Spring, that is. I am almost afraid to utter those words. So afraid to scare her.
I have not really talked on the blog about how much this winter sucked. How much the weather has affected me this year. But it did. It sucked so very much.
I have been the person in the past who told others that it’s silly to let weather affect you. You can’t control it, after all. And if something is entirely out of your control, what good is it to become upset about it? Raining or not, chances are you have to go to work, see your doctor, do grocery shopping.
Yet here I was, in my little cozy condo, working all day, and with zero desire or energy to be anywhere else, only coming out to drive to the gym. Dragging my feet – that’s what I’ve been doing.
While I am hesitant to self-diagnose, the symptoms of decreased energy, negative mood, carb cravings, sleeping more than usual, difficulty concentrating in the winter can all point to SAD (seasonal affective disorder). It is no longer recognized by the DSM-V as an independent psychological disorder, but can currently be diagnosed as major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern.
However, many people (esp. women) who have normal mental health throughout the year can exhibit depressive symptoms during one specific season (usually winter). The condition seems to be related to lower incidence of sunlight – e.g. research supports significantly lower incidence of SAD in sunnier states.
It is often not until we get something back, we realize how much we missed it. I was giddy to arrive to sunny Vancouver after cold Toronto and snowy Calgary. I teared up in the car on the weekend, driving, as the sun shone on my face. I am finally coming alive.
“I feel I’ve been living in a bear suit”, a client says, also suffering from winter blues. “It’s like I’m waiting for spring to shed this skin, and finally come out”.
I feel like I have not been touched by sun in months, years. The first inkling of how much it mattered was in Dominican Republic in January. I felt energetic and alive. Happy to work away on my laptop on a balcony overlooking palm trees, and with coffee in hand. I didn’t need a vacation. I needed sun.
A friend shared an amazing video recently, “Depression is a disease of civilization”. It’s a talk by Stephen Illardi, a clinical psychologist who spent decades studying depression. It gave me goosebumps. It also made me think.
COULD I HAVE DONE ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS TO ALLEVIATE THE DARKNESS?
- I did not stop training. This was by far my saving grace.
- Thinking back, I wish I never stopped taking fish oil. It was one of those things that just fell away. Noted for next year.
- I wish I got a bit more sun, whether it was in a tanning bed or not. Just once a week, maybe? Twice a month?
- I’d schedule more touch time. This hugger needs to hug people.
And life without sunshine is like life without hugs – almost not worth living.
Out of my bear suit,