I haven’t written on here in a while. I want to say that it’s because I’ve been busy and I don’t have time to write blog posts and manage my website, but the truth is, I do have the time and energy — I just stopped redirecting it here. Instead, I was spending more of my free time watching shows, stress eating food, and focusing on things like academics and my business. For the last month or so, I’ve been stuck in a black hole of self-pity, asking questions like “Why do I never have enough time for this?” “Why do I put so much effort into things like school and never get the results I want,” and “Why do I feel so unfulfilled and unhappy?”
My Own Mental Health Experience:
As earlier readers may know, I’ve struggled with mental health and self-love for a while. I was really depressed when I was in middle school and spent more time than I would like to admit battling my inner demons who, alongside pressure from my family and friends, told me that I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t deserve happiness. While my anxiety has improved significantly since 7th grade, I’m still relatively well acquainted with panic attacks and still am no way immune to intense bouts of crying and self-loathing. Yet for the last year or so, I thought I was better. I thought I had healed. I was happy, content, and filled with life and love.
Unfortunately, feeling better isn’t something that always lasts very long for me. There are days (typically during my periods and whatnot) where I can spend hours sobbing because I feel lame for always canceling outings and party invites because I need to study or because my parents refuse to let me out. And yet hours later, I’ll be perfectly fine albeit confused as to how I had been so upset earlier. My doctor told me it was just hormones and my parents agreed.
So when I posted about how I had been feeling lately and one of my friends brought up Vitamin D pills as a way to alleviate depressive states during the fall and winter, I was both curious and surprised.
And honestly? I wouldn’t be surprised if my recent mood swings and relapse correlated some way to vitamin D deficiency. As a student, I spend 90% of my day indoors both at school and at home. The only real time I’m outdoors is when I’m waiting for the bus or walking home. Even when I do go out with my friends, we usually go shopping or find a restaurant to eat at. Occasionally, we’ll even have an outdoor photo shoot if our busy schedules allow us to.
However, I spend significantly less time outdoors in the fall than I do in the summer.
Coincidentally enough, summer was also the last time that I remember being truly intensely and entirely happy.
So at the end of the day, it’s pretty safe to assume that I don’t get enough Vitamin D…and you probably don’t either.
So, how is VD related to mental health?
Well, according to Psychology Today, people who live in northern climates (like myself) are more likely to seek out information about depression online during the winter. Low blood levels of vitamin D are linked to more signs of depression. In other research, people who attempted suicide had much lower vitamin D levels than other depressed people who weren’t suicidal or a group of healthy controls. Vitamin D lowers one kind of inflammation, which has been linked to suicide.
Many parts of the brain, including those involved with depression, contain receptors for Vitamin D. It may increase the available serotonin, the way the SSRIs do. In a way, VD is harder because it’s not as simple as eating more VD rich foods. Having at least 10 minutes of straight sunshine with your face is the only way to truly the way to maintain these levels and increase happiness levels. It could take dozens of glasses of milk to match the Vitamin D generated by ten minutes of summer sun on bare skin.
The sad and unfortunate truth is that there are many people, myself included, who continue to struggle to make time for those 10 minutes. Even when you do go outside, some days, especially in the winter, it could take much longer to soak up the same amount of sunshine. That’s why I made sure to stop by my pharmacy the other day and pick up Vitamin D pills. Although I haven’t started taking them yet, by the end of this winter, I’ll be able to report my results.
Do you think the correlation between vitamin D and happiness is significant? Comment your thoughts below!