Tag Archives: depression

Once More Into the Winter…

Around January of this year, I discussed my attempts to preventatively address the depression dips I’d faced over past winters.

It was usually in retrospect that I realized I felt so terrible because depression, and that, for me, that depression clawed into me around January/February. Y’know, that Seasonal Affective Disorder thing.  It happens to many writers.  Others face far worse SAD than I do, so I don’t want to make too big of a deal out of it, but neither do I want to discount the somewhat borderline experience of those like me. So the best way I can describe where January and February sometimes led me is this: I did not at any time want to shoot myself in the head, but I could clearly see how and when it could become a viable option.

Last spring, I’d intended to share how things worked out as a result of different efforts. Time and stuff got a bit tight, I don’t think I every got around to it. So let’s re-cap the season now with the intention of looking ahead:

First, the Vitamin D thing. I’ve had bunches of people brush this off because they heard “research said” Vitamin D has no impact on SAD in particular and depression in general. Take it from someone who actually reads the national and international studies, including the comparison of dosage, timing, and supplement quality. A few minutes of warm-season sunshine prompts your body to produce about 10K IU of Vitamin D. Most of the “It doesn’t work!” whining is the result of daily dosages that are less than a third that amount OR the study uses a monthly mega-dose.

So I take 4000 IU to 6000 IU a day. And you know what? I feel a hell of a lot better in the Januarys and Februarys when I do that than in the ones in which I don’t. And though I indeed felt down and unproductive last winter, and had a horrible hollowed-out feeling over losing Ty, I did not bottom out as I had previously. And it only costs me about thirty bucks over the course of the winter. There is not even a question of that continuing! Of course I’ll be taking the Vitamin D.

What about the bright window decals and the birdfeeders? Y’know, these by themselves are not SAD counters I’d depend upon. But they did give me an opportunity to smile every single day. Now, I miss watching the birds. I miss seeing bright colors spill into my living room with the dawn. Alas, I don’t have an eastern facing window that is mine to control right now, but I have picked up a couple birdfeeders.

And I gotta admit, one of the big draws of Colorado over Indiana is the amount of winter sunshine I can expect. I was fast running out of the ability to cope with days and days of gloomy light and gray landscapes. Even the cold doesn’t affect me nearly so much as when I can see the sun, and colors, and brightness.

So I’m stepping into this winter with more hope than in previous years, and am looking forward to reporting good results.

Anyone else out there with winter survival tactics or concerns?

#SFWApro

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It’s the Little Things

Last winter was… rough around these parts.  The temps were abnormally low.  Cloud cover was the norm.  Snow and ice lingered.  School closings were so commonplace, the local kids had perhaps two weeks of normal attendance between December and March.  Deprived of the sun, unable to feel productive, stalled in any professional endeavor that required travel, I came face-to-face with winter depression.

The last time that happened, my son and I were living poor on a rural farm.  Transportation was difficult in the best weather–astronomical gas prices combined with long distances severely limited trips to town–but became a fearful battle when snowstorms and ice swept in.  Driving six miles through open fields, when the only indication of where the road might be are the widely-spaced mailboxes is… stressful.

This year, I was determined to set positive things in place so the winter wouldn’t rip my heart out.  Really, last year was horrible enough to frighten me into being much more proactive this time around.

Working from inside the body, I stocked up on a high-quality D3 supplement.  I take 4000 to 6000 IU of D3 every day.  Every single day.  I’d done that in previous winters, and just didn’t make it a priority last year because… I don’t know.  Perhaps because I got complacent.  But by the time I thought Vitamin D just might take the edge off my desire to curl up the closet until June, playing catch-up was hard.  I’m not taking that risk this year.

Outside, I put up additional bird feeders.  A skilled birdwatcher I am not, and I have no desire to become one.  But I discovered watching the birds brings me joy and calm.  So I keep the feeders hanging around my front porch filled, and spend a my morning coffee-time watching the birds.  Getting the no-waste feed makes this less of a clean-up hassle as well.  Besides, Gambit-pup watches birds with feline-like interest, so he gets entertained as well.

In the house, I changed out curtains–trading the light-blocking ones in my east-facing bedroom for white sailcloth that lets in all the dawn’s early light. I also put a floral window decal on the window’s lower half, which not only provides privacy, but keeps my neighbor’s silly floodlight from illuminating my bed. Thus I sleep with the curtains open and enjoy the first possible moments of rising sunlight.

My back door also faces east, and since its window looks directly into the living room, I’d either kept it curtained or used a plain etched-glass window decal so I didn’t feel as if anyone could stand on the back deck and watch me sit on the couch. Seeing the morning light blocked out or whitewashed bummed me out, so I found another window decal that would splash color into the house every morning. I gotta say, I smile every day the sun comes through that window.

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And on top of all that, I’m counting down to spring. I remind myself we’ve already reached the middle of January, that the winter hasn’t been nearly as harsh as last year, that I have to make it through only two more months of true winter risk before things begin to improve.

Tomorrow we’ll have temps around 40. 40! It’s a gift! I plan to go outside and lay weedblock stuff in the garden. Because gardens and outside and sunshine are all elements of hope and promise. Because winter won’t last forever.