Seasonal Affective Disorder. That time of year again.

Seasonal Affective Disorder. That time of year again.

The countdown is on. While most people are ticking off the ten weeks until Christmas Eve I am biding my time until Spring. This is the toughest time of the year for me, when Seasonal Affective Disorder kicks in. For those who do not know, SAD is a type of depression that occurs when the days get shorter and the nights get longer. The lack of sunlight affects a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which subsequently affects production of melatonin and serotonin as well as the body clock.

One in five in the UK suffer from the mild symptoms of SAD, what can be known as the ‘winter blues’. Then there is 3% of the UK population that are estimated to suffer from SAD, I am one of those.

There is very little I can do about SAD. Vitamin D tablets. A SAD lamp to ensure I wake up in light. Trying to spend so much time outside during the day. There is only so much you can do.

As soon as I leave my room I’m swathed in darkness and my mind clouds so I am persistently down. It is hard to describe. Imagine your mind stuffed with cotton wool to the extent that you have to constantly focus to make sense of everything. The effort is exhausting and then you hear a voice telling you you are useless. You consciously tell yourself to think positively while deep down inside you know it is pointless. Dark thoughts find a way in and there is no escape.

I hide myself away, which is probably the worst thing I can do. When I should be surrounding myself with friends I decide I would be better off in the flat. I find myself persuading myself to stay in. When I should be enjoying cooking or watching a film my mind drifts and I fail to think of anything positive about it. That pizza I just made SHOULD taste delicious but doesn’t. That report I just filed SHOULD make sense but every time I read it the words simply fall away.

You begin to dread everything. You convince yourself that your team will lose 5-0. That the film you are about to see will be terrible. That those clouds will burst and you will get soaked. That whatever you say to a girl you like will only push her further away. That you won’t get invited out anyway and even if you did you would be the overweight, fun sucking void in the room.

You start to feel guilty when you have done nothing wrong. Did I say the right thing to that person? Shit, they probably hate me now don’t they. And so the despair cycle rolls on.

You suffer from mood swings. One minute you are bouncing, the next in a slump (apparently it’s called hypomania).

You become anxious and unable to cope with everyday stresses like making your breakfast and getting to work on time. Occasionally these manifest into panic attacks as one mistake and one failure leads into another and another…

You start to feel worthless. That dark voice in your head keeps telling you that you are unattractive, useless and everyone hates you. Part of your daily routine becomes pointless and you question why you should look your best when you leave the house, so why should I bother putting product in my hair? I’ve got a thick skin but at times I just want to hide myself in a room to avoid pissing anyone off or causing myself any trouble.

You start to feel constantly tired. Going to bed early seems like a good idea but you still wake feeling lethargic and no amount of brews will push it back. That is if you manage to get a full nights sleep.

Your appetite shifts and you find yourself comfort eating/snacking to make you feel a little bit better.You put on weight and thus feel even more worthless.

Your libido vanishes, possibly due to the fact that you do not feel as if you want to look your best and head outside. When you feel worthless there is not much point putting yourself out there.

This has been happening for around a decade but I still fail to know how to cope with it. Friends have been told, friends have deserted me when I have needed them. My boss knows but that does not stop me continuing to be in a constant state of irritability at work. I am trying to book in plans to give me things to look forward to and find myself shopping to give me a short sense of pleasure but it is to little avail. Typing this out brings a sense of calm and catharsis but for anyone who reads this please bear my mind in mind.


Ground Zero

So here we are again, singledom. I’ve been here enough times to notice a pattern. That relationships go through stages; the flirting, the first date, the late night fondling followed by frequent weekend visits. At all of these stages something can go wrong yet it seems as if you pass effortlessly until you get to a point. Last night I reached that point.

Just when you think you have a woman sussed any man is at his most vulnerable. One ill-received remark, a bit of awkwardness and a night when you aren’t quite sure how tightly you should hold her. The gap gets bigger until it fills the room the following morning, after that it is just a series of formalities and a game of who will make the final move first. She did. Via text.

I kinda hoped this would have lasted a bit longer, perhaps for the summer but it is what it is. I’m 33 this September and while so many of my peers are celebrating their first, second, third Fathers Day I’m at Ground Zero with no hope of my loins creating an heir anytime soon. Just at the point when I think Mum might be getting some good news and the far away hope of grandchildren I have to again tell her ‘Nope, not seeing anyone at the moment’.

Thoughts Running through my mind. One week remaining. Saturday Morning.

Apologies for the lack of any updates in the last few weeks, I have kept up with the training plan and now it has reached the tapering stage. This morning was the final ‘long run’ before the main event next week.

8.45am. Cold. Drizzle. Could be thinking ‘sod this, back to bed’, but if anything this’ll be the perfect preparation.

Toilet. Shirt off. T-shirt and Hoodie on. Earphones in. Stretches. Water. Out.

Look at all those Parkrunners whizzing around.

Ugh. Brocco Bank. Plus there’s someone on the other side slowly overtaking me. STOP THAT.

Still uphill. Past Hallam Tower. Wish they’d do something with that building.

Keep a steady pace. Feel the burn. Keep going.

Looks like the weather has put off a few runners, the jessies.

Out to Manchester Road, what a view that is overlooking Sheffield.

Downhill. Mmm.

Do I put the hood up or down? Decisions.

Halfway, still feeling strong. The playlist is all I want and more. Choons galore.

