Be Your Own Best Doctor

The Internet, for all of its usefulness, makes many doctors groan...

The first step to dealing with your SAD is recognizing that you may have the disorder.

My husband was the first one to suggest the possibility of SAD to me, and after reading more about it, I quickly realized that I had figured out my own issue.

I did see a therapist to confirm this suspicion, even though I was pretty wholly confident at that point in my own diagnosis, and to find out how I could manage the disorder more effectively.

That’s why I loved this frank and honest post from I’m Pretty Even as she talks about self-diagnosing herself with SAD:

78 and Sunny

And in regards to the moving part, girl, I am definitely right there with you, and actively working on it. 😉 The best and most guaranteed cure for SAD is a change in venue.

Even if you know that you do have SAD, some of the reasons that you may want to see a doctor is to get a prescription for treatment of some sort, whether light therapy (whether inside or outside the home) or anti-depressants. My insurance paid for my light, because I asked the doctor to write a prescription for it. If you choose to take meds, you will need to be eased onto and off of it at the proper times throughout the year.

Another reason to see a doctor to get your diagnosis in writing is to avoid problems at work if your situation requires modification to assist you in dealing with your disorder. Your work is required to provide reasonable accommodations in regards to any disability, but you must have a verifiable condition. I was able to win an unemployment case due to this, but only because I had taken the proper steps. Let’s say you need a vacation during the winter to help you deal with your disorder, but your work only allows vacations in the summer– having a doctor’s diagnosis might resolve this issue. Or your work suffers a little during the winter– having a diagnosis on file could increase workplace understanding, and help to prevent unnecessary negative feedback from your boss who just thinks that you are slacking off or do not care about the job anymore.

An additional reason to be professionally diagnosed is that you may be able to participate in case studies, but only if you have received a proper diagnosis. And on a personal level, your friends and family may get tired of hearing you complain about your disorder or might not understand, but a therapist knows that it is normal, and can providing that caring ear along with expertise advice.

It is definitely wise to be your own best doctor, since nobody cares more about yourself than you do, and you are ultimately responsible to actively manage your own condition. But there are some reasons that you may want to see a doctor in regards to your Seasonal Affective Disorder as well, at least in the beginning stages.

Into the Light

I am so tired of walking around in the darkness of my mind that is filled with a SAD-induced haze...

In my ongoing quest to prop myself up, I drank some coffee this morning prior to an interview.

This afternoon, I took a short nap, which brought on some better mental clarity, but made me feel tired in a different way.

Now I am onto my next plan of attack. I have been using a mini light for the last couple of weeks, since I have been feeling the decline. For some reason, I could have the light on all day long without feeling that much more awake, or the eventual agitation that normally comes with using the light for too long. Thus, all things considered, it led me to wonder if the light was not working.

I checked online, and it seems like the light has worked for some others. But some people were upset that it said that it had a certain amount of light lux, but only when using the two mini lights together. I was already concerned that it might not work for me in the first place, as I did not like the bluish tone that it has.

I have now brought out my larger light that I have used in years past, and I think that I may experience some more typical results. I may also go blind in the process, but at this point, I will almost take wide awake, but blind if I must choose.

Like the sun, this light has a more mild yellowish tone to it, so it is more natural to my eyes. The ones with a bluish tone remind me of fluorescents that I hate and that give me headaches. This light pierces my eyes in a different way, but it works, and that is about all that I can ask for right now.

Wish me luck– and lots of light– and I wish you the same. 😉

Sometimes some light, natural or not, is your best friend in the world.

This is More than your Common Case of Laziness

Why can't I get my mind to focus on any one path?!

I do freelance writing for a living. Dr. Norman Rosenthal described why he normally refuses to have fall or winter deadlines. I thought I was going to outsmart him, and maintain the same level of writing as the rest of the year. I was wrong.

In addition to the standard exhaustion that Seasonal Affective Disorder brings, along with your common case of laziness, I have been having severe problems focusing to do even a simple task. I simply cannot get my mind to focus on any one thing. My memory is failing, my motivation is lacking, and I just cannot concentrate.

We are experiencing some fabulous weather for early March, and I thought the sun and warmer temperatures today would cause me to experience a newfound determination to get my work done. I stepped out to enjoy some sunshine; I opened windows in the house; I turned on my light; I exercised; I played some music; I did some physical housework; I ate some indulgent snacks (Dove Ice Cream Miniatures, to be exact); and I drank some coffee– all to no avail. I have gotten some work done, but the thought of meeting a deadline next week is daunting, especially when I was trying to work on one assignment, and just got another.

I decided to take a blogging break to see if the natural flow of creativity that comes with it would calm me down and help me to be more productive. True to zombie form, when I get like this, it is almost like my eyes cannot clearly focus on any one thing, which makes reading or writing difficult. I cannot properly process information. People can talk to me, and I will completely ignore what they say (and not even on purpose this time). Language becomes more foreign, and my coordination less accurate. I am at a loss as to how to remedy this.

I know that many people experience some relief as spring is on the horizon. For me personally, this is often the toughest time of all.

Do you have any ways that you manage to increase concentration and focus in spite of your S.A.D.? If so, I would sure love to hear them– comment below, and help a fellow zombie out.

Did you ever notice that zombies seem to have trouble focusing on any one thing? This seems to be the case both physically with their eyes and mentally with their mind.

So Tired It Hurts…

I have just went head-first into a wall, and I do not know how to recover...

On Friday evening after meeting my publication deadline, I was excited to move onto housework and other responsibilities. By the end of the evening, I was experiencing a level of exhaustion that was almost unbearable. I assumed it was due to the deadline and how hard that I had worked to complete my work, and that it would pass after a night’s rest.

