Over the past few months,I’ve spent a lot of timethinking about what life waslike before the pandemic. Therewere so many days I chose tospend my time at home whenI could have been out with myfriends-- oh the irony. While IOP-EDSEASONAL AFFECTIVEDISORDER: HOW TO COPEDURING A PANDEMICBY GRACE JONESwas stuck at home and trying tofigure out how to adapt to thisnew reality, I learned two things:how much I depend on myfriends and how FaceTime can’tcompare to seeing someone inperson. The pandemic has takenaway moments we once tookfor granted, and for those whothrive off human connection,digital substitutes can’t compareto these lost moments. Still,where there is darkness, there islight. For many, the outdoorshave been a place of solacethroughout these difficult times,and the changing of seasonsthreatens the addition of newproblems.Each year when the daysbegin to get shorter, the weatherstarts to get colder, and nightfallcomes earlier and earlier, there’salways a dark cloud hoveringover people affected by SeasonalAffective Disorder (SAD).Despite SAD affecting 5% ofthe U.S. adult population, itis still a misunderstood andmisinterpreted condition. Whileit shares certain similarities withdepression, seasonal depressiondiffers in two main aspects:it occurs at the same timeevery year and is most directlyaffected by the weather. Forpeople suffering from SAD,social interaction is importantin navigating the additionalstressors put on them during thistime of year.Junior Anastasia Figart hasexperienced SAD firsthand andfound that the main thing thathelped her through was beingwith her friends.“They remind me that eventhough it may be gloomy, thesedays are exactly like the rest andI shouldn’t let these shadowshold me,” Figart said.For her and the thousandsof people that are experiencingSAD right now, this option has
23 | WINTER 2020been taken away. The pandemichas trapped the majority ofus within the confines of ourhouse, and the little connectionsthat brought us together are nolonger there.I’ve always felt like the mostimportant moments are thesmall ones that fill our days.Giving your favorite teacher ahigh five in the hallway, sharingyour morning Dunkin’ coffeewith your friends, or evensomething as simple as passingnotes back and forth in class.All these little things brought uscloser together even if for justa second and, for people whostruggle to find happiness dueto SAD, it’s moments like thesethat can mean a lot.For several students at StateHigh, these little momentsthat have been taken away havemade a big difference. JuniorJames Dobson, who has beenexperiencing SAD since he was13, shared that COVID-19 justheightened the feeling that hewas already experiencing.“The cabin fever definitelyelevated it to an extent,” Dobsonsaid. “Staying inside with thisconstant fear of going outsidemade things so much worse.”As we continue to stay inremote learning, we spend eightor more hours a day staring ata screen. While the strain ofremote learning is undeniable,the remote format can offera moment of relief for thosestruggling with SAD. Dobsonfound that being virtual allowedhim to fill more of his day withthings that bring him happiness.“It was definitely helpfulbecause it allows me to do otherthings that make me feel a littlebetter about the situation,”Dobson said.It’s especially important tocheck in on your friends now.Since SCASD is fully remote, it’squite easy for students to hidefrom their peers and teachers.Symptoms that might start toshow in school can be hiddennow that students are learningfrom behind a screen. Althoughbeing virtual can give some reliefin a tough moment, it can makeit too easy for students to act likethey’re fine.For those who feel like they’restruggling or developing SAD,students shared tips that they’vefound helpful.Dobson recommends that youtry to do things that still makeyou happy but follow COVIDregulations.“Take a long walk and listento music, take a warm bath, andtreat yourself with love--or atleast try to,” Dobson said.Figart encourages students toengage in wellness activities.“Meditation or exercise tohelp clear your mind,” Figartsaid. She also shared thatplanning something to lookforward to can help boost yourmood and get you excited for thenext day.These are hard times foreverybody, so if you or anyoneyou know is struggling orfeels they may be experiencingSAD, please reach out to yourcounselors, parents, friends,and/or the SAMHSA NationalHotline at 1-800-662-HELP.