by Cathy Anderson Moffat
I first feel the darkness descend in October, which worsens in November. Mostly I feel loss of energy (too tired too often), but lately I've noticed dark thoughts and fearful thinking. I wake up in the morning wondering: What if my senior cat and dog get sick? What if I'm not busy at work today? And at least once during the terrible, overcast days--why bother with anything?
No, I don't sleep extra hours or forget to brush my hair. It's not a regular depression, but since this has been happening year after year, I wonder about SAD (seasonal affective disorder);maybe I have a mild case of it. SAD, also known as winter depression, is a mood disorder. Most SAD sufferers experience normal mental health throughout the year, but experience depressive symptoms in the winter. It's all about the light; when the light falters, some of us have system slowdown.
As a writer and a massage therapist, SAD spells disaster. How can I push harder on their arms, legs, and backs? How can I get a few more chapters written on the novel? The query letters and book proposals I send out to lucky agents who never see them--how to up productivity (to increase the rejection ratio). Let's face it--we all want to get more done.
And dark thoughts are best left in the closet with the door shut, unless you're writing a creepy, crawly thriller. Or maybe some mysteries, too.
Never fear, the light is returning with the winter solstice on December 21, 7:22 p.m. EST. It's a celebration for the SAD people, when the longest night and shortest day tip the balance. The days get longer after that. On solstice, the northern hemisphere leans farthest from the sun, as the earth experiences maximum tilt in relationship to the sun.
But here's the good news: at the same time of our winter solstice, summer solstice regales the southern hemisphere. Lucky birds! And SAD is rare and probably nonexistent in the tropics.
Why didn't someone tell me? Get me a plane ticket and I'll finish this novel. I'll pound the daylights out of the touristos at some seaside resort.
But things could be a lot worse. I get this vision in my head of ancient people huddled in huts, enduring winter's harsh ways, waiting, just waiting for the light to come back. Worse yet, at some point they didn't even know about solstice, that the the days would lengthen and the warmth return. They couldn't drink a little Pepsi and keep right on going. Talk about doom and gloom.
When December 21 rolls around, I know I'll be jumping up and down. To combat the energy drain in the meantime, I use a broad spectrum light (some use light boxes). SSRI meds can be used, including prozac and paxil (I prefer Pepsi). I just read about negative ion therapy for SAD, another effective treatment. Lately, I've given myself Reiki, a form of energy and light work. Rather than kick myself in the nether regions, I've started being thankful for all the wonderful things in my life--gratitude therapy. Chases the dark thoughts far away.
I'm thankful for all of you, my friends, and wish you only the best during this season of love and light. I hope the dark days don't touch you, but if they do, want to spend the winter in the tropics?