Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm S.A.D.

Years ago, an astute psychologist noticed a trend: I would call him around the end of October/early November because I was feeling very depressed, then would end our sessions around April because I was feeling fine again. After a few years of this, he decided that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a mood disorder where people who feel fine in the spring/summer experience depression in the fall/winter. It is suspected that light, or lack of light, is the culprit. As a result, I now use a Light Box about this time of year (see picture) to compensate for the lack of light outside. Light therapy helps a little, but I'm still struggling right now.

Yes, this is real. I recommend that you visit the Mayo Clinic's web site on the subject if you think I'm nuts.

In addition, the majority of Multiple Sclerosis patients develop depression. At a recent lecture, one doctor reported that it is believed to be caused by the physical changes happening in our brains, in addition to the situational stress of having a chronic illness. So add that to my SAD and this is NOT the "most wonderful time of the year." I am feeling low and miserable and depressed, but am constantly bombarded with people telling me to "be of good cheer." To which I silently mutter, "bite me!"

One problem I experience with this chronic illness is that I get fatigued from too much stimulation. So being around lots of people who are talking and laughing is difficult for me. I get exhausted when I'm in a room with more than 3-4 people. I get exhausted when exposed to a lot of noise. I'm exhausted after shopping or after driving long distances. Yet with the holidays, I have to shop, go visiting, drive in heavy traffic, and be jolly and happy and joyful. To which I silently mutter, "bite me!"

It is unfortunate that at this time of year when I am physically down, I am expected to be "up" and happy. I need to move to Australia in the winter so that I can actually enjoy the Christmas season. It's summertime there. Sun. Sun. Sun. Ho! Ho! Ho!


  1. Joan, amen!!!!

    I very strongly dislike the noise and the "joy" and the constant go-go-go. Fortunately, my family here (including my Sweetie) knows that I do NOT derive enjoyment from the busting festivities.

    Bah-hum-bug. But your "bite me" is much more expressive. :)

  2. Christmas in July, okay? Please tell your relatives this.

    I'm hoping that the light box helps you a little bit.


  3. Joan,
    I know it's real as I see many people go through this.
    Noise and crowds bother me as well, sucking the energy from me. At work related functions I try to find a quiet place to get away for a couple of minutes.
    My worst months are November and March. November because of the rain (usually) and March because it's so darn long and I'm anxious for spring.


  4. Joan,

    My step-mother has plodded along with SAD for a long time. She figured out about the "too many people" feeling about 5 years ago and stopped hosting her annual Christmas Eve party - that helped her alot. Now, she and I would usually hurt a couple of bottles of wine on the Eve or right after together... She said her 1 on 1 quality times helped her through this time... But, she also resorts to bite-me when she needs to and that helps her ALOT!!

  5. This WILL sound strange, but you cannot know how absolutely uplifting reading your words, "Bite Me!" made me feel just now...because I don't feel like I have the strength to utter the words myself.

    Thank you...

    Linda D. in Seattle

    (OMG! The word verification below is "eyoer"!!! Is that pronounced, "EE OR"?!?!)

  6. My colleague has S.A.D. too. I also notice that the darkness and weather changes get me down as do all the social obligations this time of year. I get what you are saying about needing to act jolly. Sometimes it seems like such a strain. I find that singing helps me feel better sometimes.

  7. Joan, just for you from me, hun....



  8. I've had SAD for as long as I can remember. It is why I moved south to TN from PA. And really down here the winters are like 2 months shorter and the skies MUCH less gray during those 2 months. But, it's give and take...our summers are also a bit hotter and longer.

    I have one of those lamps as well but I've not used it yet. I tried and it is just SO SO bright! And for me if it's not the real deal, I don't think I want it.

    I empathize with you. Pop some pills and have a drink! LOL ... ah if it were only that easy!