I have a SAD

Everyone feels depressed once in a while. Maybe I do more than most people, but usually it is easy for me to explain. Not this time. This time I’ve been struggling to keep the tears away, to stay focused at work, and to do some things that I would normally love to do. But I didn’t know why, and that was only making it worse.

Sunday morning while I was driving to my mom’s house in Everett, the sky turned so dark from the clouds that it looked like dusk. For a moment I thought I’d lost all track of time and what I was doing, and then I remembered that I live in the North West.

That is the beginning of the train of thought that reminded me that I’ve had problems with SAD before.

SAD, explained with a graph.
(From amazon.com. Clicking will take you to a product page. Because I’d rather give them free advertising than plagiarize.)

For those who may not know what SAD is: SAD is an acronym for seasonal affective disorder. It is a form of depression that is typically tied to the lack of sunshine in winter months (although it can be the opposite as well). In addition to what you would typically do to fight depression, SAD can be treated by getting more natural or artificial sunlight and taking vitamin D.

It is a relatively common problem in the northwest because of the short days (sunrise around 8:00 AM and sunset around 4:00 PM in the winter) and the often overcast weather. For most people it is just annoying, but for some of us it can be debilitating.

My SAD is far worse this year than what I remember from years past. I suspect that there are two main reasons that it is worse this year: First, October, November, and early December were exceptionally stressful for me (particularly at work).

Second, I spent a lot of time in the sun this past summer between fantastic weather in Washington (home) and Maryland (where I was traveling for work), spending quite a bit of time outside when I wasn’t working, and having a desk with natural light all summer. In late October, I moved to an office on the interior of the building at work and have very little natural light. I get to work before sunrise and usually leave after dark. The only natural light I have been getting is the 10-15 minutes that I go out to get lunch most days.

While I was visiting family on Sunday, I spent some time with my brother’s Happy Light. It is probably just my imagination, but it seems to have made a difference already. I ordered myself a different brand of light therapy box, and I am hopeful that it will help.

That is just the start. Hubby and I are talking about it more, and I need to make sure that I am doing things that actually feel productive (like crocheting and spending time with friends, instead of spending all weekend playing video games).

This post is a bit more personal than what I’d normally post here. I decided to share for a bunch of reasons. At the core is that I’ve realized in the past year (probably in large part to reading Jenny Lawson’s blog and book) how important it is to let your friends and family know when you’re having depression issues.

If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. Ask for help.

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