If you are not familiar with C-PTSD or Seasonal Affective Disorder but are a person who lives in an oppressive environment and suffers from post-holiday blues, this article is for you. The holidays are trying times for most Americans, with October, November, December, and January often times feeling the worst. The coldest months in North America (like February and March) bring the most doom and gloom in Northern States, but people down South tend to suffer more physical symptoms and ailments during colder months, too. If you have ever wondered why — or felt like you are caught each and every year in a “Groundhog Day” movie reel, bone-chilling loop, there’s a reason for the seasonal post-holiday blues.
Not only do the warm days of summer turn into fall festival fodder, the fanciful falling leaves are a harsh foreshadowing of the dark night of the seasonal soul that hearkens annually. While folks who have positive, loving, and supportive families look forward to annual ski trips, making snowmen, and sledding together, other folks who are less fortunate (for whatever reason) spend the cold winter months skating on proverbial thin emotional ice. For men, women, and children around the world who live with people who have Cluster B personality disorders or with narcissistic peer groups who are toxic by nature, the late fall and winter months can be an unbelievably sad and dreadful time.
That’s why all folks who suffer from stress caused by antagonistic relatives and house mates need to be all the more careful about pro-actively maintaining healthy self-care rituals — to ensure that Seasonal Affective Disorder does not come out of the post-holiday blues and hit us like an oncoming train. The effects of C-PTSD are conditioned, meaning humans exposed and subjected to psychological, physical, and emotional trauma on an ongoing basis are conditioned into having an odd mix of PTSD, trauma-induced grief-stricken shock, related depressed affectations paralleling a deer in headlights form of numb, and generalized anxiety related to never knowing when the rug will be pulled out from under victim’s feet while they are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Mix being locked indoors with antagonists for months at a time, take away the opportunity to garden, see blue skies, or feel the sunshine on your face while the rest of you feels warm, and whamo — S.A.D. symptoms are likely to pop up.
C-PTSD is a condition psychologists, mental health care professionals who don’t listen, and medical health care providers who pay little care or attention to their patients’ real healthcare needs are only now starting to realize exists and is common. People living with a person or persons who meet diagnostic criteria for personality disorders like NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), ASPD (Anti-Social Personality Disorder), HPD (Histrionic Personality Disorder), and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) are likely to develop severe C-PTSD over time — but only if they are average to highly sensitive people themselves by nature.
Those who are narcissistic or “thick-skinned” tend to thrive on the competitive interplay between themselves and their contemporaries. A defining characteristic of narcissistic people is they all behave with a pervasive sense of entitlement. Seeing every social interaction as a form of competition, many will use the holidays as an excuse to psychologically and emotionally brutalize family members or house mates who are “weaker” — meaning people who they perceive to be more sensitive.
Despite studies showing that people who endure harsh living conditions but retain empathy being more successful as a biological species from a Darwinian perspective, victims of Narcissistic Abuse are often ridiculed for their good nature, kind character, willingness to strive to People Please, and for their moral nature. Such sensitive souls are oftentimes gifted in emotional intelligence — also known as EQ — as much or more so that IQ [meaning their academic intelligence quotient].
Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms, then, are likely to manifest in individuals who already have a weakened or compromised immune system. Noting energy sensitivity, sensitivity to light and temperature, and difficulty living strictly under artificial lights are common traits for people with HSP [Highly Sensitive Personalities], it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that a person who already suffers from C-PTSD is going to struggle during winter months in part due to the nature of the weather but more so because of limited mobility.
People who live in warmer climates have a much easier time chasing away winter blues because literally — they can escape their families. Taking the dog for a walk in the yard without having to bundle up like Nanook of the North or worrying about a pet’s delicate paws freezing gives pet owners a chance to step outside for some fresh air and sunlight. A leisurely stroll past the community pool, a walk around the yard to pick up leaf clutter, or to retrieve mail from the mailbox is possible if and when an oppressive life-mate will grant you the opportunity to step outside without being sanctioned.
[Yes — some spouses are that irrational and controlling that a scapegoat target even setting foot outside the home to a porch can start WWIII.]
