Monday, February 6, 2012

anybody else SAD?

After re-reading my last post about my emotional state, I started to wonder if people perhaps thought I was over-doing it. Not based on anybody's feedback or anything (any responses have been very supportive and encouraging), but I just catch myself wondering if deep down people are thinking things like, "What's the big deal? So your kids were sick - it happens." Or "So you had to start a new job, at least it's only 2 days a week." Or "I single parent all the time, you're lucky your husband is at least home on weekends for the most part." Or "It's winter. Everyone feels this way this time of year." Or "Try living MY life for a week and you'll really have something to cry about!"

I was starting to think that perhaps people thought I was some sort of a quack; that I was using depression as an excuse when things got a bit rough. That really, that's how everybody feels and I just need to buck up!

And then I read an article in my new Chatelaine magazine. It was entitled "Winter got you down?" (written by Stacy Lee Kong) and it was about a young woman who suffers from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). In the article she gave an example of how "one day last fall, Laura learned she'd have to go into work for a few hours on her day off. "I bawled for hours over something so simple," she says. "There was this voice in the back of my mind saying, 'Why are you being so ridiculous? This isn't a big deal.' But even a little thing like that can make it seem like the worst day ever." "

Man, she hit the nail right smack dab on the head. A sick child one day may seem like no big deal to someone else. Other people might have no problems switching part-time jobs - in fact, they might even thrive on the change. And some people soar through winter without so much as a yawn.

But to those who suffer from SAD - or any other form of depression/anxiety - those things others consider to be small can seem almost insurmountable.

Here's another excerpt from the article which explains the differences between SAD and winter blues:

"It's common to confuse SAD with a bout of the February blahs, but they're actually very different. Having the blahs means you're occasionally bummed about the early sunsets and bone-chilling temperatures. And you might be more into naps and carbs than you would be during the summer, but your general disposition and energy levels don't change.

SAD symptoms, on the other hand, are more serious and can persist to the point where they affect your work and relationships.

"There were days when I just couldn't get out of bed; I felt so sensitive and fragile," {Laura} says. "

I learned some interesting facts about SAD throughout this article. One is that females are eight times more likely to have it than males. It's also more likely to occur between the ages of 15-55 and to those who live in a northern country. That last one makes good sense, as us northerners have colder weather, shorter days and less sunlight.

Luckily this article also provided some ways to help get through SAD, including light therapy, natural sunlight, diet & exercise changes and of course anti-depressants if needed. Here are also a few quick-fixes for anyone who's having a bad day, regardless of their emotional diagnosis:

Eat Right - opt for food rich in Vitamin B6 (things like bananas, spinach, chicken and fish) and don't skip complex carbs such as whole grains - they have mood-boosting benefits!

Sleep Well - If only this was entirely in my own control!!

Sniff Citrus - This was an interesting one to me. Apparently there is a link between smelling lemon oil and an enhanced positive mood! Also, the scent of orange apparently reduces anxiety and improves your mood. Who knew?!

Fake it - This one basically suggests that putting a smile on your face, whether you feel like it or not, can actually lead to the real thing! It's worth a shot, right?

So - do YOU have SAD? Here are some things to look out for as indicators (especially if you fit in some of the other categories - gender, age, and location):

* Your energy levels plummet and you feel like you can't get out of bed
* You lose interest in seeing friends and family
* You find yourself crying over the slightest thing (you know, like spilled milk!) and can't figure out why
* You can't shake feeling depressed, tired and anxious most of the time
* You feel miraculously back to your old self when the days start getting longer

Uh...check! check! check!

Now, I'm not self-diagnosing myself with SAD specifically. I do know that I suffer from depression & anxiety, whatever title it may have. And while I definitely feel love and support from my family and friends when I hit a rough patch, it was just really comforting to have found this article last night and read about someone else who really gets what it's like. Who knows that while other people might think it's ridiculous to cry for hours over getting called into work - something like that really can seem like the weight of the world on your shoulders.

It's not that I want to be able to say that I have it worse than most people - but I do want people to understand that depression is different than the winter blues or just having an 'off' day. It is an actual condition - a disease, even - that is often hard to put into words.

Again, this post isn't spurred on by anybody's comments. I just know that it is often said that people don't really talk about depression and what it's like, so it's hard for others to understand. I hope this post can shed even just a little bit of light on what living with depression is like.

And that it might even inspire someone who is suffering silently with it to find the courage to admit that this is what they're struggling with and that it's okay to tell someone about it.


pam said...

I had a really hard time when I went to BC for university for a year, and I believe that part of it was that I was suffering from SAD. The endless cloudy skies and rain really took its toll on me. In fact, I would take a frigidly cold, but still bright and sunny, Manitoba winter any day over the dreary BC weather. I don't find the winters here bother me too much, but I can totally understand how the weather can affect people so strongly.

Of course, it's easy for me to say that right now while I'm sitting in my shorts on vacation in Florida! ;)

Jenn said...

That's great you have found something you can identify with and give this a name. I hope some of the suggestions that you listed to help combat it will work for you.

Gin said...

Your post makes a whole lot of sense to me!!! Mine isn't SAD I don't think but the anxiety can at times take over. I've decided to go back onto my anti-anxiety meds. Wow, what a difference they're making. Flying to and from Montreal the last weekend of the month was relaxing unlike our Florida trip.

I'm so thankful that you TALK about what you're dealing with. I wish this would be a conversation that more people, women in particular would engage in. I think depression / anxiety is much more common than we think.

Keep the conversation going!!

Heather said...

Hi i’m Heather! I have a question for you! Please email me :)

Jackie said...

hi girlfriend! you know i can relate to how you're feeling and it makes me feel sad for you. i hope the winter rolls out soon for us, eh? and thank goodness we have girlfriends! lets get together soon - you need a hug from me! and maybe a movie, some pepsi, shopping, nachos.........

TammyIsBlessed said...

Thanks for always having the courage to talk about this. Hopefully it's therapeutic for you as well, but I'm sure it's relieving to others reading it suffering from the same thing and so glad they're not alone. I'm proud of you.