By Haley Quinn
Source: The Mighty
Mental illnesses are persistent — they don’t just “turn off” because the weather is getting warmer or because you have a vacation planned. For many people struggling with mental illness, this persistence can make it hard to enjoy what many deem to be a “happier” or “more exciting” time of year.
That is why we asked our Mighty mental health community to share with us some reasons summer can be hard for them as someone living with a mental illness. So if you feel overwhelmed by the expectations of summer, please remember you’re not alone.
Here’s what our community had to say:
1. The Expectation That Summer Is Fun
“I struggle as I see everyone enjoying themselves in the heat, socializing and generally having fun while I observe from my own mind prison, feeling lonely and beyond miserable.” — Douglas A.
“Feeling like I’m letting others down constantly. We have a pool, but I never want to go out there with the kids. We have family in town and I know they expect us to invite them to cookout and swim, but hosting other people is overwhelming. And then I feel guilty because it feels like I’m this big obstacle keeping others from enjoying their summer.” — Mary-Catherine M.
2. It’s Harder to Understand Why Someone ‘Could Be Depressed’ During the Summer
“Everyone accepts depression in the winter — it’s hard with the holidays and the cold and lack of sun. You hold out hope that once the sun is out and it’s warmer, you’ll feel better; but then summer comes and nothing’s changed in your mind. And people without depression don’t always understand how you can be depressed in the summer.” — Amanda M.
“Everybody tells me to just get some sun, it’ll make you forget your problems. No, it won’t. In fact, just by you saying that makes me feel inferior because I can’t go out like ‘normal’ people, which just makes my depression worse. It’s all a vicious cycle.” — Jenny S.
3. The Heat
“The heat makes me uncomfortable. Also I feel like I am expected to go out and do things when I don’t necessarily want to.” — Jazmine V.
“The heat. It literally kills me. There are times where I just sleep an entire weekend during the summer in my freezing cold bedroom because the thought of even being in sunlight like that petrifies me. And summer is a ‘social’ time — which I would rather not be most days!” — Courtney M.
“I shut down — mentally and physically — when I get too hot. In the summer, I am pressured to be social and appear happy. I would rather be a hermit in an air conditioned room. It isn’t uncommon for me to sleep all day to avoid the heat. I profusely sweat from my hairline, even if I am not exerting myself. It is embarrassing to go places and my hair looks dirty and soaking wet with sweat pouring into my eyes and down my face. It is hard to want to get dressed up for things when I always end up looking like I ran a marathon. It keeps me seeing all my flaws and pulling away from people.” — Samantha S.
4. Lack of Routine
“My routine disappears. I’m a teacher, so my day goes from being highly structured to very little structure at all. This is problematic for my struggles with binge/emotional eating, depression and napping, isolating due to the heat, not wanting to go outside and impulsive spending. It takes very intentional planning and self-discipline to not completely derail during the summer.” — Kara D.
“My kids are often the reason I force myself out of bed in the morning; by waking them up for school I insure that I make it to work on time. In the summer that routine is disrupted, and having a routine is important to keep me functioning during a depressive episode.” — Mary-Catherine M.
“Not having a set school schedule and working varied hours due to part-time work makes my week very unbalanced. If I don’t have constant plans I find myself sinking into a depressive state more often.” — Kira M.
“I have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and depression, and summer is usually a really hard time (understatement) for me because of the sudden loss of structure. I am a college student, and I’m used to being on a set schedule, seeing people daily, people to talk to, having stuff to do, etc. When this suddenly changes, I can easily drop into a pattern of isolation and oversleeping. I feel lonely, and I start to feel worthless and rethink everything. People with BPD can have a really hard time with structure loss and feeling alone and isolated, and it hits me super hard each break.” — Kellyann N.