truth I was expecting it. I felt numb at first. I actually felt nothing. We had never had a close relationship. I had managed for 36 years without having a proper Mum in my life and I was very self-sufficient. The turning point came when I came across her diary when we were clearing out her flat. When I read it I found that a lot of what she had written resonated with me. I felt some of the same things. This scared me. I knew that I didn’t want to end up like her. So I sought counselling. I left my job and spent six months as a stay at home Mum. Concentrating on my children and my own well-being. I took a course of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. This was the start of a new life for me. It changed me completely and over a number of years my self-esteem grew and I was able to get my own mental health illness under control. Alan and I often joke about the “old me” and the “new me”. I still seek out self-help books to read and am continually working on managing my mental health. I know that I will always have this illness hanging over me. It will never leave me but I can recognise the symptoms and deal with it so that it doesn’t control me or my life.

10. Leaving London for a life in the Kent Countryside. When my children left home four years ago I finally moved in with Alan, after 13 years together. A year later we were married. That was one of the best day’s of my life. I can’t look at the photo’s without a big smile spreading across my face. Just before our first Wedding Anniversary we moved from an area of SE London that I had lived all my life to start a new life in a Village in Kent. We bought a run down 1950’s Semi which requires completely renovating. But despite the dated interior it is the first house that I feel completly at home in. It reminds me of my Nan’s house in some ways. It has this really cosy feel to it. It is the place I have felt at peace with myself. A couple of months after we moved in I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to apply for a job as a School Business Manager in a local Primary School. A job that I had never done before and more surprising to my family (who know my lack of maternal instinct) it was in a place surrounded by children. I was offered the job on the same day as my interview and I accepted immediately even though it meant taking a substantial pay cut. I have never worked so hard in my life but I absolutely love my job. I was promoted after the first year onto the Senior Leadership Team and rewarded with an impressive pay increase. The Village has become our home, we socialise in the local pub and have made many friends and I also now have a circle of girlfriends that I also socialise with. I still have some minor incidents of mental health illness. Particularly the odd twinge of low-self esteem and Seasonal Affective Disorder. But I am able to quickly combat these with a little self-care. Life will never be perfect but at the moment it is pretty damn close.

Thank you for taking the time to read my mini life story and I hope that it gives you a little insight into mental health illness.

My next step in life is to look at training as a life coach later in the year, using my own experiences to help others. And I am always happy to lend an ear to anyone who needs someone to talk to about their own struggles.

Meanwhile the sun is shining. Enjoy your weekend.

Love
Melanie xxxx

Depression · Lifestyle · Mental Health Awareness · Mindfulness · SAD · self care · Wellbeing

Self Care Sunday 21st January

This week was one of those hectic weeks that quite often lead to me neglecting myself. Work was extra busy this week with government returns to process, a training day and about a dozen meetings. All on top of my normal workload. I also had to commit some time to my studies this week. My assignments are due to be submitted in a couple of weeks and I have three 5000 word essays to complete. When will I learn not to leave these things until the last minute.

Anyway I promised myself this year I would make self-care a priority, even during the busiest times at work.

I started the week off with an early night. I do love the dark Winter nights, it is the perfect excuse to get into my pjs, pop on a face mask and get into bed to watch TV or read something lighthearted such as this book, which is one of those great little inspirational books that you can dip in and out of. Each page has a different quote to inspire you. The book is available at Amazon. I try to do this at least once a week and get to sleep before 10.30pm. If I’m not feeling particularly sleepy I swear by Sleeptherapy pillow sprays from Avon, I have used them for years.

Also on Monday I started the new Bodycoach 90 Day Plan after being offered it for free. Joe Wickes has kindly offered all of those people who competed and graduated from his first plan the opportunity to do his second personalised plan free of charge. Of course I jumped at the chance. I had great success on the first plan back in 2916, losing one and half stone and dropping two dress sizes. I have since put on half a stone and am back to a size 10/12 due to not being able to exercise for the last 5 months following an injury to my foot. I started the workouts on Tuesday morning and really felt the pain later in the day. It’s been a bit of a struggle getting up and down the stairs all week but it has been a while since I did this level of exercise.