Uphill, bit of a struggle. Back downhill for the final straight. Reckon I could do that again.

Can’t wait for next week. No pedestrians. No dogs. No cars. No crossing. Just, running.

9.73km in 54:31. Very satisfying.

If you do want to sponsor me I’m raising money for Katherine House Hospice, a great cause that my late father came out of retirement to help –

Thoughts Running through my mind. Four weeks remaining. Saturday Morning.

Lying in bed. Tight hamstring all week. Do I a) Go for a run or b) Go for a swim? *looks outside* Oh my, can’t stay indoors with weather like that. Guardian Football Weekly Podcast Time.

So early, even the Parkrunners aren’t out yet.

If I’m going to overtrain I need to get some miles in before the dreaded Ringinglow Road hill. Forge Dam and back used to be a run on its own. Ugh.

PARKRUN TIME. Look at them all, it’s like a giant running centipede.

Right turn. Up Ecclesall Road South. Can’t wait for the organised run so I don’t have to evade cars and idle middle-aged toffs who have no spatial awareness.

Ringinglow Road. Ridiculously steep.

Three weeks ago I did this route and a tall, fit, bald man joined my route AND THERE HE IS AGAIN. *five minutes later* He’s a mere blip on the horizon.

Norfolk Arms. F*** you Beats By Dre Man. I’ll step into the mud while you waddle past. Don’t mind me.

Where are these llamas?

Downhill. Weeeee.

Crap. Children. Spatial awareness – Nil. I’ll just ‘gently’ push him out of the way. Don’t turn round. His Mum might spot me.

Oh hai Parkrunners. We meet again.

Brocco Bank. Legs are going. Hamstring is ok. Playlist on. Easy run. I’ll let this girl overtake me.

There she is. I’ll just overtake her. Feels good.


Just half an hour to go according to the training plan. Soddit. Make it 15. Ok. 20.

Done. You know you’ve smashed it when walking feels a lot tougher than running did a few minutes ago.

Thoughts Running through my mind. Five weeks remaining. Saturday Evening.

Home for Mothers Weekend and forgot my shorts, hence breaking in these new ones. Zipped pockets though FTW.

Usually I turn left at the bridge to run by the canal to the Britannia Stadium and back. Feeling I’ll need a change of scenery for motivation, I turn right.

Cold. Bit of drizzle. Jacket on. Guardian Football Weekly podcast playing. Ideal.

Some lovely barges round this end.Like a posh, pedestrian mobile home on water.

No dog walkers, this is awesome.

Ooo, there’s Wedgwood.

Now it’s Barlaston, lovely little village.

No, don’t wave at the passing train. What are you, ten?

There’s an actual llama farm. I didn’t even know that existed this close to my childhood home.

This pair of lads are running a hell of a lot faster than me. They actually seem out of breath.

Ow, tight hamstring. That’ll be why. Don’t strain yourself.

Pretty sure I’m going so slow I’m giving myself a cold.

Stone. Halfway. I remember this lock, it was part of the school run on the way to primary school, I actually believed bears roamed those woods. Idiot.

There’s my nursery school, halcyon days.

Ow, actually feels like my right kneecap is about to bounce off.

Plus my left sock has a hole my big toe is popping itself through. Let’s just get this over with.

14.34km in 115 minutes. IS THAT IT? Ugh. So slow



Thoughts Running through my mind. Five weeks remaining. Wednesday Evening.

At 2pm this afternoon it was bright sunshine and light winds. Standard that at 5pm when I decide to run it is horizontal drizzle.

Jacket on. Hood up. Football Weekly podcast playing.

Classic commuter. Can’t be bothered to look out of his window so he just follows traffic instead of letting me cross the road. Prick.

Midweek means all the fit, healthy runners are out. Lordie, I feel obese.

Students. Professional looking runners in neon. Then there’s me in ridiculously baggy, black shorts.

I’ve done 1 minute tempo run, 2 minutes recovery x 6. Fine.

2 minutes tempo run, 2 minutes recovery x 6. That was ok.

3 minutes tempo run, 1 minute recovery x 6. Struggled with that one.

This evening it’s 8 minutes tempo run, 2 minutes recovery x 3. Yup. Might die.

Eight minutes is really long when you’re out of breath. You think it’s six minutes in when it’s only three. Just. Keep. Going.

Second set. Two minutes recovery!? IS THAT IT?

Third set. Totally cool with this. There’s a casual jogger ahead. I’ll overtake him if I’m doing a tempo run.

*Two minutes later* I’m closing in.

*Further four minutes later* Nope. He’s still yards away.

Skinny people make running look so damn easy.

Done. Time for a banana chia milkshake and chicken. Lots of chicken

Thoughts Running through my mind. Five weeks remaining. Monday Evening.

Just when you think it’s warming up the jacket AND Arctic Monkeys beanie hat are on.

Serial podcast time. Though the second season is wholly less engrossing I still think I’m missing something with Beau.

Sprinting between people so I don’t have to hold back. Some pedestrians just WANT to get in the way.

Still can’t get over how Sam Smith has an Oscar for that terrible Bond song.

Who’d have thought it, a steady half hour run has become ‘comfortable’.

20 minutes in and not a single male runner, not that that’s a complaint. It’s just, weird.

Definitely earned a huge dinner. And a peppermint hot chocolate.

Bumped into a neighbour and pretty sure I just mumbled ‘Morning’.