As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s one of those conditions that some people still insist doesn’t actually exist, or they suggest that “everyone feels a little down in the winter.”
That may be true, but “a little down” and “depressed” are as different as “a little sore” and “compound fracture.”
There are definite correlations between sun intake and various neurochemicals. I have learned, in the years that I’ve been trying to treat this, that artificial sunlight works well for me; I do a light therapy through the winter. When I don’t do it, my winters are particularly rough; when I do it, they can still be difficult, but they’re much easier to survive. Frankly, if it’s a placebo, it’s a darn good one and I’m going to stick with it.
I also take vitamin D, which has seemed to provide some amazing help as well.
Last winter, when my daughter was suddenly coming five weeks early, I didn’t do my light therapy for the rest of the winter (partially because I had no idea when I was going to be awake and how much time I would have to do it), and I did okay. Of course, finally having the child I had prayed for (for ten years) probably helped, but I was a bit surprised that the natural exhaustion didn’t seem to make things worse.
This year has been weirder, though. I’ve had sudden bouts of depressive episodes that have sneaked up on me and nearly flattened me with their intensity. I’m pretty sure that these are not technically depression, because they don’t last. I get anxious and panicky, and then it gives way to being convinced that I am horrible at everything that I try to do. Everything. They are usually spawned by work stress, of which there has been a great deal lately, but they end with me being convinced that I am a terrible father and a worse husband. I become convinced that everyone is disappointed in me — employers, friends, parents, wife, random people… maybe not Sage, but only because she doesn’t understand enough yet, and it’s just a matter of time before she’s disappointed too.
However, these bursts only last for fifteen or twenty minutes, and then I go back to being okay. Not in a good mood; not even to the point where I’m not sad… but okay. Those of you who have dealt with depression understand what I mean. I’m still pretty down, maybe even miserable — but I can function when the burst passes.
I’ve never quite dealt with this before, and I’m not sure exactly how to address it.
I don’t have a major reason for writing this post, other than to share my experience. Maybe somebody else is going through something similar and can help me, or maybe just reading this will help them. I just don’t believe that discussing depression should be taboo. It’s an illness, and it’s very real. If we can talk about it, maybe we can take away some of the shame that seems to come with it, and maybe we can get some people who don’t deal with it to think about it a bit more, and hopefully they’ll understand it a little bit better.
That’s it. No closing. Nothing pithy here. Just… just expressing it.