For years I struggled with a weird, weighty feeling that came over me in the fall. Part of me loved the crisp days, beautiful fall colors and romantic delusions of snuggling up with Mr. Wonderful on a chilly fall evening– but part of me turned into robo-bitch, the sometimes grumpy, sometimes short tempered, most of the time, drag ass person that haunted my every October.
It wasn’t always this way; my symptoms seem to increase with the number of candles fueling the small inferno on my birthday cake. (Even though some studies report that it lessens with senior status, I have not experienced that.)
Lucky for me, my therapist diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and suggested I start sitting under a light that was specifically designed to treat this condition. Bingo! Weight lifted, grumpiness dissipated, short temper elongated. Ass still drags periodically—usually sleep related.
It took me several years to commit to light therapy, to see the light so to speak, even after I was diagnosed, I was sure I could resolve this issue solo, I was wrong. The date on my order form to Northern Light Technologies to order my fake sunshine is 10-20-03. There are many options for lights on line, but I happen to be thrilled with my “BOX-elite”—www.northernlighttechnologies.com. These are the gold standard according to Mayo Clinic. In order to be affective it must be 10,000 lux, (lux is a measurement of light intensity), and you sit 12-18 inches from the light with open eyes for 30 minutes. You do NOT need to look directly into the light, you can read, knit, etc.
Over the years, since I started therapeutically illuminating myself, I have shared my story with others who have been thrilled to know that they are not the only people annoyed by these sobering symptoms. The American Academy of Family Physicians states that “as many as six of every 100 people in the United States have SAD. Another 10% to 20% may experience some mild form of SAD. It seems to be more common in women than men and although some children and teenagers get SAD, it usually doesn’t start in people younger than 20 years of age. SAD is more common in northern geographic regions.”
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:
• Depressed mood
• Loss of energy
• Social withdrawal
• Oversleeping (feeling like you want to hibernate)
• Appetite changes, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
• Weight gain
• Difficulty concentrating and processing information
• A heavy feeling in the arms or legs
• A drop in energy level
The intensity of my therapy light connotes “Back to The Future” flashbacks. I am sure that this odd glow coming from my bedroom window has perplexed my neighbors and titillated their overly active imaginations. If they only knew that without my light my head would spin on a 360 degree rotation and fire would actually come off the end of my tongue—no surprise that Mr. Wonderful is only a figment of my imagination.