So the truth is this...I think I am SAD....other wise know as suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. I try to find joy in the overcast snowy filled season but I don't have a chalet in ski town and I'm pretty sure if I did I would end up sleeping the day away in the chalet. Winter makes me want to sleep, winter makes me want to cry and I count down the days till I see the peek-a-boo of my crocuses and the green of the grass again. So...what to do...If I was a bear I would have it easy, I would curl up in my bear cave and not show my grumpy bear face for the duration of winter...but I'm not a bear...I'm a working mommy and wife and friend and "the show must go on."
How do I find solace in time when all of my fundamentals of joy and peace go out the winter?(lol, that's funny, but i meant to say window) How do I tell the difference between a bad week and true depression? I've been struggling with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) for a large part of my life and I can feel it coming on like the weight of 30 pounds of snow on my chest. Usually it arrives Mid January, Christmas has long sailed away, the hope of a New Years resolution has long sailed away, and I'm left here on the shore of my life. I can only explain it like suddenly life has this foggy dark filter through which I see everything. I see the smile in my children's faces, in the midst of what is supposed to be a "fun" girls night out, in the middle of a warm consolling hug from my husband...the dark cloud covers it all.
I get angry and I fight it some days but I find it makes it worse, other days I am caring to myself and I allow myself to sleep and mope and eat comfort foods like the oat bar they have at starbucks that is chewy and carb-filled and tastes like an oatmeal cookie only better. I start the day with a fresh outlook most days, I say to myself, "okay, today is going to be better..." I eat a healthy breakfast, write in my journal and remind myself that I have SO much to be grateful for. The day carries on and gets darker and darker and by dinner hour when all daylight has said good-bye, I feel this sense of dread.
So how do you know if you too are SAD? Here are the criteria:
1. Depression that starts and stops suddenly at regular times of the year
2. Eating more than usual
3. Craving carbohydrates and sweets
4. Weight gain as a result of satisfying these cravings
5. Extreme tiredness
6. Sleeping more than usual
7. Lack of energy and loss of interest in activities
8. Sleep disturbance
9. Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
10. Cognitive problems; difficulty concentrating and making decisions. Tasks you previously found simple now seem complicated
11. Drinking more alcohol than usual
12. Drinking more coffee and tea than usual
13. Anxiety, tension, and low tolerance of stress
16. Social withdrawal
17. Blaming others or circumstances
18. Wanting to stay at home rather than go out
19. Loss of libido
20. Menstrual problems. Premenstrual tension may be worse than usual, with attendant irritability, sleep problems, appetite changes, and low energy levels
21. Low body temperature
My emotional wellness has been something that I have strived to better and I take care of always, so it frustrates me when suddenly it feels out of my control. I have doubled up on vitamin D, soaked up any ray of sun I can (including from this light therapy light we have here that is made specifically for SAD) and brought a taste of spring home from the grocery store in the form of fresh flowers. I haven't resigned to it and someday I hope to get through an entire winter season without getting here again. Until then, I will meditate upon these daisies I brought home.