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SAD- Part 1

December 18, 2006

Every since the whirlwind writing fest of November, I haven’t really been up for a “real” blog. I’ve been posting a lot of fluff, (when I post), and I apologize to any regular readers that might be cruising around in cyber space. I suppose there have been other reasons besides NaNo, but that’s all a bit boring.

So to catch up, I hope to be posting some pictures soon, (as soon as I can get them from Nathalie’s camera. Because pictures make a blog site so much more dynamic and interesting, and I love to share my photos.

I’ve been toying with the idea of making this blog a themed blog for “New York experiences”. Adam, a blogger whose site I frequent quite often, has done this with his blog (for the most part), giving it a themed feel. Most of the themed blogs I read are better than the random ones. But I haven’t made a hard core decision yet, and don’t expect to until after New Years.

Anyway…

Of all the posts that have been floating around my head, I guess the one that I most want to blog on is my S.A.D. (ironic, those initials), or seasonal affective disorder. I really want to blog about it as a means of self-therapy more than anything. A means of working through this intellectually, since it’s impossible to work through it emotionally. Maybe in writing facts down here, I can better understand the progression of the disorder as I go through this winter.

SAD is something that has come on worse and worse each year for me. It wasn’t something I suddenly woke up with. The first few winters in Montreal I can’t say that I had it. Sure I had winter blues, but that isn’t the same thing. Trust me. I don’t think I really experienced SAD until my last winter in Montreal. But at the time, I didn’t understand that was what it was. I just assumed it was really bad winter blues brought on by a worsening financial situation, among other things. Then I moved to Texas for a winter. Things were fine there. And I was going through a much more traumatic time in my life.

It was last winter that I will never forget. They say that hindsight is 20/20 and that is probably always the case for depression of any sort. Last winter was very, very bad. I was depressed, thoroughly. But I couldn’t understand why at the time. And I hid it from my roommates. They thought I was crazy, and a bitch. In some ways I was. I was awful to them. I would scream, throw fits, think about harming myself for no reason, sleep a lot, and I gained another six pounds quickly.  I rarely went out, and most importantly, I lied to myself about how bad it was.

Then around the beginning of March, I did a 180. I was crazy, going out three to four times a week, doing certain illegal activities, shopping, dropped 10 pounds in two weeks, etc. Nothing my room mates did would upset me, except wanting to stay in for the night. I attributed it to meeting a guy at the time. But he ended very quickly, and I mourned all of about five minutes before I moved on. Hmmm…sounds like a little thing we call mania.

Yeah, I put it all together around May, when I had a conversation about SAD. But it wasn’t until August that I did some research on it. Turns out 80% of sufferers are female in their mid- late 20’s or early 30’s, and a huge majority are women who have moved from the south to the north. Sound like someone you know? Incidentally, mania is not very common, and only extreme forms of SAD incur mania in the spring.

It doesn’t matter how cold it is. SAD has more to do with the latitude. There are a number of means of controlling it, short of going on an anti-depressant, which I refuse to do, (not for something that only affects me 4 months out of the year).

I talked to my doctor about it. She has it, and like me is interested in alternative medicine. (I was lucky to find her; she has studied alternative medicine extensively). She recommended an herbal and vitamin cocktail that I jokingly refer to as my “happy pills”. The “happy cocktail” consists of St. Johns Wort, lots of Omega-3’s, and Vitamin B Complex. But light therapy, or phototherapy, is the most effective means of controlling SAD. Luckily for me I work for a lighting company, so a colleague said he would help me construct a box.

I was taking the cocktail religiously, and I felt amazing. I was also going to the gym a lot. But with a vacation, a couple of guests, and less money to replenish said herbs, I went off the pills for about a week, and stopped going to the gym. By the end of the week, I felt completely depressed, and irritable. I was shocked at how well the pills were working, and have gone back on them. I now have much more sympathy for a person who has bi-polar or any other long term depression. I understand why they stop taking their medicine. Although, my condition is not as serious as theirs, I have become extremely sympathetic with anyone who sees no end in sight to their own depression. I take comfort in knowing that if I can make it to April, I’ll be fine, at least until October.

In conclusion, I am hoping that this year is better, because I can’t live with this guaranteed depression every year. I will move before I let my life get to be like that. I don’t even want to experience the mania. Right now, it is something that I am struggling with on a daily basis in some form or another, and I find the fight is getting harder the further along in the winter we get. Right after Christmas until the end of January is when it’s the worst. But I’m hoping that by being honest with myself, (and, indeed, open about it, with others), that I will force myself to continually seek healthy treatment for it, until April.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2006 12:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. You are brave, and I admire your honesty. I have never experienced SAD, but I do have clinical depression and have been on antidepressants and in counseling off and on for years. Recently I have begun taking a high dosage of Omega 3s, after reading some exciting research on their affect on depression and other mental disorders. I’m also taking B6 daily. Anyway, I just wanted to acknowledge what you shared, and to say that I hope this winter is better for you than previous winters. That sounds so cheap and easy to say, but I do mean it.

  2. December 20, 2006 3:06 pm

    You’ve told me about this before, but either you didn’t mention or I’ve forgotten that it (mainly) affected such a specific group of people. I’m glad you’ve found a remedy that works (happy pills =), and I’m sure that being open about it can only help.

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