I get Seasonal Affective Disorder. I suffered from it long before I ever heard about it on the news. I suffered from it for many more years because I had heard the special lights that could help it were available by prescription only.
I live in cloudy Michigan. It only gets cloudier and more dreary with less daylight hours November through March. Being a fan of the Twilight books, I sometimes like to pretend I live in Forks, Washington, where there are sexy vampires and shirtless werewolves around every corner.
Every year when the Christmas celebration died down and January rolled around, I would write depressing poetry. Or want to quite college. Or quit my job. I didn’t want to get out of bed or laugh or smile. But I did. I faked it. Because I am a Capricorn. Life must have order and go on.
Even at my previous job, when I would walk outside for 30 minutes a day on my breaks and be in the car for two hours Monday through Friday, there still was just not enough sun outside to ease the symptoms. I believe that people who are more prone to depression are probably more sensitive to this. That has been my experience anyway.
Then, a couple years ago, my mother-in-law’s doctor suggested she order a SAD light to use during the winter. His nurse printed off a list of lights that could be ordered off of Amazon (Go figure!). So she ordered and received her light. I kept inquiring to find out if it was helping. It had only been a short time, but she seemed to think that it was.
So, I totally pestered my husband to order me a light as a Christmas present. After studying them all online, I ended up picking the same one that my mother-in-law had. When it arrived at the end of November, I had to convince my husband to start letting me use it right away, as I could already feel the effects of less light creeping into my body. Plus, it is not like it was going to be a surprise. I had told him which one to buy.
And it did seem to help with my symptoms that year, although I think it would have been more effective had I started it earlier. My light is a SunTouch Plus by NatureBright with an ionizer. The instructions say to start with a half hour of light per day, then you might be able to step it down to 15 minutes. I always do a half hour every morning. With a toddler and two dogs, I have trouble staying seated in one spot for 30 minutes straight. And there are always a few days when I forget, or I have to get to work, so some mornings I might only get ten minutes. It is sort of like taking birth control pills. If you miss more than one day, you are going to have serious side effects.
You have to be fairly close to the light to get the benefits, as the lights are only like 15 inches tall. If I try to use my light and my laptop at the same time, it takes up most of my kitchen table width-wise.
Supposedly, the ionizer will help with symptoms as well. I do not use the ionizer at the same time I use the light (it has a separate switch). I don’t like to be that close to the ionizer when it is on. The ionizer has a slight, weird, plasticky smell that makes me feel a little sick. Sometimes I turn it on while I am making dinner or something, and I feel like it freshens up the stale winter air in my house.
I had a scare when my dog knocked my light over and one of the four bulbs quit working. I thought I was going to have to call the company to order a new one. But it turned out that she did not break the bulb, she just knocked it loose.
In a normal winter, it does help. It keeps me from wanting to peel my own skin off. It helps me get out of bed in the morning. But I have felt especially bad in the last few weeks. I think that is because this has been an especially horrible winter, with too much cold and too much snow. Where I live here in Michigan, we have had the snowiest winter on record, combined with that PMS and the death of my hard drive.
While I can’t wait for sunshine and warmth, I dread the ants waking up and crawling into my kitchen, and days over 80 degrees.