Weather often affects people’s moods. Sunlight breaking through clouds can lift our spirits, while a dull, rainy day may make us feel a little gloomy. While noticeable, these shifts in mood generally do not affect our ability to cope with daily life. Some people, however, are vulnerable to a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. For them, the shortening days of late autumn are the beginning of a type of clinical depression that can last until spring. This condition is called “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or SAD. The Canadian Mental Health Association
I am not a fan of summer heat. If I am not by a body of water, I tend to stay indoors on the days when the heat and humidy curls the hairs on my toes. Yet, I notice as summer nears August, my mood begins to lift, and by the end of September I feel I can conquer the world! The coolness of the days, and the colorful display fall loves to give, brings me to a place of wonder and serenity.
As October begins, I am running around doing errands (with a friend), taking pictures of leaves and trees, and enjoying the joy Autumn brings me. I start to feel great and think «Hey, I love this feeling of freedom!» Feeling so grounded I start to believe that everything is going to be ok, and I have beat my depression. As the weeks move forward, and the days get shorter, something begins to change.
AND I (ahem) kinda, don’t see it coming!
Or maybe I do, but I am too busy trying to hold on to the good feelings I have not felt in over a year. I want to believe that I can run the marathon even though I have a fractured leg. I want to ignore the slow pain crawling up my spine, and move forward into the feelings of being grounded.
S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that tends to occur (and recur) as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter. It is believed that affected people react adversely to the decreasing amounts of sunlight and the colder temperatures as the fall and winter progress. (medicinenet.com)
Like we should not confuse Baby Blues with Postparnum Depression, S.A.D. Can come in a mild form of winter blues, however, 7% of the population, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, suffer from a more serious form of S.A.D.
I tend to
forget ignore I am in that 7%
Ignoring the symptoms (read here) often leads to the depression catching me off guard. Like my therapist told me last week, «It seems to blindside you!» .. and it does, right smack down in the middle of my fun! Like a good dream that you do not want to end, seasonal affective disorder wakes me up from the fun I was having reclaiming my life.
Crapity crap crap!!
The way to deal with the coming of this unwanted old friend this year, is going to be different. Next year, I hope to have a plan, but now that I was caught by surprise, or better yet by finally accepting that it came, is to ride the waves again. Now that I have practice balancing on that surfboard, I can manage how I feel by taking care of myself.
Self-care, is a long term commitment I made to myself. Unlike previous years, this year, when I finally had acceptance (from me) I whipped out my toolbox, that was not far mind you, and started to use each tool which brings me comfort.
Another thing I am working on is getting a light prescribed by my doctor. According to Dr. Roxane Dryden-Edwards: «In addition to being key in the prevention of seasonal affective disorder, regular exposure to light that is bright, particularly fluorescent lights, significantly improves depression in people with this disorder when it presents during the fall and winter. The light treatment is used daily in the morning and evening for best results.»
As I do not have a light now, I make sure I open all lights in the morning, and expose myself to sunshine (even if it is from my balcony) for at least 20 minutes a day (I try). I take my vitamins regularly, and try to walk my dog as far as I can (with agoraphobia).
Do not despair!
This is what I have told myself this week. Fearing relapse will only bring on more anxiety. Last weekend I decided that living in fear is only going to make my day worse, instead, I told myself that if I continue to move forward with all tools in hand, I have a better chance of getting to spring less torn up than earlier years, and that my friends is progress.
So as the winter comes, bring in the light, and allow it to cover your from head to toe! You will find me, sitting under mine.
“Whatever you are physically…male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy–all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside.”
― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel