Sudden warm weather tends to make me absolutely ecstatic.
But the last few weeks in Nashville have brought some wild weather, from terrible thunderstorms to beautiful 70 degree days, to a dramatic drop to an icy 20 degrees, all within two weeks.
I tend to forget the serious impact that weather changes can have on mood. But this bout of insane weather gave me a big reminder of the reality of seasonal impacts on both depression and hypomania.
When the sun appeared out of nowhere last week I found myself suddenly in an almost manic state — cleaning my house, getting all my projects done, starting new ones and feeling almost euphorically confident. Then as the rain and cold set in days later, I became withdrawn, unmotivated and struggled to finish my work or post the blogs I wanted to. I went to my psychiatrist wondering if I was having bizarre several-day-long bipolar episodes. Thankfully, she told me the answer was more likely my mental health responding to the changing weather.
I was so glad to have this clarity about my last few weeks. But with another couple months of potentially temperamental weather before summer, I need to make sure I am prepared to deal with the mental impact on the seasons.
So here’s what I’m doing to stay sane. To start, I’m looking into buying a special seasonal depression light, which helps mimic the effects of the sun on your brain while you’re at your desk. I’ve also found that I need to make sure I get out of bed early and kickstart my day with caffeine on the colder and drearier days. Honestly, if I don’t force myself to get working, I may end up lying in bed for hours doing nothing while it rains. On the sunnier days when I suddenly feel like superwoman, I’m making sure to take time for mindfulness and meditation, to help balance out my suddenly hyperactive brain.
Most importantly, we all need to have a little grace with ourselves during this time when our mental health may be a bit less reliable.
What do you do for seasonal mental health? Let me know in the comments!