For many of us who struggle with a mental illness, such as depression, the summertime can be a challenge. It can be a struggle to fit in with what’s expected of us during the summer months, which typically conjures up an image of joy, vacation, friendship, and warmth. However, having those ‘endless summer nights’ isn’t something everyone can enjoy.
Summer for me has always been an overwhelming time of year, and I haven’t always known how to deal with it by myself. When I was younger, the run-up to summer was something that I was intimidated by and it pushed me further into my shell.
I was heavily impacted by the magazines I’d see on the shelf in the shops, staring down at me with the ideal beach body or a new fad diet. At the age of 10 I was forced into a mind-set of having to look a certain way to be able to put on a bikini. Being exposed to influences like this at such a young age only heightened my depression at that time of year, resulting in me being more enclosed.
At that age, I didn’t know what depression was and it just led to me being even more confused
My family constantly urged me to go outside and do things with my friends that I just simply didn’t want to do. I remember one day during summer, a friend and I went to the local swimming pool. It was clear she was having so much fun and enjoying the warm weather. With a constant smile plastered on her face, she splashed around in the pool, clearly unaffected by something that kept me back.
At that age, I didn’t know what depression was and it just led to me being even more confused and upset as to why I couldn’t spend my summer relaxing like everyone else. As I sat back and watched my friend enjoy herself, it felt like there was a glass wall between me and the person I wanted to be.
I walked around with what felt like a little rain cloud over my head.
Going into my teenage years, I carried on disliking summer and ended up spending a lot of my time in bed staring at the ceiling. I didn’t feel overly sad or upset, I just didn’t feel anything at all. I had no desire to go outside and be with my friends. When I eventually did go outside, at first all I saw were people enjoying themselves in the sun while I walked around with what felt like a little rain cloud over my head.
Having depression in the summer can feel incredibly isolating but you are not alone in feeling that. There are ways to be able to enjoy your summer without forcing yourself into something you’re not comfortable with.
Here are some things that helped me with my depression during summer:
You do not have to show your skin
Keeping specific items of clothing on when at the beach or if the weather is hot is okay. Do what’s best for you. However, make sure you’re hydrated and safe. If you are not in this situation, make sure not to pressure other people into wearing something else. If they say they’re comfortable, let them be!
Not all your summer activities have to be outside
Remember, you are always in control and you have the right to choose what you do with your summer! Going to the beach or pool isn’t a requirement, it’s an option. If you’re with a group of friends and making decisions on what to do, try and voice your opinion if you are uncomfortable with an activity.
Talk to someone who can help you
No matter what time of year, you can still get help. Whether you talk to a therapist, a doctor, a friend or a family member, it’s important to share with someone you trust and address how you’re feeling. These people can help guide you in ways to help you cope better during the summertime.
Don’t let your mental illness control how you spend your summer. You don’t have to be happy just because your calendar says it’s August. Look at ways you can cope with your depression and never be afraid to seek help.
If you are struggling with depression, visit our find help guide for what you can do next and where you can go to find support.