S.A.D., sunlight, and sickness

Posted: January 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

I love social media.  Having spent a lot of time considering and remembering lately, I had decided that perhaps what’s been going on with me is Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)  Short explanation of S.A.D. – with less sunlight in winter, the circadian rhythm can get messed up, which can cause sleep issues, exhaustion, fuzzy-headedness, depression, and even weight gain.  I remembered that there are lights one can use for like half an hour a day or something, to turn that around.  My first foray into asking the Google about those lights showed me one for $300.

Is it worth $300 to not feel the way I’ve been feeling?  Heck yes!  Do I HAVE $300 right now to spend?  Nope.  And doubly nope, considering I wasn’t even sure yet that this was the true problem.  So I put it out there on Facebook.  I asked if anyone has a light I can borrow for a bit, to see if it helped.  I also sent a direct message to a friend of my son who uses one, to ask advice.

A friend DOES have one I can borrow, and she speaks well of the results.  Another friend noted that it was going to be a sunny day – perhaps some time out in the sun might do me well.  And my son’s friend had helpful stuff to say as well.

Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the light right away, I went with the suggestion.  On my lunch break, I went home.  I heated up a bowl of leftover soup and took it out to our deck, where I sat eating in my coat with the sun shining right on me.  And the early results are:  I didn’t get the hell beat out of me by awful thoughts before I was even waking up this morning.  No dark oppression to start my day.  YAY!

It’s a double YAY because of another detail – holy cow, am I ever sick.  I think I’ve mentioned here that I’ve been fighting a sinus infection since New Year’s Eve.  I fought it on my own for as long as I could hold out, and then last Friday I went to the doctor.  I was given something to squirt up my nose, and antibiotics, which I have taken faithfully.  I was very slowly improving.  But then yesterday, with only two days’ worth of antibiotic left, things took a sudden turn for the worse.  Fatigue washed over me, and I became a human snot factory late in the day.  I sat last night with a tissue box in my lap, just blowing, wiping, blowing, wiping, sneezing, blowing, and choking on drainage.

With my level of fatigue, I thought maybe this was a different thing – the flu, maybe.  But the doctor said this morning that it’s a relapse on the sinus infection.  I got more powerful antibiotics and have spent the day mostly sleeping, with little 10 minute shots of Facebook and big mugs of hot water with honey and lemon in between the sleeps.  It’s miserable, but it will get better.

All of this makes the success of the sunshine even more a gift.  It felt like a miracle this morning, that I could feel so utterly horrible in my body, yet not have a single depressed or oppressive thought in my head.  Though the outside of me can’t really express the joy right now, the inside of me is practically turning somersaults.  The freedom from waking up with  that horrible mean voice in my head is like getting out of prison or something.

I’m so relieved.  There was one night this week when at bedtime, I thought of how my mornings have been going, and I nearly just broke down bawling – didn’t want to go to sleep because it would bring morning, and morning has been so brutal.  Last night I had a bit less dread, but to be honest I wasn’t very convinced that one single lunch break in the sun could turn that trend around.  HALLELUJAH that it seems like maybe it did.

So today, despite the creepy crud and the exhaustion, at 1 PM I put on my coat and hat and gloves and went out to sit for an hour on the deck, letting the sun soak my face and head, and I felt wild hope that tomorrow too can be a non-horror morning.

I remembered today that there has been a pattern across my life that when I get in a January/February funk, I only fall so far before I get desperate to get outside.  When I was younger, it meant riding my horses throughout the winter.  After that, it has meant getting out for walks or bike rides.  Probably the reason I don’t recall any winter depression when I lived at JPUSA was that every day I walked to and from work, and most every day I also walked over to visit the shore of Lake Michigan, which was for sure a spiritual feeding place for me.

I may still borrow the light to test it – this is Illinois, so there will be days ahead where it’s too cold to be outside without wearing my hat and covering my face – but I am so encouraged.  Also, asking Amazon about those lights helped me find some closer to what I can financially manage, should I choose to buy one.

I am so grateful for being given the grace to push into this solution.  The thing is, amidst the struggle, it doesn’t FEEL like it’s just a problem of too little sun.  It feels like the world is crashing in, like I’m only always wrong, ugly, and bad, and like others hold me in unspoken contempt.  Those are the things that feel true, when I’m drowning in it.  It feels like a situation, not just a physical thing.  I’m so grateful that it looks like this time, it’s maybe just a physical thing.

And grateful that God supplied us so much free sunshine!

Now, that was a lot of sitting up – back to sleep I go.  Here’s to healing.


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