Tuesday, November 18, 2008


It's that time of year ... when I wonder what is wrong with me. Why do I feel so... off, unsettled, unsatisfied, blah, unmotivated, tired? It happens every Fall, and every Fall I wonder why it is happening.

And then I remember.

I have SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I get it every year. Too bad I always forget that I have it, that I'm going to get it. If I'd just remember I could prepare and not get caught up in the Why's, and I would just start treating myself and feeling better. But I always forget.

I feel great in the Spring, in the Summer, and in the early Fall. But when the sun doesn't shine for days and Daylight Savings causes day after day of driving to and from work in the dark, I get, well, the blahs, depressed. My body is so in tune with the sun. I wake up at the first hint of dawn no matter how late I go to sleep, and conversely, my body does not wake up UNTIL the sun comes up. Unfortunatley, the world does not care about how my body works. Like most of you, I have to be at work when work starts, so I drag my protesting body out of bed, saturate it with caffeine, and I go to work - in the dark. And 12 hours later I come home - in the dark. The lack of sunlight drags me down and the cycle starts and continues.

And then, as if I figure it out anew all over again each year, I suddenly remember my SAD and "Ahhh!" I say with hope, "THAT'S why...of course!" "I must get out my light box."

And so yesterday I got my light box out of the garage and set it up on my desk. The "Monolith" I call it. It's big, 24 inches tall, and 10,000 lux, and it is like a nuclear explosion of light in the morning. I absolutely LOVE it! I sit 18 to 24 inches from it and get on my computer or read for 15 to 20 minutes and I passively absorb all its warmth and goodness into my body. And my body responds very well. I am lucky. It works. It's all I need (well, it still wouldn't hurt to have a couple southern mini vacations in the Winter!).

This year I also bought a dawn simulator, which is really just a timer that turns my night stand light on 15 minutes before I have to wake up. I tell you, I am so sensitive to light (and lack of) that I wake up in a minute or two every time my light goes on in the morning, no matter how early. I don't even have to listen to the beep-beep-beep of my alarm clock....or the second one that echoes the first 10 minutes later.

Again, I am lucky because I respond very well to bright light therapy. I have used my monolith for many years now, always with good results. I of course still long for Spring and the opportunity to spend some time in the daylight, but at least I can make it through the season like a normal SAD-free person.

...and then as Spring trickles in, the SAD just fades away and does not return until I again wonder what the heck is wrong....in the shortened days of Fall. And with Spring and its sunlight, I am renewed and re-energized and excited and I completely forget I ever had the Winter blahs.


John Price said...

Hi Lisa dear!
I'm glad your S.A.D and not sad! ;-)
I'm looking forward to running a few laps with you down south in a little over a month!
I hear they have a bit more sunlight down there! ;-)

Backofpack said...

That is one thing that just doesn't seem to affect me. I wonder why it hits some people and not others? I run in the dark, go to work in the light, come home sometimes in light and sometimes in dark, but it makes no difference. I'm one of those people that likes the dark winter nights - just so I can cozy up at home. Funny how we're all different.

On another note - got the giganto box of drymax socks to test on Monday. Wore the first pair today for 5 miles. The real test will be in the multiple marathons next week - and honestly, when it gets hot again. Kind of fun! Thanks for sending them our way!

SteveQ said...

Physicians always seem to be the last to notice their own ailments. Have a bright(ened) holiday season!

Larry L said...

Glad you respond positively to the light therapy. I can't imagine how bad the S.A.D. could be if that didn't work. At least you can get some sun doing the DV/LV marathons in December. I just signed up for DV; hope to see you there!

Journey to a Centum said...

Use the light Luke!

Maybe we should just all move to the equator. I wonder what the incidence of S.A.D. is in those regions?

Blog My Runs.com said...

I love the SUN ...and nothing was nicer then watching the sun come up over the mountains on Sunday am at JJ...really soothing but it also meant that I was closer to getting finished-LOL

Glad the Sun box is working for ya :-)

Lisa B said...

John - It'll be nice in Phoenix for sure - at least during the day. But watch out at night - it gets C-C-COLD! See you there.

Michelle - Funny, another friend of mine said the same thing. She loves the winter darkness because it's more time to curl up with a book and relax at home. Hmm, I guess I'm totally made differently! I look forward to hearing how the Drymax socks work. Have fun with all that running! Very cool.

Steve - How right you are!

Larry - Excellent that you'll be in DV! See you there!

Eric - I would LOVE to move to the equator, but with everybody there, it'd be a little crowded, eh? :)

Bob - Way awesome on your JJ finish! Congrats again. Hope your recovery is quick, especially those toes...

olga said...

Hmm, may be when I move to TX, I'll spare myself from SAD? Although I'll be sad on missing out the mountains:(

Lori B said...

Thanks for the reminder to pull out the SAD light. I was just thinking that the crabby mood and lack of motivation was something else. Funny how it's a re-discovery every year. I also supplement with extra omega oils, Vitamin D and Cal-Mag. Good Luck and thanks for the post. Lori B.

JeffO said...

Maybe that's what I have? (Hey, does insurance cover treatments? LOL)
This morning, feeling so sore just getting out of bed, I thought back to June and July, with 50-milers every weekend and training during the week, plus full-time job, and loving every minute without any problems. "Was that really me," I thought. "And it was only months ago. Feels like it was decades ago."
I sure feel S.A.D.! LOL!
It's my fault. There was sun today but I sat in the basement writing code. Pretty sick, huh?
Tomorrow I'll see about a cure.