The SAD Days

I wasn’t planning on writing today. But a moment presented itself and I thought, “why not?”

I have gotten over the fall transition hump. Mostly. But the fall transition slump has not seemed to have gotten over me. I’m beginning to experience an emotional dip as the seasons begin to change, and I have to be honest, it has me a little scared.

I have always struggled against depression, but when the winter rolls in like the beast it is, the struggle becomes a massacre on the battlefield of my life. But only sometimes.

That’s the most frustrating thing about seasonal affective disorder, depression, and the myriad of conditions like them. They don’t always look the same. Even from moment to moment.

Seasonal affective disorder

A quick search of the term will give you as much info as you’ll want to know about what may be ailing you if you feel SAD (pun. Get it? The acronym? Anyway…) at the same time of year every year. Over 3 million cases of seasonal affective disorder are documented every year (according to web Md.) Yet, somehow, knowing that doesn’t help me feel any better about what happens to my days.

Mine seems to come with season changes, spring and fall, but can persist throughout the winter when I have hormone imbalance or sustained stress. I have tried light therapy, and would be gladly continuing it if the darned contraption had lasted more than one season.

Light therapy is supposed to help out the seasonally affected by simulating daylight during time when your body is wakeful yet not receiving much natural daylight.

For me it was like a tiny sun had appeared under my chin to bring joy into my life. The hardest part was finding the right angle for the light to be entering my eyes, yet not blinding me. Mostly, you feel like you are always undergoing extensive questioning.

A day in the life of the seasonally affected

The hardest part is the mornings, but mornings are always hard for me. When I hear the morning ritual of slamming doors and flushing toilets that tells me the children are waking, my heart sinks right down into the mattress and I have to remind myself to breathe again.

Caffeine doesn’t help the blues. No matter how much stimulant you pump through these veins the energy still pours right out my toes when I stand up.

When I can get rolling, routine is my best friend. Breakfast goes off without a hitch and the kids power through their chores. Then we come to the school speed bump.

Most days I have some idea what needs to be gotten done and it’s just forcing the grocery cart of focus over it. No small feat there. If you shop for a family of 6 you know what I mean.

Some days I’m blindsided and that’s where the wheels come off. Sometimes I can pull it back together, and sometimes that focus cart just topples and they are off to their own stuff. And, as I feel the last drops of energy fall to the pavement as a pick up the pieces of my day, (mostly making sure everyone still eats) I collapse into a heap of discouragement, praying tomorrow will be one of the Most days.

At this point, during the course of Most days, I remember briefly Some days that it is not so good and give thanks to God for His many blessings.

Even Most days, this is the point I remember my not seasonally affected days. When, by the time we have finished the first subject of school I will have begun the dinner prep and have an idea of what I’m doing for lunch. (This inevitably causes a small amount of anxiety over what I am going to do for lunch.)

We make it through some sandwiches and apples and begin the little ones naps before the afternoon chores and school.

Now the fatigue begins to overtake me. 2pm is the time when coffee can save my life. I make myself a cup and begin a tiny panic over dinner. I put this out of my head to work on folding laundry or dusting the China hutch. (Things that are much more important.)

By the time 4 rolls around I am frantically rushing about the kitchen, all four children running up and down the hall that empties into the middle of the work zone. For some reason they must play where mom is working when she is in a flurry. It helps.

Enter husband stage left

Unfortunately, this time of year he is in no state to be helpful, either. He’s a supervisor for his company and is also in school full time with a strong conflict of interest. Hunting season. Small game opened in September and duck opened in October. November rifle season on deer is right around the corner. He has shooting lanes and feed plots and stands to prep for November. This season is busier than Christmas for him!

The kids are always excited he’s home, I’m relieved, and he just needs a nap.

Usually we have something going on in the evening. A church or family something most often, sometimes dinner with friends.

And then, the stillness of the evening.

Moment of reflection

A soft hum from the fan in the corner. A light throb behind my left temple. Gentle numbness in my fingers and toes from the chill in the air, while warmth radiates from the rest of me under the blanket. A few deep, intentional breaths.

The fight and frustration of the day melt away for a few moments as I pause to reflect on my day. There is so much struggle in the moments, and so much accomplishment in overcoming them. Who would I be if it weren’t for my struggling seasonally affected days? Would I have battled my weaknesses? Would I have found the end of myself? Would I even know I need God for every breath?

Mercy pours out from heaven for me in moments like these. The tears pour down my cheeks in a slow trickle. The faithfulness of God is sufficient for all things! Even when it seems that I could not possibly face another day like this, He reminds me that I have never faced a day alone, and I never will. Now if I could just quit trying to!

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