A few years ago, I probably would have regarded Seasonal Affective Disorder the same way I react to Restless Legs Syndrome: a hearty “pffffft!” and maybe an eyeroll. But that’s because I’m generally a dick with a sour disposition. But recently, my normal level of crabby curmudgeonitude has deepened into something decidedly more chronic. Beginning in the early part of Fall ’08 and rapidly gaining in intensity and scope, I pretty much spend each day lately in varying levels of moodiness and misery. Normally my snarky countenance is mostly for show, a flimsy veil to protect the cowering cuddlebunny within, but now the ire is actually very sincere. Against my better wishes, I pretty much hate everyone and everything. I fly into a rage over really dumb things like my husband singing in the shower or hugging me too hard, I scream myself hoarse at other drivers during my morning commute, and I’m reliably 15 minutes late to work every single day because the impulse to crawl back under my comforter and die rather than face my dreary existence is irresistibly strong. But I’m not depressed in the traditional sense of the word, I don’t think.
It’s just that I’m stuck at my desk all day long and I never see the sun. The weather here has been absolute shit since October, all dreary and like the movie Philadelphia, only instead of 2 hours of grey misery, it’s 24-7. I’ve been stressed and busy doing wedding shit, post-wedding shit, adjusting-to-newly-weddedness shit, Holidays shit, house hunting shit, house buying shit, and now moving shit, so my workout schedule has been wiped the fuck out. I haven’t been this out of shape since before I was able to hold my head up on my own. But other than that, my life is great and there is nothing to complain about. Sure, I haven’t been formally diagnosed, but I really do feel that SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) could be the culprit.
I’ve always thought that listening to your body and your cravings is a really great way to be emotionally and physically healthy. Like, when I crave something (red meat, leafy greens, caffeine, chocolate), giving in always results in a strong sense of satisfaction and well-being. Well, the other day I had an overwhelming craving to just be outside while the (albeit weak) sunlight was still to be had. I got held up at work, traffic was more asinine than usual (read: instead of almost getting run over by a Colt .45 delivery truck, there were tranny hookers wielding cans of Steel Reserve popping out into the major thoroughfares like whack-a-moles), so by the time I got to the park by my house it was already dark as shit. So it was crytown. Total sobbing crytown. I decided that day not to take my SADness lying down. Some SAD therapy options for your consideration, after the jump. I’ve looked into therapy options, and aside from taking anti-depressants, the most taken-seriously SAD salve is light therapy. Really! It’s just so logical and direct in it’s approach that I’m not even about to try and dismiss it as hippie-dippy bullshit. Uh, not to mention that there is plenty of evidence to support the effectiveness of light therapy. While not approved by the FDA, many people do still report that this approach helps them find relief from their symptoms. And, while light therapy apparently is pretty pricey, I feel like over the life of the condition (every winter for the rest of your life), buying a lightbox or two will equal a fraction of the cost of Prozac, with none of the grody side-effects. Please to help me decide which gadget to buy!
Stuart Smalley-est: Verilux Happy Lite
This one seems like a good one to buy, if it’ll make me as happy as the lady in the photo. But, it’s just so big. Like, if I were to buy that & put it on my desk (which is conveniently located in a busy HALLWAY at work) the comments would never ever stop. Ever. Imagine having to explain SAD to every single person who just came by to get some paperclips or copier paper or whatever. I think the annoyance of all that far outweighs any benefit achieved by this hulking, glowing breadbox.
Most Likely to Remind Me of the Killer Inventions in the Movie Gremlins: Uplift Technologies Day-Light. Well, it’s not any smaller than the last one, but I guess if you’re going to be the crazy lady with the magical healing light, might as well go all-out. This bitch has legs. It knows how… to use them?
“And Yes, It’s Glade”-iest: Happy Lite Mini.
Normally the Glade Plug-ins-like quality of this would be perceived to be a drawback, but I think discreet is the name of the public light therapy game. I really will tell people it’s an air freshener. And to prevent any further questioning, I’ll always punctuate my explanation by vapidly cooing, “Isn’t it prettyyyyyyyyy?!” That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.
No. Not gonna happen.
Besides basic light boxes, another remedy for SAD is the sunrise simulator alarm clock. SAD symptoms include lethargy, poor sleep, and difficulty waking. These alarm clocks are said to assuage these symptoms by way of introducing a gentler, more natural way of waking. No jarring, blaring radio, no beeping, only a warm, gradually brightening light not unlike a sunrise. I have always had probs dragging my ass out of bed in the morning, so I’ve wanted one of these since I first saw an ad for one like a year ago. Which was in? A Skymall catalog. It’s da troof.
Design Most Likely Inspired by the Props Department of Back to the Future Part II: Bio Brite alarm clock.
This little guy has a lot of glowing reviews on Amazon.com, which is tempting me to go with it, but… It’s just so aggressively ugly. Like, I really hate most people’s Idea of “modern”, because that usually translates to “looks like 1980s afterbirth.” If it looked like a regular lamp I’d probably go for it. Then again, some Amazon reviewers have said that at it’s brightest, it’s still too dim to wake the most lethargic among us (me!).
Pert Plus 2-in-1 Award: BlueMax Sunrise System. This one seems cool, as it’s both a light therapy device and a dawn simulator alarm clock. Still, not enough reviews out there for me to trust it, plus it likely has the same dimness problem of the previous model. I’ll have to wait and see on this one.
Minus Garfield-iest: Apollo Health Duo. No brightness issues here, as this lil guy works with your existing bedside lamp. One drawback is that I don’t think it works with CFL or halogen bulbs, only regular incandescents. Seeing as how incandescents will probably become a thing of the past here pretty soon, this product does not have an unlimited lifespan. But that’s OK. The plus, though, is that you can use this gadget to boost your SAD fighting powers by outfitting your lamp with a wide-spectrum lightbulb to more accurately simulate sunlight. Cool. Oh, and it has a fun flipside feature that mimics a sundown so you can get to sleep gently and gradually. Hence the “duo” part.
So what do you all think? Do any of you suffer from SAD? Any experience with light therapy? Share any tips, tricks, sob stories, or whatever in the comments!