In this series I explore how my mood changes in relation to the weather, as someone living with Seasonal Affective Disorder (major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern)
Season 2 – Winter 2019/2020
Page 10 – December 26th, 2019 — 36F Partly Cloudy, Windy🌅
The sun came out for a little bit. It always makes me smile, especially on cold days. I open the weather app on my phone and see that the temperature will get up to 36F today. Nice.
Years ago, when I used to go jogging outside every day in the evening, I had a rule for cold days: as long as it was above 32F I would go jogging outside, no matter what time.
I tell myself I should adopt that rule again this year, although now I mostly walk, instead of jog. I absolutely hate the cold, and the winter. I love going for walks during warm weather, so I really miss my walks during the cold months.
For the last few weeks I’ve tried to push myself to go out, and haven’t. Each day I’ve had an excuse. The sun goes down and I don’t go for a walk. I feel bad about not keeping this promise to myself. All I keep thinking about is how much I dislike feeling cold, and how what I really want to do is sit on the couch under the covers and take a nap. I feel bad about not going and I hate that feeling.
The only thing I hate more than breaking a promise to myself and possibly more than I hate the cold (maybe), is the whole ‘ New Year resolution’ bs. I used to engage in it too a while back. January 1st comes around and all of a sudden you want to change your whole life? Why? My question is, why wait until January 1st? Want to make a change? Do it. Why not start right now?
It’s morning and once again, I do not want to go out for a walk. I think to myself “Oh no, if I decide to wait a week to finally go for a walk, I’m going to be just like everyone else who waits until January 1st to start doing the things they know are good for them and that they should be doing right now.” So, although I procrastinate some, in the afternoon I finally lace up my sneakers, put on my hat, scarf and gloves, and get out the door. One foot in front of the other, that’s all I have to do. Just keep walking.
As the cold air surrounds my whole body, I walk down the hill, although every cell in my body wants me to turn around. One block in. I turn towards the long way around the lake. Wait, should I take the long way? I’m not wearing warm enough shoes, maybe I should take the short way this time. Nope. Push through. Keep walking. I breathe in the cold air, and the warm water vapor forms a cloud in front of my face as I exhale. It’s definitely not 36F degrees anymore. Surprisingly there are a lot of people out walking their dogs. “Hello”. “Hello”. Nod and smile. Pretend you aren’t hating every step you’re taking. Shit, I definitely should have worn two pairs of pants. The sun is going down. It is cold af. Walk faster.
As I walk past the boat ramp that goes into the lake, I look at the frozen water. It’s frozen over the top, but not all the way through. I walk closer, just observing the ice. Admiring the air bubbles caught in the ice. A ray of sunshine sneaks out from behind the clouds. The sun is just about to set. I push on the ice with one foot, barely putting any weight on, while keeping the other foot on dry land. I hear the satisfying sound of the ice cracking and breaking. I watch as the piece of ice goes underwater for a brief second then floats back up. I move over and push down on a different part of the ice with my foot again. I hear it cracking and breaking. That sound is just so incredibly satisfying, I do it a few more times. I hear people talking, while walking their dogs. I smile. Ah there it is. Hi there, endorphins. I missed you.
I can feel my brain chemistry changing. There’s a point during every walk, when my brain stops telling me to turn around, and I am finally able to enjoy my surroundings. It happens every single time. I just have to push myself to keep walking until it happens. All of a sudden I actually want to be there, looking at the dry trees around me, smiling and nodding at people passing by, I don’t want to turn around anymore. I keep walking, all the way around the lake. The sun sets and it gets slightly colder, but I just keep walking. I feel good, because I didn’t break the promise to myself today. I don’t hate every step I’m taking anymore. I just keep walking.
Season 1 – Winter 2018/2019
Page 9 – January 4th, 2019 (continued) — 29F Partly Cloudy, Windy🌙
Ow. Ow ow ow. Holy shit it hurts. As I slowly regain my awareness I feel an overwhelming burning sensation coming from my chest. The pain I’m experiencing is such that I can feel tears running down my face before I even open my eyes.“Are you feeling any pain?” I hear. “Yes, a lot” I utter from behind the oxygen mask over my mouth. I’m reassured that I will be given medicine to address the horrible pain momentarily, as I’m asked to take deep breasts.
Opening my eyes I see my husband standing next to me, holding my hand. He looks concerned and upset as he wipes the tears off my face. Aw, it’s ok Love, I’m ok. It just hurts like a motherfucker. Thankfully the god-sent medicine starts kicking in and within seconds the pain subsides. My brain is now mostly awake, but my body is not quite there yet. I’m thinking, alright, the pain is better, I’m up now, we’re good! I’ve come to find out later, by my husband’s report, that at that point my speech was equivalent to that of a drunk monkey and my facial expression was one that resembled someone who was coming back from the beyond. Thus my husband’s look of concern. I am ok, I think I feel ok but apparently I look like death.
