"SAD", and that lost feeling...
I’m one of those people who suffers from “seasonal affective disorder”. It can be a real depressing time, when you have to go through this, and for those who do not suffer from this, you may not understand why or what it is…
How does it start for me?
“SAD” seems to start for me around the beginning of Fall. I’m a summer person, enjoy doing things outside, and have a low tolerance to cold weather. So, when temperatures begin to drop, and the sun setts quicker, I have a difficult time, because for me, it seems like I’m going to be trapped for six months.
Especially when it begins to snow, and I’m left with added chores of cleaning up the driveway, sidewalk, and adding about three layers of clothing to stay warm while doing so.
The feeling of being locked up from October to the end of April, (growing up in Western New York), often left me with little to do, but come home from work, eat dinner, complain to my wife, and watch TV.
This may work for some of you, but it never worked for me. Usually, because I’ve worked retail for the past 15 years, I could get excited about helping my customer’s through the Christmas season. That was a good substitute for the dark evenings, cold weather and such.
Bye the time New Years Day rolled around, I was ready to get back outside, and ride my motorcycle. Not something you will do in Western NY though.
With Every New Year, Came New Depression!
Let me clarify, I really didn’t suffer from great bouts of depression. I didn’t need medication, and it didn’t bother me mentally. Except for the feeling of being stuck in a house, or at work, or driving through the snow covered roads that were always slippery.
Every day, I would sit in my car, wondering why I had to live like this, and I hated every minute of it. Not being a winter adventurer like some of my friends, I found myself not even wanted to venture out to go to dinner, meet for drinks or even just try to have fun. It was much easier to stay home, sit on the couch and do nothing. This, is not good…
Getting ready for the change
Finding yourself in this rut, and knowing it is going to take a long time to get back to your normal jovial self, is depressing all by itself. I used to think that no one wanted to hang out, because I just wasn’t good in the dark weather. I knew it, and I let myself be controlled by it.
I did find solace in the fact that my wife’s sister suffered similar effects as me. She was even more depressed during these times, because the sun set at 4:40 pm, and she could not drive in the dark, keeping her even more trapped than I was.
So, I knew that it was time for me to start making changes. I love sunshine, being outside, long days, long walks and things like that…
Time to make a change.
Can't move? Lighten things up!
After some 30 years of hating short days, long nights and sitting my butt on the couch, it was time to get serious.
I’m self employed, so moving is not going to be much of an option.
I purchased a couple of those Seasonal Affective lights, and placed them around the house… I’m sure my wife hated them, but she was able to tolerate me and they did help. No, they are not going to make the sunshine bounce off the wall, but they add a bit of nature color lighting to a room when even at 1:00 pm, its dark and snowing out.
Start taking care of yourself!
I started to do more around the house to keep myself fit and ready for sprint.
I found that spending the money, and time to invest in an exercise bike helped me a lot. I could sit and listen to an audio book for about 40 minutes to an hour, ride the bike and get my mind off of the boredom and depression for the evening.
I couldn’t do it every day, but I could work out for several hours and keep myself occupied and getting into better shape. While it may take your mind off the darkness, you still have to find ways to fight the feeling no matter what.
Suppliments and Vitamins!
My wife is a health nut. She is always trying to get me to take vitamins, eat better and take suppliments to help keep me healthy.
Sure, being a typical guy, I fight that stuff, but she was right. Making sure that I found the right stuff to help me feel better physically, was one of the keys, and overlooking the fact that these things work, well, I was loosing that battle.
With her help, I was able make a list of things that really worked for me. No, I’m not a pill popper by nature. I don’t use medicine, even to this day, well into my 50s.
Learning to live a bit healthier and trusting in something new really did make a change. My physical well being, along with a changed state of mind made me feel better about getting through to the spring, and into summer. Making those short days, long nights, and cold weather a bit more bearable until the summer solstice!
For those of us who suffer from this, “Seasonal Depression”… We have to remember that we have options. It isn’t enough to force yourself to do things outside, in the dark, because that doesn’t work.
Waiting for Spring to get here can seem like a lifetime, and that doesn’t work either.
However, with a bit of work on your part, changing your lifestyle, getting a bit healthier, you may, like me, find yourself being able to “Get Through It” just a touch easier.
I envy those people who can afford two homes, and leave the north, and go south for four or six months. They have the best of both worlds. Not all of us, however, can afford to do that, and we are left with much different options.
What are some other things you can do?
Hey, plan vacations. Make sure you get out of the dark, cold, depressing and boring world you may live in, and head south to a beach, or travel to a location where you can enjoy the outside, soak in the sun, and balance your soul.
Make sure you have friends to hang out with. You may have to force yourself to get together because of how you feel, but, you’ll always feel better.
Get yourself a sun-lamp and enjoy a book while basking in the corner of a room.
Invite Family and Friends over to do things fun and exciting. Trust me, that works well.
And, if you can stand the cold, snow and chill of winter for just one day a month, plan something fun outdoors and push yourself to get through it. Hey, you might just enjoy it more than you think.