Does Your Depression And Anxiety Increase When the Weather Changes?



It's Friday, a beautiful bright day. The weather is going to be sunny and warm over the weekend. Everyone is getting ready to have a bbq, open a few beers, and relax in the park. You would think that for someone who suffers from depression a bit of sunshine after all of the rain would offer some relief, something to look forward to, a chance to heal. For some that may be the case, but for me, it is quite the opposite.

It is commonly known that the cold, dark, wet weather and short days results in higher cases of depression. But for me, that kind of day is an opportunity to hide away when I am feeling low and not feel bad about retiring to bed early when I am exhausted from trying to appear normal and function well like everyone else around me. It means I feel less exposed when I go out because there are fewer people around and I can hide away underneath my hat, a scarf, and a big coat and feel invisible. I think I am at my most relaxed in the autumn and wintertime. I can feel like myself.

When the weather changes from being cold, wet, and grim to warm, bright and sunny, I start to feel very, very anxious. I don't think living in a big city like London helps matters. The sun appears and everyone comes out to play, except me. 

I sit at home trying to convince myself that I'll enjoy my walk with the dog once I get out there, and I probably will if I stick to the backstreets and avoid the parks. The whole point of walking the dog when the weather is nice though is to go to the park. And because I have a dog, I have to go to the park, every single day, otherwise, I feel even more guilty and down on myself for being such an unsociable weirdo and making my dog depressed too!

Yesterday I was in the park watching my dog play with someone else's dog, and the dog's owner ambled up to me and said " Oh isn't it lovely?" She was referring to the sunshine. 

"Yes," I replied with a big smile on my face especially for her, "It really is lovely." 

And I wasn't lying, it was beautiful and I was rather enjoying the warmth on my back. What I kept to myself was the fact that it had taken me two hours to convince myself to take my dog to the park that morning, and I had planned a route that would ensure I had to pass as few people as possible, and that I wished she would go away and leave me alone to enjoy the sun when I worked so hard to get myself out into it.

It was different when I lived outside of London in the countryside and by the sea. The summer was so beautiful, and I looked forward to my walks with my dog. I could go on a long three-hour hike with her in the woods, across fields, past farmland, along the top of a clifftop looking out to sea, and we might not even pass a single human being. Or if we did we could maintain a comfortable distance. It was absolute bliss.

Living in London on the main road means that every single time I step out of my house I am confronted by people. People stand at the bus stop across the road and see me as I walk out of my front gate. People try to make eye contact as I walk past them on the street. People watch me from their cars when they are stuck in traffic. The builders down the road see me pass by every single day. The man in the corner shop talks to me when I go to buy milk. 

What's worse is that people interact with me more because I have the cutest dog in the world, and because my dog wants to be everybody's friend, for some reason that makes people think I want to be their friend too. They smile at me and say hello, or comment on how lovely my dog is, which I appreciate, but really I just want them not to notice me at all. And when the weather improves, like this weekend, all of this social activity increases in intensity because suddenly everyone is in a good mood. To top it off everyone looks amazing, and they flaunt their wellness as they strut about in their sunglasses and summer outfits.

I don't want to pull anyone down with me. In fact, I am not even feeling that low today. But I am still dreading my afternoon walk with the dog. The park will be full of picnics and my dog will be targeting anyone with food, which means that I have to interact with people in order to apologise for my shameless dog trying to steal their sandwiches. Everyone will be out with their dogs, and while I do love to see my dog being sociable and enjoying herself, it doesn't mean that I want to be sociable too. 

You can't escape people in the summertime though. Anxiety and depression are ever-present for people like me (if there are indeed other people like me).  And just when I am starting to get used to it all, the weather changes back and the healing warmth I have just started to enjoy is gone.

I feel like I might be the only person in the world who feels like this about the weather because I hear so many talking about it the other way around. I am the kind of person who looks ahead at the weather forecast to see when it is going to be hot, not because I am looking forward to it, but because I need time to mentally prepare myself. Do you experience anything similar? Tell me I'm not the only one. 


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Why I Blog About My Mental Illness

 


Should I Blog About My Mental Health?


To write about uncomfortable stuff, or not to write about it, that is the question...

Whenever I publish a post on this blog I find myself plagued with the question of whether or not I should be writing about my mental illness. Part of me wants to talk about it, I did start this blog to give myself a voice, after all. But there is always that nagging other voice that creates doubt, and I wonder what other people must think of me.

It's not that I am worried about what people will think of me as a sufferer of mental illness, but more about what they will think of me writing about it. Will they think I am a drama queen? Will they think I am self-indulgent? Why is she always writing about herself?

After some thought, I have decided to address this self-doubt, by reminding myself of why I blog about my mental illness, alongside some humour and words of wisdom.

If you are thinking of starting your own blog or YouTube channel to talk about your mental health problems, then you might find this blog post inspiring... or funny... either is fine.


5 Reasons Why I Write About My Bipolar Disorder (Cyclothymia)


I have separated all of the reasons into 5 points. I hope these answer all of your questions... and my own!