But both Northerners and Southerners feel the chilling cold of seasonal affectation disorder more when and if they are being actively abused, mistreated, invalidated, gaslighted, and/or are suffering from pervasive, persistent, psycho-social emotional abuse. The Mayo Clinic might not say that people behaving horrifically in November and December months (who are negatively triggered by the holidays) help lead to a health decline, but victims of targeted attacks show all the physical signs of having endured come January and February, and seasonal escalations patterns are finally being discussed by mental health care professionals as facts.
The Mayo Clinic does point out the following physiological symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder without making a single mention that people who live in abusive environments are likely to experience the symptoms of S.A.D. more profoundly, when and if they are HSP and the people who they are surrounded by are abusive by nature, irrational, or have some form of abusive and mean-spirited personality disorder. They share information about Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms, noting the following affectations:
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on seasons. So symptoms of major depression may be part of SAD, such as:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Having low energy
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having problems with sleeping
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Fall and winter SAD
Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:
- Tiredness or low energy
- Problems getting along with other people
- Hypersensitivity to rejection
- Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Agitation or anxiety
The Mayo Clinic also notes that bipolar conditions are oftentimes made worse by seasonal changes. As such, people with a propensity for becoming depressed or suicidal during such dark nights of the soul should be proactive about planning rescue remedy intervention strategies to limit their depression throughout the cold months of the year.
Understanding that C-PTSD (as a complex form of conditioned PTSD) is brought about by the following is one of the best ways people at risk for experiencing seasonally depressed affectations can protect themselves. Regarding the root (systemic) causes of the physiological development of symptoms, the Mayo Clinic clearly states the following regarding forensic psychology — noting each bullet point or a combination of causes can bring on physical symptoms for a person who has experienced one or more of the following kinds of trauma:
- Combat exposure
- Childhood neglect and physical abuse
- Sexual assault
- Physical attack
- Being threatened with a weapon
The source notes, “Many other traumatic events also can lead to PTSD, such as fire, natural disaster, mugging, robbery, car accident, plane crash, torture, kidnapping, life-threatening medical diagnosis, terrorist attack, and other extreme or life-threatening events.” But truly, could anything be much more psychologically traumatizing than having to spend the Christmas season and New Years holidays trapped inside a house with a bitter, aggressive, and passive-aggressive Narcissist? How about celebrating the season with a Psychopath? Or worse — being forced to entertain and play host or hostess for a visiting clique of individuals whose personality or temperament resemble Dark Triads?
[Catch our drift? Whatever social and emotional abuse variation of an archetypal character an abuse victim has to put up with, there is nothing more to look forward to than more of the dark, depressing, chilly, gray-day same… year after year… ad infinitum. The pressure of dreading the holidays alone is enough to drive even someone like Mother Theresa or Gandhi insane.]
Ultimately, knowing that a profound sense of hopelessness with regard to having an ability to avoid either the cold or their abusive family members tends to set in seasonally for C-PTSD victims who — by no fault of their own — are likely to have been born into a family that teaches them learned helplessness. To that end, getting incredibly clear about how to go gray rock around abusers as well as creating new rituals for positive self-care are crucial to do for any victim of persistent, ongoing, pervasive domestic abuse.
Run an internet search for S.A.D. symptoms and cures like eating a wide variety of bright, colorful fresh foods, changing out light bulbs in your home and at your desk at the office with ones specially designed to put out the right kind of ray to simulate sunlight in order to promote growth instead of withering, and figure out tiny rituals and routine habits that can be done in private to help shake off the heebie jeebies that tend to come from having to deal with grouchy, impossible to please people who love picking on other people and sadistically tormenting them incessantly as a boredom-alleviating activity.
If you live in a toxic family environment, resist the urge to buy into the fact that your seasonal depression is in any way unhealthy or unnatural. People who live in abusive environments and get stressed out trying to survive are those the most likely to be further handicapped psychologically and emotionally when they lose even more mobility due to cold weather, snow storms, frosty temperatures, icy winds, slippery (frozen) walkways. It’s even worse on days where poor driving conditions and roads covered with black ice make day-escape difficult at best. Long, dark nights trapped in the house with abusive people make nights seem like decades as well.