SAD

I admit to moodiness.

I admit to a bout of the blues this week.

I admit, I’m feeling sad.

I also recognize that I’m sleep deprived, in recovery mode from Kid Overload and Post-Holiday Happenings, and I’m in serious need of a dose of sunshine.

It’s January. It’s cold and gray and I’m not at my best in the cold or gray – unless of course it’s Paris.

And trust me, I’m not in Paris.

Besides. I have things on my mind. Hard things. Complicated things. I’d like to curl up and hibernate, but that isn’t an option. I believe we refer to that little reality as Adulthood, and yes, with a capital A.

I’m more sluggish this time of year, and I know it. I’ve also been heads down with nose to the grindstone every possible hour of late, huddled over my laptop reading and writing and researching for much of the day. I’m less than consistent in kicking my butt out the door, hitting the sidewalk for a 20-minute trot, and most particularly – benefiting from whatever natural light I can.

And speaking of light…

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder is not something I thought about when I lived in the Cold Cold Northeast more than 20 years ago. The Winter Blues is not what I blamed when, by mid-March, I felt as though everything was crushing me, each hour of the day squeezing the life out of me, every effort to remain energized – futile and exhausting.

I suffered from Depression. Big Bad Depression. And almost on schedule.

Most years, I scraped together my pennies and sent myself off to a beach in Florida – to rest, to swim, to read in the sunshine. All it took was a week, typically alone, and I felt the renewing benefits of a seasonal break.

It was many years later that I learned of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and wondered if I suffered from it, at least to some degree. I rarely spoke of my depression during those years – the stigma of sadness was well entrenched, and I daresay it still is. But, since moving to a region with a shorter winter, I’ve noticed a marked difference in the annual struggle with disappearing down down down into the darkness of the Rabbit Hole.

Moody Blues

Frankly, the annual depression all but disappeared, yet occasionally, when combined with other worries and wounds, I feel tied to the color of the skies (or lack thereof), to the chill that renders my heart more brittle (and breakable), and to the quality of the light.

This sadness?

Some of it is emotional. Life rarely leaves us with nothing to process as we unwittingly dip into corners of memory, as we come to accept new aspects of ourselves, as we face growing into and away from people we love.

As we recognize and re-prioritize our own needs.

Some of the problem is physical.

I need to listen to my body. I’ve improved my ability to provide what is necessary, but I still have a long way to go in accepting that the balance of sleep, nutrition, exercise, and managed stress is critical to feeling well.

Break Dance, Anyone?

What else?

Fresh air. Natural light. A real break. Especially after weeks of a houseful of kids on their break!

The winter is long – longer for some of us than others – and depression, perhaps kicked into gear by snow or drizzle or gray skies.

And no, it’s not the fact that my boys left and the sink is still stacked with their dirty dishes. It’s not the bills on the table in my den or the laundry heaped in the basket. I’m grateful for the quiet. I’m breathing more deeply in this much needed silence. But I feel off, I feel sad, I feel distant from some part of myself. And I wonder if I could resurrect my vitality and focus with something as simple as a few days of walking under a brilliant sun.

  • Are you subject to the winter blues?
  • Are you more easily depressed at certain times of year?
  • Does everything feel heavier and harder when you’re sleep-deprived?
  • When’s the last time you ran off to a beach (or the mountains if you prefer) – just for yourself, to feel “whole” again?




© D. A. Wolf

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Comments

  1. Running out to pick up the eldest from school so just a quick response:

    My nadir is February. Every year. (11 days to go…) :)

  2. Winter blues is a common thing where I come from, grey skies and reduced hours of sunshine are bad for the mood. Ideally, a week in the US Southwest is just the cure with the desert landscapes, dry climate, sunshine and great food/drink but that isn’t something I can count on each year. For me, I find maintaining my vitamin D levels is important during the winter; recall that vitamin D is produced in your skin when it is exposed to sunshine and outside the equatorial latitudes, most people can’t produce enough vitamin D during the winter (and very few foods contain enough vitamin D). The nice thing is that vitamin D levels are easy to check for your doctor (25 OHD blood test) and easy to boost with D3 vitamins if there is a deficiency.

  3. I agree with Kristen. February is the LONGEST month.

    I definitely suffer from SAD. I was fine in CA and in DC I have to fight the blues from Jan to April. Blah blah blah.

    However, it’s a good opportunity for me to be curious about sadness and depression, etc. and what makes me happy if I can get myself to look at the bright side.

    May the force be with you sister – you aren’t alone in the winter blahs!! xoxo

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Staring at a swollen, dismal gray sky as we speak… and thinking of you as well… not to mention the excellent suggestion from batticus to consider some Vitamin D!

  4. …sometimes I read your posts and I think you’re reading my thoughts. :)

  5. Sometimes you just have to let yourself feel the sadness and realize it is passing; “this too shall pass”. KNOWING this will makes it easier.
    A good nap and a movie always helps me. Also a grateful list, 5 items every evening before bed :)
    Bon Courage.

  6. Years ago when I lived back east, February got me every year. I called it “cabin fever” in those days, the strong desire to get out of the house, be outside, do something! It’s not so bad now, although when spring has not gotten here by April (which is not unusual in this area) I get irritable and antsy. I bought a “sunshine lamp” for my favorite chair, and I think it helps to sit under it when I read, knit, watch TV. As far as needing my “coast fix”, it’s been over a year now and I’m ready, but I don’t know if we’ll be able to do that this sometime this year or not.

  7. Yep. February is the worst for me. ((you))

  8. In AZ, I suffer from SAD when the weather turns particularly gloomy. It’s usually year long sunshine here and when the weather deviates my mood becomes a little more sullen. February and March are generally long months for me. Hope you feel better soon.

  9. I never particularly noticed feeling down in winter until I moved to Britain. Then I learned to be grateful for daylight, never mind sunshine. I went to work in the dark and came home in the dark. By late February the first winter I was ready to walk out and get on the next plane back to the US (I had a psychotic bully for a boss, and that was part of the problem as well). Instead I was sent to the tourist agencies in town for an emergency holiday. I ended up on Gran Canaria for a week and for all the remaining years of work I tended to escape sometime in Jan-Feb-Mar to someplace sunny and warm just in case summer never came to Britain that year.

    Now that I’m retired, I try to make sure I go for a walk around noon or so to get some daylight before it disappears altogether. There is a reason why the pagans celebrated the shortest day…because it was all going to turn around from then!

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