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!

8 comments:

  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. :)

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

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

    Jen

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  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.

    S.

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  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!!

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  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"?!?!)

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  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.

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

    (((((((((((((JOAN))))))))))))))))


    Taggie

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  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!

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