Oh the holidays. I don’t really care for them, they’re just another day and with this new job, they’re days off, and who doesn’t enjoy a PAID day off.
I think in the back of my mind in November, I knew something was going to hit the fan. My psych had stated that we could go to three month appointments but as he wrote out my prescriptions something nagged at me. I quickly asked if we could stick to monthly appointments and because of my financial situation (which has improved) he asked if I was sure. I don’t know what it was, or why my head screamed, “Girl, you better come back next month,” but I’m glad it did.
I wound up leaving work early one day to go to urgent care and to my horror discovered I had put on 10lbs. I knew my slacks were starting to feel a little snug but what the hell?! After an underwhelming visit for a sinus infection and no real explanation as to why my lymphnode was causing me the worst pain in my life, I went home and told my mom about the weight I gained. She said, “I knew, I can see it in your arms.” Now, I’m super thankful my weight isn’t in my belly. The last time I gained weight, I looked pregnant – I was even asked why I was smoking while pregnant. That also caused me to stop going to work out of sheer embarrassment of the weight I had gained. But finding out I had gained 10lbs hasn’t really sat well with me.
I’m also SUPER lethargic. My friends will tell you that I can SLEEP. I can sleep for over 12 hours, wake up, and go right back to sleep. But the tiredness I was feeling was a little over the top. The problem was, each day was different on how and when sleep would visit me. I would either come home, eat, and go to bed or I would come home, eat, and be wide awake in bed praying that the clock really didn’t say 0200. What really upset me was that I had just finally started to sleep through the night, too. So what was going on?
I saw my psych and told him about how tired I had been and how hungry I had suddenly become. Now, this isn’t my first rodeo in a desk job, I had worked one for 6 years and I ate ALL the time. I’m talking would go and buy a big breakfast, eat a decent lunch, go home and have dinner, and snack the entire day. My dad pointed out that I’m a lot older now and my metabolism isn’t what it used to be but despite still eating 3 meals a day, I don’t eat nearly as much as I used to. My alcohol consumption is also no where near to the extremes that it was when I hit my heaviest (150 lbs). And that’s when my psych looked at my history. It seemed that not including last year, I never made my December monthly appointments, so while the information was limited, what I was describing sounded like Seasonal Affective Disorder.
So what’s Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, SAD is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons; while it typically occurs in the fall/winter, it can occur during the spring/summer seasons as well. Symptoms of SAD in the winter are:
- Having low energy
- Weight gain
- Craving for carbohydrates
- Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”)
My bed has never felt more comfortable in MONTHS, and even with a pinched nerve (I don’t know how it happened and I really wish I did) causing me pain when I lay in certain positions, it’s heaven. I was worried my psych was about to tell me some horrifying news, adding medication. Let me tell you my relief when he said that he had a treatment that didn’t involve that. He told me about the Happy Light, a light designed to give us the light exposure we miss out on during these months. He instructed me to order one from Amazon by Verilux. Now, this isn’t the first time he’s suggested this to me however, this is the first time that I am in the right space of mind to be fully committed to my treatment…so long as that treatment is not ECT or any new medications. Yes, ECT has been recommended before and I’ll write about that in my next post.
Since my financial issues are improving, I went and looked up the Happy Light. I didn’t find the one for the price point he was suggesting however, I found one for $45 and with Amazon Prime, I was able to get it the next day. Let me tell you, this thing is BRIGHT. My intention is to use it first thing in the morning for 15 minutes but the way my sleep has been, this might have to be a once-I-get-home evening event. Since I’m still in the first week of using it, I can’t provide any insight however, I wanted to share. If my psych had told me four years ago that I had SAD on top of my Bipolar Disorder, I would’ve lost it. But because I’ve come to accept this diagnosis, realizing and understanding that it is NOT who I am but rather something that I have, it has improved my mindset. I will say this, it’s more than just your mindset, it’s your environment as well. Stressors are everywhere, but your environment, that’s one hell of a make or break. Regardless, I’m looking forward to getting some usage of the Happy Light, and I hope to have some great news, soon.
Love, Peace, & Chicken Grease.