I suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The root for this comes from a very hectic upbringing and how I was mostly alone during the cold winter season till Spring Break. So the three months of winter were me, alone, at home in the dark and cold. My mother would fill my head with boogie men to keep me from going outside. Year after year of this, and it becomes part of you, no matter how many times you try and tell yourself “it’s just a feeling.”
In 2016, I had plotted how to commit suicide. I checked into a hotel and turned off my phone because I couldn’t find a reason to live anymore. I called the suicide hotline and was talked off that ledge and into a hospital. There is where I learned what dialect behavior therapy (DBT) was and how it could be a a way to live.
I practiced long and hard with DBT until it just didn’t work anymore. Then, last year, I had another mental break and was on that ledge again. I had a violent flashback when the temperature dropped. It felt like I was suspended in Jello and forced to rewatch and feel the abuses I received when growing up.
Going down a flight of stairs was retraumatizing for me, constantly feeling I would be pushed/shoved down the stairs. Small closet doors and the sound of a chain gave me shivers up my spine. I was internally frozen; fight, flight, or freeze. I didn’t want to be in my home, and I lashed out at those I loved because I wasn’t present at that moment. I felt five years old again, and I asked for people in my home to talk and treat me as such.
I was manic.
I was so fragile.
I was not being rational.
I was planning my way out of my marriage.
I didn’t trust myself enough not to hurt myself.
I was going to live all alone, on my own, to feel some “control” over my life.
I tried distractions online, which only made it worse. It always makes it worse. I started to believe that everything I said was being read or viewed by my mother, and she would come and hurt me somehow for talking. My mother disliked me talking and often hit me or scolded me till I stopped, usually saying what I thought and felt didn’t matter.
The internet can act like this.
Last August, I enrolled myself in cognitive processing therapy (CPT), where you write out your trauma and write “for” and “against” how you feel. For example, are there more “for’s” for how I feel, or are there more “against’s?” My main goal was to complete this therapy to get into EDMR therapy due to having trauma around music.
My mania, especially when I become dissociated (dissociative amnesia), gets terrifying and unpacks trauma I didn’t know I had. My rape lives here. I was attacked into a blackout here. I never wanted to be there again. So why was I? To figure it out, I had to learn the alphabet of therapy; DBT, CPT, and soon EDMR.
I have been taking care of myself these past few months. I’m trying to figure out why last winter was so rough for me and I am working diligently, hoping to never to end up there again. If you are struggling and have cognitive processing therapy where you live, I highly suggest trying it. You may even find some books at your local library about the process or find a reliable resource online. I have used CPT tools the past few months, and with medication (and the realization work on myself will be a lifelong process), I have gotten some strength and hope back. I hope it can work for you, too.