What is SAD and how to cope with it
We often hear how important it is to speak up, and whilst I wan’t actually diagnosed with depression; in that I have never been on medication for depression, I did suffer some of the symptoms, and finally understood what it was.
So, I’m going to tell you about my experience with SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
I want to tell you a story….
I have always said that I’m a summer person. Maybe it’s because I was born in July. Like most people, I like the bright sunny mornings, late evening sunsets; and, hopefully, the sunshine in-between.
Like most people, I’m not a great fan of winter. Dark, cold, icy, wet, windy, miserable days. Oh, sure, it’s not bad to look at from the warmth of home, watching the trees being blustered about and the rain lashing down against the windows
The reality is, it’s dark, cold, unpleasant, and no-one enjoys it.
A few years ago, around this time, I started feeling down. I mean really down. I just wanted to curl up and be left alone. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Reading a book (something which I love doing) was hard work. Actually going to work was no pleasure. I also had a constant headache.
I couldn’t put it down to anything in particular. I knew it was happening, but didn’t know why! I did know that they were the classic symptoms of depression, but this was a sudden onset, and I wanted to see what happened.
I decided to visit the doctor, who was happy enough to sign me off work for 2 weeks; for stress.
I told friends and family I was working from home. They know me as a happy, cheerful kinda guy, and this would have worried them.
During those two weeks, I had an epiphany. I was going to give up my job and “go it alone”. I spent the days researching business, speaking to agencies, planning my new start.
With my two weeks almost over, and still feeling low, I went back to the doctor, who had no hesitation in prescribing me another fortnight. (The fact he didn’t try and find out what was causing it is another story altogether!)
That took me to the end of January. By the end of the month, I had created my new business, written my letter of resignation and was all set to go.
Still, I had no idea what was wrong. Sub-consciously I started to feel brighter, maybe because I had made such a life changing decision.
At the end of February, I left the company I had spent 13 years working for and 3 days later I started life as an independent freelancer.
Things were looking up. I was feeling brighter, more energised. I put it all to the back of my mind.
The mornings were brighter, and so was my mood.
Following those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, we’ll now jump forward until the end of the year.
The beginning of December, in fact. Once again, my mood deteriorated.
I was cold, wanted to be alone, and at times just wanted to cry. My headaches had returned. Now I was stumped. I recognised this was a repeat of the last year, and I realised that it couldn’t be because of my work. I’m my own boss now, something that I love.
What the hell was it?
I remembered hearing about Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and did some research into what it is, and how to deal with it.
Another trip to the doctor later (and this time not wanting time off work, or medication) he agreed that it sounded very much like it. He suggested the use of a light box; to help boost the hormones that keep me ‘up’.
The lamps I had seen were big and unwieldy. I wanted something small and unobtrusive.
The lamp I used was portable enough to fit into a small bag. It was a life-changer.
Since I started using it I can honestly say that I have no feelings of depression. I’m not curling up, I don’t feel chilly and I’m not ready to burst into tears. I’ve not had any headaches either.
I still don’t like winter. But at least I can now get through it with a smile on my face.
Have you ever suffered from SAD, or does it still affect you?
How are you managing? What do you do to control the impacts?
You can find out more about SAD at Mind
Postscript: This is all very much in the past. I haven’t used a SAD lamp for many years; and I make sure to take advantage of daylight to get outside and soak up whatever natural light I can.
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this post, please hit those clapping hands below many times👏 It means a lot to me and it will help other people see the story.