Seasonal Affective Disorder Besides Normal Depression
I start to get scared in August when I know summer is almost over in Portland and one never knows how Sept will be. Well, it rained on my birthday in July and almost half of summer was cloudy in 2019. Even in Florida on Christmas week it was cloudy and most days with some rain. It hasn’t been clear even one day for as long as I can recall here and I’m ready to scream. I already deal with depression, so this is very tough. It was clear for about an hour on Friday when I had therapy, but was pouring rain within an hour. I went to my aqua exercise class today, although I didn’t want to. I’ve been under bright light. I’m taking Paxil. I did some yard work. But I want to eat carbs and go away somewhere. But I also feel very lonely and my unworthiness feelings are hitting me badly. I’m taking care of things, but at 68 I know this is the same old thing. Even if I went away, I’d feel lonely and would know the problems I have that I’ve worked on for so long are still with me. I’ve had to keep from almost all news as it’s so disgusting. My eye that had the partially detached retina still has a lot of floaters and shadows. I will walk a dog. I don’t have good friends here that I want to get together with. A talented medium told me yesterday to meditate, but I suck at meditation. He told me to paint the colors of the chakras on 7 different canvases which I will do, stare at one at a time, then close my eyes to bring colors into my mind. I will try. He also said I have traumas I haven’t let go of. And that I wasn’t handed a very easy life to deal with or words to that effect. Moving to a sunny location isn’t going to happen as I have strong ties here with 3 people, therapist, acupuncturist, and psychiatric nurse. Also a very good naturopath. And sunny places are too hot in the summer. I’m off to walk a dog, but any ideas and/or warm thoughts are greatly appreciated. Oh, a high school friend is in town and wants to get together. She’s a trumper!!! Jeez
Hi Anita. I’m sorry to hear what you’re going through and wishing you a new year of abundance and gratitude. It sounds to me as though you’re actively taking care of yourself in a lot of creative and healthy ways. Two things always help me when I’m feeling down-doing something good for someone else and meditating on gratitude. That helps me find joy in thankfulness and sharing with others. Have you tried volunteering at a hospital or care facility? There are so many people alone in this world who could benefit from your smiling face and listening ear. Even if you’re feeling down yourself, you can help others. Just a thought! (Sorry, I don’t know if getting together with a trumper is going to help. 😜). Hang in there! Much love to you.
Hi Anita, this may be a dumb suggestion but have you tried vitamin D? It always helps me with the winter blues and I know other people who swear by it. Take care. I will keep you in my thoughts. Remember you have friends here. xoxo
you give good ideas, but the volunteer work is hampered by the fatigue I so often get, often out of the blue. The medium said I’m not absorbing my B12 and other vitamins.
so I will try with my enzymes . As for meditating, it’s seemed close to impossible for me to, but I’m going to try the painting the chakra colors as I wrote about.
Thanks for writing.
Yes, I’m on 5000 Iu of D3.
Also DHEA, L Theanine, B6, Omega 3, MAgnesium, a Multivitamin, CoQ10, L Tyrosine, and Progesterone.
i take a thyroid compounded supplement, hydrocortisone for my low cortisol, methylphenidate for ADHD, Paxil, and a low dose of Klonopin. I’ve had panic disorder and still occasionally have panic attacks. I am hypothyroid, have Epstein Barr, not active right now. At least I don’t think so. And I’ve been depressed on and off since a kid.
My naturopath put me on most of the supplements after giving me a few tests, including a genetic test.
Sounds like you're doing everything you can. I have trouble meditating too, especially when I'm anxious. I find doing origami (not that I'm good at it, but I just try) or working on jigsaw puzzles have meditative effects and benefits. xoxo
Oh my, anita, I feel for you. Sunlight has been my saving grace this winter, so I'm not sure if I could handle so much cloudiness, let alone deal so long with depression. You're a warrior.
