My first depression-related diagnosis was Dysthymia, which is like a low-grade depression that lasts over an extended period of time. Then I was upgraded to Major Depressive Disorder, which pretty much means depression is my baseline and anything else is an improvement. Now, there are all kinds of depression, but today I am talking about one that I have not been officially diagnosed with, because it is a sort of depression offshoot: Seasonal Affect Disorder, or SAD. (The acronym is hilarious.)
Because I have MDD, I haven’t been diagnosed with SAD, despite the obvious symptoms of it. I recall once many years ago when I went to a new doctor and they did a full blood panel, and discovered that I had low Vitamin D. My doctor literally said “but then, so does all of Western New York.” Which is true, because despite our beautiful summers, we don’t get much sunlight ‘round these parts, especially in winter. Winter is cold and snowy and dark. Spring is rainy and gray. Even our Autumn carries with it clouds and potential for snow. It’s just generally “blah” around here sometimes.
My husband suffers greater in the winter. He spends a lot of spare time sleeping, and always packs on a few extra pounds. However, once the sun starts arriving daily, he is up and about and moving and exercising and everything you would expect a healthy, cheerful individual to do. It is entirely dependent on weather for him sometimes, and I saw that yesterday.
It was beautiful here, over 60 degrees and sunny. There was a lot of wind, but that didn’t stop him from waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go. We planned on going on a hike but that fell through, so inste4ad he did some things around the house for me. We were both in very chipper moods and had a lovely day, opening the windows wide to let in the sunshine and fresh air.
Now, it is morning. It’s 37 degrees, and raining. The sky is a cloudy gray, and there is no hope for sun or warmth in the forecast for the next few days. Yesterday was a blip, and today is more of the usual.
It’s hard to fight SAD. I know some folks take extra Vitamin D, and others use sunlamps and such. I don’t think I need those things, because while the weather can get me down, as I said, depression is my baseline. I have my meds and my coping mechanisms and my therapy…I can manage. Others need that extra boost come wintertime, however, and it for them that I write today, as we stare down the end of a long and chaotic darkness…spring starts in a couple weeks, but not for us, not really. For me, it’s not until after Easter, when the sun finally makes an appearance and the flowers start to bloom. For now, I will drag myself through the next month, pray for more 60-degree days, and hope for sunlight to stream through my office window soon.