Sadder than SAD

I’m sad.  With a capital S-A-D.  As in Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The cynical part of me is sneering right now. “Don’t tell me you’re buying in to that disease of the day crap,” it’s saying.

My conscience is scolding me.  “Get off your duff and do something productive.  That’ll cure your sadness.”

My left brain is advising me.  “If you’re really worried about this, investigate ways to get some light into your life.”

But my right brain seems to be winning out over all these other voices.  “Go back to bed with a heating pad, blanket, and book.  Take two dogs for company.  Drink hot cocoa and come out in May.”

I’m tempted to scoff at SAD, but I think I’ve fallen victim to it this winter.  It’s one of the darkest winters on record, and I haven’t seen the sun here in nigh on two weeks.  We’ve had some amount of snow every day this week.  The other day I cried half the way to work.  Right now, I’m summoning up all my strength to get out of the house and go to the library, a place I usually need no encouragement to go.

Last night I was talking to a friend of mine, one of the most practical, down to earth women I know.  She always amazes me with her vigor and physical strength.  “I haven’t been out of my room all week,” she told me last night.  “I haven’t even washed the dishes since Sunday.”

“What’s the matter?” I asked, aghast.

“It’s SAD,” she replied matter of factly.  “This is the worst winter I can remember.”

“What can you do about it?” I inquired.

“Wait until spring, I guess.”

My left brain doesn’t want to accept that answer.  It sends me directly to my favorite on line medical site, who concurs with my own opinion.

Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own — you may have seasonal affective disorder. Treatment for seasonal affective disorder includes light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications.

Apparently you can go out and buy ultraviolet light to enjoy in the privacy of your own home.  Imagine that…all it takes is money, and you can have a little sunshine any time of the day or night.

Of course, this is when I start to think about my house in Florida – the Sunshine State, right? – that’s sitting there empty and waiting for me.  It’s such an obvious solution, but one that eludes me year after year.  Next year, I tell myself every winter, a refrain that echoes the sentiment expressed by Jews the world over – “Next year in Jerusalem.”

It seems to be my own version of The Impossible Dream.

And that makes me sadder than anything.

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12 thoughts on “Sadder than SAD

  1. I suffer greatly from this disorder and have all of my life. Right now in Illinois we’ve had little sunshine but more than in Michigan. When the sun comes out I’m a different person. I feel energized and hopeful. Right now, I feel like crawling into bed and not coming out until I see the first Robin. The first thing I do in the AM is turn on as many lights as I can – that helps some, but until Old Man Winter is gone – we just have to endure.
    That’s why when I retire in about 1 1/2 years, my husband and I are heading to someplace sunny for three months. By the time March is over, the days are longer and the sunshine is more prevalent. I am looking forward to becoming a snowbird.

    • The sun is out today (thank God!) and I feel SO much better. Have been out walking in the snow and feel 10 times happier 🙂
      I’m counting the days until you can retire and have your sunny winters 🙂

  2. This is truly a disease and I suffered from it badly when I lived in Vermont. It is not a hoax. Now that I live in Virginia, I don’t go through it. The lamps work for a lot of people. I say also get outside as much as possible even when it’s gray! It helps! Good luck.

  3. Becca,
    I have a little blue light box that I have programmed for a thirty minute stint every morning. After getting out of bed, I move directly into my big red chair, click on the heating pad, turn on the happy light, and write in my journal while I wait for my husband to deliver my cappuccino (that alone is a happy thing 🙂
    It certainly seems to have helped me. It’s dark and grey here in BC as well, and the last two winters have seen me a lot less ‘blue’ since I plugged this thing in.
    The other part of my anti-SAD campaign is to get outside and walk every day, no matter what the weather is doing. The first times are hard but, especially if you have someone to partner with, it really makes a difference.
    Of course, an even better solution would be to have a house in Florida! But I understand how it’s not always easy to get there.
    These two things have really helped me, hope it’s helpful information. Best of luck.

    • Thank you ever so much, Colleen. It’s good to hear a testimonial that the light boxes really do work, and aren’t just a hoax!

      I do walk whenever I can, and try to exercise every day if I can’t get outside. It helps to be outdoors, and it also makes the dogs extremely happy, so I do two good deeds in one!

  4. My daughter-in-law is affected by SAD. A few days ago she expressed all the things you written here. She feels like she should just dust herself off and go forward. I told her it’s very real and she shouldn’t be so hard on herself. They’re in Chicago now and will be moving to Wisconsin in the spring. I’ll mention the light again.

    • More and more people are affected by it, I think. The other day, I read a slightly different viewpoint on light, which holds that we’re exposed to too much artificial light in the evening hours and that’s also bad for our health.

      My daughter in law, who was raised in the tropics, has a terrible time with cold and darkness. She would not do well in the midwest, that’s for sure.

  5. I’m with you. I used to scoff at SAD — or at least think “that’s not why I get so down” — but every winter I drag and drag. Hate going to work in the almost-dark and leaving for home in the almost-dark too. I know — it’ll pass. But not soon enough.

  6. I, too, use a light box and it has made a world of difference in the way I feel. I turn it on first thing in the morning, and read my way through my favorite blogs. I can highly recommend trying it. The light box I have was found on amazon.com, and was under $60, so not a huge investment…but huge dividends.

  7. My dad hates Winter in Chicago, hence the birthday celebration in Naples. While I do love Florida in January, and can commiserate with your discouragement over not enough light, I also love Winter so very much. Does it help to look at sparkly snow? If you’re my dad, not so much. Spring will be coming. (If you want to talk about what I hate it’s humidity in Chicago in August! 😉

  8. I’ve always struggled with winter, really hitting my low in February and March. I know spring is just around the corner, but I just miss daylight and sunshine. I’m intrigued by these lightboxes – could be a good way to start the day. Or maybe I’ll put it by my desk at work? Either way, I’m off to see if I can find one that I can afford. And here’s to hoping spring comes early!

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