Do you eat seafood? If so, eating a meal of cold water fish (cod, haddock, salmon, etc.) at least once per week is supposed to help with SAD (people in Iceland and northern Japan don't display SAD symptoms nearly as often as would be expected for their latitude, because of their high seafood consumption). If you already take fish oil supplements, you still may want to try out eating whole fish; there are lots of studies out there showing that eating actual fish is more effective than oil supplements for many people.
But enough with the fish proselytizing. I think the medium and @bluebelle are on the right track. Guided loving kindness meditations (metta) may be up your alley, especially since they don't require the intense, silent concentration of other meditation types. Metta certainly helped me feel more renewed and optimistic when I started experiencing SAD symptoms in October. The chakra suggestion from the medium also made me think of meditation by coloring in mandalas. Spontaneously designing and coloring my own mandalas helped when I was in the hospital three years ago for major depression.
I hope some of this helps.
Yes, jigsaws! I was doing tons of those when I got out of the hospital.
I grew up in Western New York state, and the winter gloom was tough to deal with. One thing I found helpful was to go to a greenhouse plant nursery--taking in the green and smelling the earthy scent of freshly watered plants lifted my spirits. Perhaps there is a botanical garden or a place that sells plants that has a greenhouse you can walk through in your area?
Hope you see the sun soon!
Yes, I do eat salmon at least once a week. I looked up metta meditation and I will try that. Thanks.
Aromas and smells do affect me. Maybe I can find an indoor one here. I went into a bakery the other day with a craving for egg custard and I smelled all the wonderful baking of cakes. I loved that. But I don’t think I can sit in there all day.🤔. The woman
who waited on me said there are people who go in there just for that egg custard. I know it’s a comfort food for me.
Perhaps you addressed this in an earlier post that I missed, but did you ever have surgery for the detached retina? When I had my surgery for the macular hole, it also eliminated the numerous floaters in that eye.
You and I have a lot in common: approx. the same age (turning 68 this year), same birth month (July), SAD, prone to depression since childhood, anxiety, heat sensitivity, sensitivities to chemicals, smells, loud noises (i.e. sensory overload), history of trauma (many on this site have that history as well), unusual illnesses (also shared by many on this site -- mine have been autoimmune in nature). When I reread what I just wrote, it all sounds heavy, burdensome, and one-sided. But on the flip side, how about extremely resilient, wise, insightful, compassionate, creative? And could we have achieved that latter richness, without many of the life experiences that brought us here? I’m not so sure.
I too have problems meditating in the classic sense; in my situation, it’s too easy to dissociate. I agree with @bluebelle about the value in gratitude meditation. In my case there are times when I’m so exhausted that I feel almost a free-floating resentment towards those who appear energetic and “normal.” When that happens, the last thing I want to do is focus on what I am grateful for; I’m too mad! So I might choose to stay mad for a while. At some point I get sick of feeling that way, and eventually look in another direction, acknowledging life’s gifts. I’ll want to feel grateful, so I eventually become grateful, even for some of those life experiences that have been especially challenging and traumatic. (Note that I stated “some” of those experiences … I haven’t evolved enough to embrace everything!)
@coyote 's loving kindness meditation suggestion also works well for me. Or even a moving meditation: Tai Chi, Qigong, walking a labyrinth or in nature. Anything that gets me outside of myself and my head and/or overpowering emotions. My guides often have to tell me to “lighten up.” I can sometimes be too serious and take on the sins of the world, in addition to my own. There is always room for laughter and joy, even in the midst of the personal and global darkness. They can coexist.
I also find writing or drawing with my non-dominant hand helpful. It switches on the non-judging part of my brain, which feels very spontaneous and calming.
I understand about being hampered by fatigue “out of the blue.” It’s hard for me to make plans, not knowing how I might feel on any given day. My particular illness can render me exhausted quickly, sometimes with additional symptoms that can frighten me. I’ve encountered situations where I’ve had to ask strangers for help -- which I still dislike doing – but I’ve discovered how kind people can be. If volunteering does appeal to you, perhaps you could find a volunteering situation that would be understanding and work with you? With your life experiences, wisdom and sensitivities, you have much to offer.
Anyway, those are some of my thoughts. Perhaps something may resonate.