Well, it didn’t. Here it is Tuesday evening, and I have been the epitome of a zombie since that time. I am literally so tired that it hurts. My body hurts; my mind aches; I cannot think straight; and my coordination is slow and lacking. I hit a brick wall before the weekend, and I have not since recovered.

I have tried caffeine, and that is not helping. I have tried rest, but any reprieve is only temporary. Eating and drinking does not help. Today, February 21, 2012, I took one of my small lights out for the first time. I have had it on since the early afternoon, and I am still deliriously tired. It is truly hard to describe.

I have a tiring week ahead of me, and if this continues, I am wondering how I am going to make it. I had assumed that the fatigue may have been due to “that” time of the month or impending sickness, which it may still be, but as time drags on, and I still feel like I have been run over by a train, I am beginning to doubt those two contributing factors.

I am starting to remember what S.A.D. truly feels like. I always know and remember, but still seem to forget the full magnitude of it. It’s no joke. I am truly living like the walking dead right now.

Life as a zombie is just no life at all...

Is Winter a Risk that You would Rather not Take?

Winter can leave you stumbling in the dark when it comes to financial decisions. Here's why...

Seasonal Affective Disorder can influence you in ways that you may not even consider. I remember reading that unemployment rates are high amongst those who suffer from S.A.D. due to their inability to perform according to normal standards during winter.

Apparently not only can the seasons affect your mood, but also your tolerance for risk. Read below for more information:

This is Your Portfolio on Winter: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Risk Aversion in Financial Decision Making

The study seems to indicate that those affected with S.A.D. are more concerned about financial risk during fall and winter, but more open to potential risk during spring and summer. I am no doctor, but I can understand these findings for at least a couple of reasons.

First of all, being that S.A.D. is a form of depression, during low-light months our outlook on life is diminished. We may become not only more down, but also more pessimistic. Likewise, during the better time of the year, we may feel more bright and sunny with a better outlook on life and a renewed sense of optimism.

Another reason that these findings may make sense is due to the nesting instinct that affects many people during cooler, darker days, whether they happen to be affected by S.A.D. or not. We instinctively desire to build up our resources during cold weather, and in doing so, derive some comfort that helps us to make it through the tough seasons. The concept of the market with its ups-and-downs may prove to be unbearable to someone who is trying to hold onto everything they have as a matter of survival.

The jury is still out as to whether you are wiser to be making serious financial or portfolio decisions during winter or summer. Decisions made in winter can be too safe to prove worthwhile; decisions made in summer may be too reckless to achieve your ultimate goals. Especially when it comes to finances, it is preferable to determine your course of action whenever you personally feel the most in balance. Or another option is to weigh your feelings on the issue throughout the various seasons to gather a general consensus of which direction you should go.

Balancing your portfolio may be a task best left to when you are feeling balanced.

My Own Personal Rules of S.A.D. Survival II

Well, I made it through the holiday season, and I am assuming that you did, too, if you are now reading this. It was a good stretch, and I had plenty of down time to get caught up on some writing and other things around the house. That has continued into this week, as it is has been extremely slow, but I am not complaining! It’s nice to have time to breathe and do some duties that normally get thrown by the wayside.

Part of my productivity and inspiration has stemmed from the decent weather that we have had thus far. The snow blower has remained in the garage, and we have barely had any snow to even speak of. Today was up to almost 50 degrees with full sun all day. We have been very blessed, to say the least. May it continue!

What is in your S.A.D. survival guide? I'm sharing what's in mine...

In one of my last blog posts, I talked about having some personal rules of S.A.D. survival. Well, good news, because I have the second installment of the post that was featured on The Crazy Rambler:

Guest Post II by “My Life as a Zombie” Dealing With S.A.D.

If you live someplace that Seasonal Affective Disorder is common, you know that you will deal with it on an annual basis, so it is wise to develop your own “S.A.D. Survival Guide,” whether formally or informally.

I want to thank The Crazy Rambler again for allowing me to take up some valuable space on her blog. I hope that you will check out her blog, which is much more advanced and versatile than this one.

In other news, this has nothing to do with S.A.D., but since zombies are an interest of mine, I thought it would be interesting to pass along this scientific news story about bees exhibiting zombie-like behavior:

Discovery.com– FLY PARASITE TURNS HONEY BEES INTO ‘ZOMBIES’

Maybe these zombie bees were exhibiting signs of S.A.D. by gravitating towards light and walking around in circles. That description does not sound all that different from me during winter. 😉 Talk about killer bees…

Enjoy the upcoming weekend!

"Zombee"? This news story suggests that the concept may be more real than we think. Photo credit: ShirtShovel.com

My Own Personal Rules of S.A.D. Survival

What is in your S.A.D. survival guide? I'm sharing what's in mine...

When you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, you can count every wintry day that you make it through as an accomplishment.  The name of the game becomes getting through your days as effectively as possible under the circumstances.

Recently I was asked by The Crazy Rambler to provide a guest post naming some ways that I manage to get by in spite of my S.A.D.  As I have dealt with it over the past 3 years since being diagnosed, I have learned some personal “tricks of the trade,” if you will.  Some of them may be only useful to me, and some may be useful to others.  After I was diagnosed with S.A.D., I literally wrote a survival guide for myself that I still have.  It helped to give me a game plan and some hope for times when my mind is cloudy and tired and all hope seems lost.

I am passing along this first installment of my guest post in hopes that you will find it helpful, or at least, you can take comfort in my struggles, as misery does love company (believe me– I know):

Guest Post I by “My Life as a Zombie” Dealing With S.A.D.

How do you get by during this tough time of year?  I would love to hear your own tricks and tips, so please comment below.

Make sure to catch the second installment with more S.A.D. survival tips later this week.