1.  I Enjoy It - Writing About Mental Health Is Like Self-Therapy


Writing has always been an outlet for me to express myself. I don't have many (or any) close friends, and my family relations have always been troublesome. 

Writing about myself, my feelings, and my experiences have helped me to process these things in a healthier way. I am pouring my woes into a creative activity that I am passionate about. What is the harm in that?

Many people might have put some humanitarian reason for their first point in a list like this, and while those will definitely show up further down in my list, the main reason I write... not gonna lie... is for me. 

It's my little guilty pleasure.


2. One Day I Hope To Become Rich And Famous


Yep, another unconventional reason to write about mental health or mental illness - I know! But it's true. Maybe not in the way that you think though. 

There are a number of things about me, that are directly related to my disorder, which cause much frustration in my professional life.


Firstly...

I am highly creative but hopeless at business. This means that my creative output is high, but the financial return is low. Too low. Sometimes non-existent in fact.

The problem here is that I can't feed my cat, my dog, and myself each month on air. Sometimes I just have to choose one of us to feed while the other two starve for 30 days. I'm just kidding. Kind of. 

Becoming rich and famous might help pay for necessities like pet food... and also non-essentials, like pet treats and toys, and maybe... more pets. Don't judge me, I need the extra love.


Secondly...

The symptoms of my condition mean that I am in a constant inner and outer battle with my professional and personal identity. 

This has had a horrible impact on my life, creating a never-ending cycle of self-perceived failure. 

Hypomania fuels the creativity, but inflates my ego and carries me off on random tangents away from my main goals and commitments. Anxiety makes me question everything, all of the time. And depression wipes me out for intermittent periods where I cease to function as a human being, let alone a creative professional. 

Becoming rich and famous might ease the pressure... Don't tell me money doesn't buy happiness, I won't believe you until I've tried it.


And thirdly...

Self-validation. For someone who rides the rollercoaster of mental illness and mood swings, being rich and famous might help to provide a mirror for those times I find myself in doubt of who I am, what I'm doing, and why I'm doing it. 

For many creatives, our work feels like a fraud, until other people rave about how great we are. 

You draw and write stories for a living? Surely those are just hobbies? Nope, they are in fact real jobs but try telling my inner voice of doubt that when I am sitting in bed with my pyjamas on and a hundred tabs open on my laptop because I'm a workaholic that likes to be cosy while she works.

Of course, I am a total introvert, and so becoming rich and famous probably wouldn't work at all for me (it's nice to dream). I do hope that one day I might write a book, or create a course, or land an awesome column on a high-profile magazine, or something like that, and carve out a comfortable and successful professional life for myself. That would be nice.


3. I Want To Share All Of My Amazing Discoveries About Bipolar Disorder & Cyclothymia


It may sound weird, but a lot of this stuff is new and intriguing to me too. Despite having lived with cyclothymic disorder my whole adult life, I am only now starting to learn, understand, and recognise things about myself, and be able to account for all of my personal fails. 

It's like I am finally "meeting myself" and "introducing myself" to the world for the first time. To me, my diagnosis has been groundbreaking and I am constantly surprised and morbidly fascinated when I observe my mental illness in action.

I am a curious soul by nature and have always been one to head off down a rabbit hole in search of answers and new discoveries. Discovering that I have inherited bipolar from my family gene pool has given me the opportunity to seek out and soak up a whole new world of information about something I knew nothing about before. 

It goes without saying that I want to share all of my newfound knowledge with someone... anyone... A blog seemed like the perfect place to regurgitate.


4. I Want To Forgive Myself For Not Being Perfect


I know that nobody is perfect, with or without mental health struggles. I am a Virgo, however, and Virgos always strive for perfection, regardless of whether it is achievable. 

All my life I have chided myself for not achieving everything I knew deep down that I was capable of. I simply couldn't understand why I was always failing, always struggling with the simple things, and always feeling so lost and confused and misunderstood. 

Writing this blog has provided me with a way to explore my past self, and be a little kinder to myself.


5. And Finally, I Want To Help Others To Understand Their Mental Health Struggles


I have chosen to place this reason at the bottom of my list, not because it is the least important reason for me wanting to write a blog about my mental illness, but because you can only help others if you help yourself first.

My blog is my space. First and foremost, it is for me. And by sharing my stories I hope to connect with others and offer what I needed when I first received my diagnosis... just to know that I'm not the only one going through this. 

One of the first people who reached out to tell me they had read my blog told me that it was like they were reading about themselves.

That is exactly what I want to achieve here. If you can see yourself in my stories, then you know you are not alone in this struggle. Many before you have gone through the same things, and many after you will too. 

This blog may sound like it is about me, but really it is about us all.


Thank You For Reading


I feel much better now. If you enjoyed reading this post, do me a favour and do these three small things...

  1. Leave a comment
  2. Subscribe to my blog
  3. Share the post

Thanks a lot!


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I write about a variety of topics, including mental disorders (like bipolar, cyclothymia, depression and anxiety) but also everyday mental health challenges and self-care tips. Subscribe to my mailing list and never miss a post...