Meanwhile ... you've got me craving an egg custard!
Lots of love and peace to you, Anita.
Vitamin D3 (at least 5,000u/day), also K2, and another mood boosting supplement is 5-HTP. It's derived from fish oil, but safe for those of us allergic to fish, it's a dissolvable, and the best brand is Carlson's. If you don't have fish allergies, Cod Liver Oil (gelcaps or just the oil) helps, as does CBD/Hemp oil. I also take St. Johns Wort in winter, and I always take Eleuthero.
If there's no sun to be had outside, look into a Full Spectrum Lamp - they're not that expensive, my brother in Ohio swears by his. Yeah we all have S.A.D. in my family. The only thing that has cured mine is moving to San Diego. We have had a rainy winter, but we still have lots of sunny days in between and when it's sunny here, it's not half-assed like in FL, it's bright and clear and dry. Maybe a weekend down here would do the trick if that's within your budget planning.
Lastly, when I lived in a cold climate, once every week or two I'd cook up a "Hell No Winter Meal". Usually something summery like a chicken salad, sorrel soup, watermelon, oranges, caprese salad, pasta with pesto or raw tomato sauce, grilled veggies. Always accompanied by either a summery adult beverage (e.g. margarita, piña colada, bloody mary), or a light crisp white wine (e.g., Frascati or Vermentino or Vinho Verde). I'd blast the heat in the house for a couple of hours and turn on all the lights and blast happy music. It helped.
I know exactly how you feel, and I dreaded Fall and the holidays always because to me winter solstice was just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. I remember Easter blizzards too well...
im so amazed by how much we have in common. Yesterday, I had unbelievable energy and desire to do things I’ve been putting off. Today, I’m so tired. I don’t get it. Going to see if I can cut down on klonopin.....or up my Paxil. There was a little sun at moments yesterday. But still, this was more energy and motivation than I remember having in many years. I’m so confused. But today, back to my tired, down self. It is good to know I’m not alone with all my stuff.
i lived in LA for 40 years and would get very depressed on those few rainy days a year. And I was depressed often anyways.
i do have the lamp. I do take Vitamin D. And I do take CBD hemp oil when I can’t sleep. If I take too much, I’m very tired the next day.
I have friends in San Diego. One is a therapist, but she’s critical of me. Or harsh the way she says things. I feel like going to Disneyland, but also feel the need to be near my therapist and acupuncturist.
i can’t use St John’s Wort because of the meds I’m on. I can’t drink cuz alcohol makes me feel weird and anxious. And with meds, I definitely can’t drink. Sometimes I wish I could have a happy pill that really works.
Hi Anita, I'm sending you some love and light. I just wondered if you've also had your hormone levels checked too? I was going through a minor depression last year and it turned out my thyroid levels on the surface looked ok, but were borderline hypothyroid. When they finally got me on some medicine (took a few tries to get it right) I have noticed I'm no longer depressed. I hope you feel better soon...HUGS!! 😇 ❤️
Thank you, Tricia. Yes, I get my hormone levels checked. That’s why I’m on hydrocortisone and progesterone and a thyroid supplement. Sometimes I wonder if the supplements are strong enough, but the rechecks on these levels show them to be good now. My next hormone recheck is in March.
I forgot to tell you that the laser was the surgery for my eye. The floaters increased by dozens after that procedure and I have areas where there is blackish shadow. Very frustrating.
I'm so sorry you have to deal with so much at the same time. In my own situation I refer to it as "the usual tightrope walk". One misstep and I suffer.
You don't have to put alcohol in the drinks - something fruity and with an umbrella stuck in it will work just as well, I also enjoy a virgin colada or a virgin mary.
And I hope you can get to Disneyland or any other happy place!
@anita, what does your eye doc say about the floaters and shadow? Surgery for the macular hole, which I had, doesn't use laser. They use specific instruments to remove the vitreous gel with a small incision. Since floaters are contained in the gel, when the gel is removed, so are the floaters. I believe that's their main procedure for getting rid of floaters.