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.

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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. Seven weeks remaining. Monday Night

It’s 6c. The jacket is back, oh yes.

Aw no, I can hear panting behind me. If you could imagine a tortoise overtake a marginally less pedestrian tortoise that’s what this would look like.

First tempo run. Joke’s on you Mr Tortoise, I’m actually a hare. Zooooooooooooom.

If I struggle doing 2 minutes tempo run and 2 minutes recovery jog I might actually die doing 3 minutes tempo run and a minute recovery jog.

Second tempo run. Damn you hills. HOW SHORT IS A MINUTE!?

Third tempo run. Halfway. I can still breath. This is good.

Hello Mr Sheep. Looks like I’m out in the Peaks.

Fourth tempo run. A downward slope \o/ Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Fifth tempo run. Look at this, I’m actually going faster than those ‘professional’ runners.

Sixth tempo run. How short is a minute when you only have to last three more running? Easy.

And we’re back at the leisurely runner’s club pace. I’ve earned a massive dinner AND a hot chocolate.

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

Cold, bit of drizzle. Do I dare venturing out without the jacket? Soddit, let’s do this.

Saturday morning. Kinda miss ParkRun, that’s a nice, easy 5km isn’t it. Not the 15km slog I’ve got planned.

There’s some real runners out this morning in neon leggings, then there’s me struggling along in a ridiculously loose black t-shirt.

Wish I’d brought my jacket so I wouldn’t be checking if my keys had fallen out of my pocket every five minutes.

And my mp3 player.

Dang. The same girl has overtaken me twice.

Then a friend’s fiance but at least he said hello.

Changing podcast while still jogging. Who said men can’t multi-task?

Mud, lovely mud. One day I’m going to slip comically on my arse.

Dogs really are fearless, running into the path of a runner. What, do you want a stroke?

Cyclists really hate joggers don’t they.

Brocco Bank really is steep.

Oh Lordie, Westbourne Road. Only 10 more minutes and I’m still feeling comfortable.

Wish they’d do something with Hallam Tower, looks so forlorn.

Record Collector. We’re done. They’d better have copies of NME.

 

Project 365 : Days 255 to 261 – My Birthday, a failed bbq and many goodbyes

Day 255 – One of my finer homemade lunches is undoubtedly cold pizza. On this occasion I was well on the way through emptying my cupboard so using up flour, meat and oil for pizza  seemed a worthy idea. Needless to say, the lunch was terrific even if it did gain odd looks.

Cold Pizza for lunch

 

Day 256 – Seeing as it was my birthday week the theme of  meal presents continued so Tuesday meant boiled egg and soldiers for breakfast. Truly a start to the day fit for a king

Breakfast of kings

 

Day 257 – Even The Daily Fail saw fit to give me a birthday present. On this occasion the delightful Christina Hendricks (aka Joan from the fantastic Mad Men) graced their front cover from some awards ceremony or something, I wasn’t really reading…

Christina Hendricks FTW

 

Day 258 – Yup. My office is one where you strangely have to bring cake in for your own special occasion. Soddit. I wanted cake and the excuse to experiment so made a Cherry Coke Chocolate Cake. It went down a treat though you couldn’t actually taste the cherry, the cake itself was divine in its moist consistency.

Birthday cake

 

Day 259 – Despite my birthday officially signalling the death of summer I thought it a good idea to have a bbq, for one reason that I’d need the practice for Australia. Alas, the heat never occured so we ended up retiring indoors and using the grill. Still, a good time was had by all

WE HAS FIRE

 

Day 260 – Alas, the trip will also mean I’ll no longer be able to visit Old Trafford on the whim of a train ride and a spare ticket acquired from tweets. Thankfully, probably my final game of this season saw my beloved reds triumph in an entertaining game against Chelsea that will be remembered for Torres’ extraordinary miss rather than Rooney’s penalty slip.

Leaving the second home, Old Trafford

 

Day 261 – After a cursory look on the Shortlist Magazine website, I spotted these beauties; Arthur Ashe trainers from Le Coq Sportif. For weeks I’d been looking for a pair of trainers fit for the trip and finally they had made themselves known to me. Maybe it was fate but the leaving work present kitty came up to £75 and after securing a ticket to the match on Sunday and moving out in time I managed to purchase them from Ran in Manchester. For the record, there are only 2 other stockists in the UK, in London and Edinburgh.  

Birthday present, from me to me

Project 365 : Days 241 to 247 – Trainers, teeth and the arts

Day 241 – For some reason a trip away inevitably means a new pair of footwear. In this case I’m after something light and easy to wear so was musing over these slipper/plimsole hybrids in Office. Then looked at the pricetag, £35!?

More Shoe Shopping

Day 242 – Tuesday I had that troublesome tooth out and with it the absess. For the trip home I mainly spat blood on the few occasions I was out of sight. When the anaeshetic wore off, the pain returned but thankfully, a single paracetemol ended all trouble for good

Tooth Extraction Kit

Day 243 – Considering I was once desperate to appear in NME I was slightly disappointed to see my first (and probably last) appearance. Granted, I had a tooth absess but I do remember spelling out my own name…

NME Feature

Day 244 – A new month and a new piece of eye candy. For September, FHM plumped for the Victoria’s Secret model, Marisa Miller. Doesn’t do it for me but I’d watch her mow any lawn

FHM's September

Day 245 – After most festivals I fall so deep in love after a band’s performance that the afterglow lingers and I go out and purchase some albums. This year the band was Elbow so I bought the sumptuous, Build A Rocket, Boys and The Seldom Seen Kid

Post-Leeds purchasing

Day 246 – On Saturday I visited Art In The Garden at the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield. Mainly to see a friend debut two new portraits but also to see glorious pieces such as this

Art In The Gardens

Day 247 – What do you cook on Sunday when the shops are closed and you have no meat or veg? That’s right, Sunday pancakes, including my delicious cocoa pancake

Sunday pancakes

Project 365 : Days 248 to 254 – Some Pringles, 2 Monkeys and a Wedding

Day 248 – Eventually I plumped for these from Shuh for a measly £22. Bargain though I doubt I’ll be wearing them outside much

New Slippers/Plimsoles

 

Day 249 – Im all about experimenting with textures  in my lunch so decided to stick with my pasta but dash it with some crushed peppery Pringles, delicious

Pasta with Pringles

 

Day 250 – For Orange Wednesday, me and a friend went to see Rise of The Planet of The Apes so I was slightly perturbed to see The Daily Mail’s front cover just to put the film into perspective

Orange Wednesday

 

Day 251 – For the friend’s wedding I attended, seeing as the pair of them could not decide which song to do their first dance to they let the decision go to their guests. My choice was a formality but Goulding won out, probably as no-one had heard the cover from Arctic Monkeys

First Song Vote

 

Day 252 – They redeemed themselves with the disco decor as each table had a container full of sweets. Perfect for late-night dancing

Party Pick and Mix

 

Day 253 –  After the free wine I was happy with a G and T. Even if the mixer cost more than the actual gin.

Gin O'Clock

 

Day 254 – As the party died down, a few guests decided to totter from Town Hall to Leopold Square for a quick pint away from doting couples. The wait outside meant I could finally determine who was in the Sheffield Hall of Fame

Late night celebrity spotting