The first half of the week was a little challenging at work. I had to deal with a couple of staff issues which saw me having to reprimand a couple of members of staff. Not something that comes easily to me but it’s part and parcel of being a senior manager. I was pretty stressed out and feeling very low when I got home from work Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m lucky that my husband is great at looking after me when I feel down and he took over cooking dinner while I treated myself to a luxurious shower with another product from my monthly Birchbox.

I have to say I don’t think I have ever used such a lush shower gel. It is so creamy and smells divine. My skin felt so silky afterwards. One word of advice if you go and get this product is you only need a tiny amount. It comes out of the pump as a clear gel but as soon as you rub it in it turns to a gorgeous creamy foam. You can purchase this Shower Foam at www.rituals.com

Thursday was a long day at work. It was Spring Census Day. It is the day that all schools have to produce various governments returns and each school has a specific time to run their report and there are always errors and queries to resolve before it can be submitted to the Department of Education. The return is used to formulate some of our funding so it is really important that the data is correct. After such a busy day I didn’t feel like cooking so my husband took me to one of our local pubs for dinner. It was freezing cold so I took the opportunity to wear my favourite big cosy jumper from Next. This really is a fabulous knit at a very reasonable price. Unfortunately it is no longer available online but I have seen it in store in other colours.

Because I had been really good with my diet all week and I had stuck to the no sugar, reduced caffeine rule of the 90 Day Plan all week I decided to have a little Friday night treat. I used the Black Forest Hot Chocolate powder that was in my Christmas stocking, for the first time. It was an interesting flavour and if you are looking for a hot drink which is a little different then it might be worth a try. I can’t find the powder available to buy at the moment, it may a Christmas product but you can purchase Black Forest syrup at Amazon.

My Friday night treat set me up nicely for the weekend. Saturday morning was taken up with normal weekly chores of cleaning and ironing. Normally on a Saturday evening we would either pop to our local pub for a drink or have a Netflix and takeaway night. This week we had arranged to drive across Kent to meet up with my husband’s Sister and Brother-in-Law. We hadn’t seen them since last Summer. We both have busy lives, full time jobs, kids and houses that we are renovating, so we only ever seem to catch up at family gatherings. This time we met up at a lovely country pub in Westerham It was the first time the four of us had been out without kids in tow and we had a really great time. If you are ever in this area check out the Aperfield Inn. Very cosy, amazing food and fantastic customer service. We all enjoyed ourselves so much we are planning to do it again soon.

Sunday is my favourite day of the week. It always has been. When my husband and I were first dating, we would have every other Sunday to ourselves because my children would be at their dads for the weekend. We used to make the most of it by having a lazy day. We would stay in bed all morning, reading the newspapers, eating bacon sandwiches and drinking coffee. The afternoons would have been spent on the sofa watching a movie while a roast dinner cooked.

Today we did much the same, minus the newspapers as they just make me angry now. But we stayed in bed late drinking coffee. Then instead of cooking bacon sandwiches at home we wrapped up warm and walked to the Marina in the sleety snow, stopping at the old fashioned river side cafe for a cooked breakfast.

On the walk home we stopped at the Co-op in our Village square for roast dinner ingredients. The rest of the day will be spent on the sofa under the blanket. Hubby watching movies while I catch up with social media, write a couple of blog posts and indulge in some online shopping, I wont be buying anything exciting… just food and toiletries.

So there goes another hectic week. The week ahead should be a little calmer at work, but I have a lot of studying to catch up on so I’m still going to be busy. I will still make sure that I fit in a little self-care though as I am finding that I really look forward to it now. It is slowly becoming part of my daily routine.

I hope you have had a good week and don’t forget to make some time for the things that bring you joy.

Thank you for reading.

