Seasonal affective disorder

At this time of year, lots of people are affected by SAD. Lack of sunlight leads to gloom. It isn’t helped by the November Remembrance season that year by year brings home to us the stupidity of war, or by the services of thanksgiving for those we have lost, which tend to be held in early November at All Souls’ tide. We are told that we should not be self-indulgent, and in the sense of enjoying being miserable and wallowing in the past, unable to move on, this is quite correct. But a little bit of self-indulgence can help us to acknowledge and therefore get rid of feelings of grief and loss that assail us unpredictably. If you are affected by waves of grief for a loss, no matter whether days or months or years ago, do not be hard on yourself. In your mind’s eye, see the grief in your head as a cloud (or whatever image you like) and watch it pass through your mind. It will probably come back again, but don’t fight it—let it in and see it pass through. Grief and sadness are part of the human condition and are inescapable. All we can do is weather the storms. We do not—indeed should not—ignore grief or trivialise it. Do not bottle it up. If we do, the feelings will fester like an abscess, only to erupt with all the more force some time later. Despite the blandishments of the advertising industry and the celebrity culture, human life can never be perfect or easy. We have no right to expect constant bliss. All we can do is plug on, doing our best moment by moment. We will get things wrong, and we will make decisions that turn out to have been mistaken. Accept it.

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