"Only those who risk failing greatly can ever succeed greatly." –RFK
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.
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.
I am an ultra runner, physician and have been medical director of some of the toughest ultras. I tend to be a mover and a shaker and louder than my size suggests. However, my Gemini twin is gentler and contemplative, an artist, a writer, and a poet. I am a dog lover, a believer in souls, and have a special affinity for those who struggle because I have been there.
This is my crazy lovable huggable Weimaraner, Steely Dan. I call him Steely. He left us in January of this year at only 6 years from lymphoma that did not respond to chemotherapy treatments. Steely was a total goof. He loved trail running, road running, treadmill running, new experiences, making eye contact, sleeping on his back, me, kids, and liver treats. He was Zappa's best friend. We miss him dearly.
This is Stella. A rescue from the shelter. She's about 6 months old and a Border Collie. She is a joyous bundle of energy and curiosity and now also Zappa best friend. She will make a nice running partner when she grows up.
This is the now the big brother of my family - a rescued Greyhound. His name is Frank Zappa. I call him Zappa. He's 7 years old and has learned all about life beyond the track and crate from Steely when he was with us. It was very rewarding to watch his personality bloom as he settled into the family. And yes, he runs like the wind!
This is Natasha, my dearest friend. She was with me through college, medical school, residency, and she moved with me from Chicago to Spokane several years ago. She was my best running partner for 10 years. My sweet Natasha died from bone cancer in 2006. I miss her still. I hung a windchimes over the deck outside. When it chimes, I smile and think she has finally -- wherever she is now -- caught a squirrel!