Melanie xxxx

Depression · Health & Fitness · Lifestyle · Mental Health Awareness · Mindfulness · SAD · Wellbeing

Be Happy….. Not S.A.D


I have suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder for as long as I can remember but for many years I was totally unaware of what was going on. Like my Mum I have been plagued by mental health issues since my teens. Low Self Esteem, Depression, Anxiety… all to varying degrees of severity. The first time I became truly aware of any problems was when I suffered from Post Natal Depression following the birth of my first child. It was a work colleague who noticed a change in my behaviour and mood, she mentioned it to our company doctor who then called me in for a chat and it all came tumbling out. I was signed off work for 4 weeks and put on anti-depressants. I don’t like taking medication at the best of time, so I didn’t stick with the medication, but just being aware that something was going on helped a little. I felt low for several months but eventually my mojo returned. This cycle of feeling low and then feeling good continued but I really didn’t associate it with the seasons at that time. It is funny now, looking back, because I always used to say my “lucky” time of the year was April to August. This was when life always seemed to deal me the Ace. I met my husband in May and looking at my CV all but one of my successful job interviews have been between April and July. I was totally unaware of the relevance of this until years later.

It was actually about 12 years ago when it became more noticeable. I had a period in my life where I was working in a very stressful environment and my depression became quite bad. I was also suffering from IBS which got worse during the Winter months. I felt physically ill most of the time. For three years in a row I went to my doctor complaining of extreme tiredness, aching limbs, coughs, colds and even recurring tonsillitis. Each time he took full bloods and they came back showing that I was perfectly healthy. I was lucky at the time to still have my family doctor, he had been my mums doctor and had known me since birth so knew my medical history inside out. The third year I went to see him with exactly the same symptoms as the year before he diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder. Just another form of depression caused by a reduction in Serotonin levels during the months where there is less sunlight. Suddenly everything made sense and I started to see a pattern.

Once I had a diagnosis it made life easier. I am the type of person who researches and tries to find ways that I can help myself overcome issues. I am one of life’s Problem Solvers. I did this for my Seasonal Affective Disorder and tried many different ways to help reduce the severity of the symptoms. Some worked, some didn’t. It has been years of trial and error. And some years are definitely worse than others. But i do think I have finally found a few simple things that help me get through those dark 5 months. For me the onset of my S.A.D is a little like flicking a light switch. I know exactly when it is going to start and end. The day the clocks go back in October is the beginning and the day after the clocks go back in March is the end. Knowing this does help me maintain a little element of positivity during the Winter. Because it doesn’t matter how bad my symptoms are I do know there will be an end date.

If you think you suffer, even just a little bit, I have some tips that may help you. Everyone is different though so they may not work for all of you. But anything is worth a try !! My biggest tip is to plan ahead. I start getting into a routine in September. Particularly with health and fitness and taking of supplements as these need a little time to get into your system.

Get Outside

I know it is hard to find the motivation to get outside when you are feeling low and it is cold, wet and windy. But it really is the best medicine for sufferers of S.A.D. And it is free. 10 mins in the middle of the day is all you need. I was the worlds worst at taking this advice in previous years. I worked in an office in London and hardly ever took a proper lunch break so never ventured outside between the hours of 8am and 6pm. I can honestly say that those years were some of the worst for my mood. Last year I moved out of London and started working in a school. I pop outside every lunchtime to check on lunch staff and what is going on in the playground. I get my 10 mins of daylight every day and despite having a more demanding and stressful job last Winter I suffered far less than I have for many years.

Maintain a Healthy Diet


You will crave sugary and carb laden food. Particularly, if you are feeling low but this is not going to make you feel better. I know from past experiences. I used to eat very differently during Summer and Winter months and cold nights would mean lots of potatoes, pasta, puddings and chocolate. But the extra lbs this added made me feel sluggish and depressed, when my clothes were tight. Now I tend to eat the same all year round. And yes people do think I am a little mad when I rock up to work with a salad for lunch in the middle of December. But all that spinach and raw veg with a tin of tuna keeps my Vitamin D levels topped up and my weight down.

