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Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve read a few statuses from fellow Facebookers who bravely posted about their depression, specifically their SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly referred to as ‘seasonal depression.’)

Not many know this, but I, too, suffer from winter-onset seasonal depression. It’s not enough that winter offers up what feels like a measly two-hour window of sunshine just once a week, but we also have to contend with bone-jarring cold temperatures, bleak, gray skies, and gray, dirty drifts of snow. Before I was diagnosed, I spent my miserable winters void of energy and depleted of motivation. I holed up in my dark bedroom, oversleeping, binge eating, crying, and feeling overwhelmingly agitated. On a more ominous note, I’ve dealt with a tornado of awful, paralyzing emotions. I’ve felt guilty, hopeless, and just…completely worthless. And, yes, there have been times I’ve had suicidal thoughts. “No one will care,” I thought as I leaned out on the edge of a subway platform and stared into the blinding lights of an oncoming 2 train. “Being dead has to feel better than this,” I’ve thought as I stood on the Manhattan Bridge and looked down into the icy blackness of the East River.

Depression is awful, but what’s even worse is the stigmatisms of shame and instability that comes with openly acknowledging that you’re suffering from depression. No one wants to be around Debbie Downer. No one wants to date Melancholy Melanie. No guy wants to make out with Pitiful Patty. I’ve even had past boyfriends refer to me as “a drama queen” and “crazy.” I felt embarrassed and degraded. I clammed up. I froze. I withdrew and sank further.

After last year, I knew I wasn’t going to survive another winter without help. Some sort of springtime self-preservation kicked in and, humiliation be damned, I started talking about my seasonal depression. In anticipation of a brutal winter, I spent many of my sultry summer days researching SAD and preparing myself for the impending gloom.

It’s so important to be able to talk about your depression, and for those in need, please feel free to message me. And for those not comfortable discussing it, I’ve listed a few things I’m doing to combat my seasonal depression.

—> Lexapro and a plethora of depression meds were recommended to me. L-Tryptophan is an amino acid that converts to serotonin in your body. It’s all natural. It’s inexpensive. It’s over-the-counter. It promotes relaxation and restful sleep. I take two a day, and it’s worked wonders for me.

—> Be active and work out. Knowing how I’ve used cold weather as an excuse to skip the gym, I planned ahead and over the summer gradually purchased essential exercise equipment like various weights, a yoga ball, jump rope, and a Bosu balance trainer.

—> Get a Himalayan salt lamp. The lamps not only look cool, but their soft sun-like glow releases negative ions that increase serotonin and boosts energy levels.

—> Drink less alcohol. Uhhh, I know, I know. No one loves a blueberry lemon drop martini more than me, but alcohol is a depressant. If you’re already feeling awful, a few martinis will have you laying on the floor of a cab and bawling your eyes out. Or so I hear.

—> Say yes. Avoid the strong inclination to isolate yourself in your room with a plate of piping hot tater tots drenched in melted cheese and a bag of cinnamon roll flavored Oreos. Avoid the Golden Girl binges and the Real Housewife marathons. When friends invite you to brunch or the movies or a jock strap party, say yes. Go.

—> Make to-do lists, stick to them, and graciously reward yourself for your productivity. Here’s where those Oreos come into play, right?

—> Whatever you’re passionate about, make sure to set aside at least thirty minutes a day for it. Whether it’s cooking, reading, singing, sewing, playing video games, watching porn, dancing, making out with bearded boys, or whatever else that may enrich your soul and fill your spirit with joy, make sure to do it. For me, it’s writing. And maybe a couple of those other things.

—> And lastly, take the baby steps that you need to talk about your depression. The more its discussed, not only will you feel better and become more comfortable with it, others will be too. Myths and stigmas will dissipate. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Millions of people suffer from depression. There’s nothing wrong with us. Not even a little bit.