Exercise

When you feel low this is the last thing you want to do. I usually exercise every morning, before work. I find it harder to do this in the Winter months when it is dark and cold when I get up. So I change things around a little. I reduce my morning workouts from five to just two and I add a longer gym visit at the weekend. If I try to maintain the same level of workouts as the Summer months I fail and that feeling of failure fuels my depression and then I end up doing nothing. So It is better to do something than nothing at all. My morning workouts will usually consist of a 15 min HIIT session. They are fast, warm me up and are over and done with quickly. I know I can maintain this. Sometimes if I am having a good week I manage three morning sessions. On a Saturday morning I head to the gym with my husband. We make a morning of it. I will either take a class (box fit or circuits) or spend 30 mins lifting weights and then finish with 5-10 mins on the treadmill. It helps having someone to go with. After the gym we walk into a Village Centre for coffee and breakfast at a lovely little cafe. By doing this it becomes a bit of a treat rather than a chore. And the 10 min walk there and back gets me outside too.

Supplements


Due to having already gone through early menopause there are several supplements I take all year round now. These are the same ones I used to take just in the Winter months and ones that I would recommend if you suffer from S.A.D. Start taking them in September.

Vitamin D – I take mine with Calcium every night to try and protect myself from Osteoporosis but this is honestly the best supplement you can take to help elevate the severity of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Vitamin B12 – I don’t think everyone needs to take this. I think it is more beneficial for women who are also going through the menopause. I only started taking this supplement in the last 12 months and it has been a godsend. It really helps me concentrate and I have more energy and in my job I really can’t afford to be feeling tired.

Magnesium – This is a great supplement if you are struggling to get a good nights sleep. Take about an hour before bedtime. One downside that I find is that Magnesium can dehydrate me. So I always make sure I drink plenty of water during the day and also have a bottle of water on my bedside table to drink first thing in the morning. If you don’t want to take the supplement you can use Epsom Salts (which contain Magnesium) in a hot bath. Soak for about 20 mins for best effect.

Lighting


I have a SAD light that I bought from Argos about 10 years ago. It cost about £50 at the time (similar here). I put it on my dressing table from September through to March. I pop it on in the mornings when I am getting ready for work. I also have a couple of full spectrum Daylight light bulbs that I put in my bedroom and lounge lamps during the Winter (purchased from Amazon). Do they help? I think there are some benefits but only when combined with the other things mentioned above.

Winter Sun


We have not taken our main holiday in the Summer for years now. Most years we take a week long holiday abroad, somewhere sunny, over the Christmas period. I really notice the difference in my symptoms when we have been away. The Algarve is one of our favourite places in the Winter. It is not overcrowded and is warm and sunny during the day and very easy to pick up a bargain if you book a few months in advance.

Be Kind To Yourself

Sometimes the only thing that you can do is give in to the feelings that Seasonal Affective Disorder brings. I am lucky that my husband fully understands my mental health issues and knows that there are times where I just cannot function properly. When that happens he steps away and gives me the space I need to have a day off (I do not like to be fussed over as this produces feelings of guilt which then fuels the depression). He will take over the household chores and the cooking for the day (usually a Sunday) and allow me to just snuggle under the blanket on the sofa and watch movies or box sets all day. There is nothing wrong with this, unless it happens too often. I tend to have one of these days once a month. Maybe twice in January and February, which seem to be my worst months.

Plan Something Fun

I have at least one day/night out already planned and booked for each month between October and March. I have committed myself to socialise with other people and booked something fun to look forward to. I tried this last year but failed miserably. Mainly because last year I booked things to do with my husband. The reason this didn’t work was when the day came I didn’t want to get dressed up and go out of the house. I wanted to hibernate. And because my husband is so lovely. He let me do just that. So you can see why for me this isn’t the way to go. This year I have booked things to do with friends. Now I know that on the day I will still get the feeling of not wanting to go. But because I would never let friends down. I will persevere, get dressed up and go out. And you know what. I will have a fantastic time full of fun and laughter.

I hope you have found some helpful tips above, that you haven’t tried before. And if you have any other tips that work for you please share. I am a big advocate for talking about mental health issues and sharing experiences and would love to hear from anyone who suffers from S.A.D so I can share with other sufferers.

Thank you for reading
Melanie xxx