The I.V. I’ve had hooked into my arm for over 7 hours now, has pumped me with god knows how many oz of fluid and I desperately need to pee. I have no recollection of how I went from laying on the bed in the recovery room, to being rolled into the bathroom in a wheelchair, but as soon as I realize I’m now sitting up for the first time I notice something missing. I feel lighter. I AM lighter. I look down and remember that pieces of flesh were literally removed from my body and for the first time I realize the weight hanging from my chest is significantly smaller. It’s a strange feeling. Not bad, just new. From now on this is my new normal.
Page 8 – January 4th, 2019- 29F Partly Sunny, Windy🌤
The moment my alarm sounds, I open my eyes and think, this is the day. Get up, shower, wash my hair. Who knows how many days I’ll go with washing it after today? Drink water. Drink water again. I have until 8am to drink as much water as I can. Gotta stay hydrated so that IV will go in easier and they won’t have to poke me multiple times.
I couldn’t sleep, last night, why didn’t I use that time to pack? Of course I left it all until the morning. It’s ok, I have time. More water. Love my new Mickey Mouse overnight bag my husband got me for Christmas at my request! I knew I would need one for today. New pijamas, check. Deodorant, check. Slippers, check. Underwear… damn it. I knew I had forgotten something. Why didn’t I think of buying a couple pairs of comfortable underwear?! All I own is lacy thongs, that’s probably the last thing I want to be wearing in the hospital. Found one older pair of full underwear, that’ll do. Is it 8:00am yet? Nope, got a few more minutes to drink water.
In the car I feel calm. I was more nervous last night. It’s a nice sunny morning, although it’s super cold and windy.
After sitting in the waiting room for about 20 or so minutes, I follow the nurse to the pre-op area. After changing into a super fashionable surgical johnny, and uncomfortably small hospital socks, the nurse asks me to confirm what procedure I’m having today. I reply “reduction mammoplasty”. In just a couple hours I will be undergoing a breast reduction. Unfortunately the copious amounts of water I had drank up until 8am, in hopes of being hydrated enough so the IV would go in on the first try, failed. As the nurse prepares the top of my hand to be poked, I’m thinking I should probably tell her that it’s easier to find a vein in my arm. No, I don’t want her to think I’m trying to tell her how to do her job. Five minutes later, she gives up on my hand and tries my arm. Son of a bitch, that poke hurts on my hand. It’s ok, soon enough I will be out and won’t be feeling a thing, much less that little needle hole.
As soon as my surgeon arrives and greets me with a smile, all of my anxiety is replaced by excitement. She measures me, traces my chest with a marker, perfectly outlining where the incisions will be. I watch her careful measurements not even imagining what the results afterward will look like. She’s an artist.
It’s time. I’m rolled into the OR, my heart full of joy. I’m greeted by the OR staff. They introduce themselves one by one. Hi! Nice to meet you! Hi! Hello! Hi! Nice to meet you! I’m so excited and grateful for each and everyone of these people for taking care of me today. I wish I had time to shake everyone’s hands, or maybe give them a big hug, but I have to lay down now because I’m about to be put out. I’m given the oxygen mask as I lay flat on the table. My husband had mentioned the gas might have a distinct smell, but that I would only have a couple seconds to try and figure it out before I fall asleep. Mmm, I don’t smell it. This mask does, however, have a little air pillow all around its outline, it feels so soft on my fa… Zzz
Page 7 – December 10th, 2018 – Sunny 23F☀️
I woke up feeling OK. Not super energized nor tired. Thankfully I slept well, most importantly enough. I felt good in the morning and made sure I had enough time to plan out my day. I’m so grateful it was a sunny day because it was definitely very cold and the sun always helps. I worked in the morning, then did some writing and worked on some laundry and some cleaning. That’s usually my least favorite part of any day: laundry.
As much as I hate doing laundry there’s always something to be grateful for. Yes, even when doing laundry one can still practice gratitude. For example I am grateful that I have a washer and dryer in my house and that I don’t have to pay to use it. There was a time in my life when that was not the case. Not only did I have to pay to use the washer and dryer in my previous apartment but I also had to step outside to enter the basement where it was located. That’s what makes me grateful about being able to do laundry for free in my pajamas now. Even though I still hate it.
By mid afternoon I was sitting in my living room doing some writing. I looked over onto the floor and noticed there was A puddle of pee. My 14-month-old dog who is clearly not fully house trained yet had Peed on the floor. I have been trying for months to train her to only pee on the training pads in the bathroom or outside.I had been thinking to myself these last few days “she has been doing so well I haven’t seen any pee in any other parts of the house”. Well today I have found that she had been peeing on the floor in the living room, as I found dry pee near the spot where the puddle was. Besides being overcome with so much frustration I especially felt like I had failed as a dog mom. I have had her for a whole year now and I clearly haven’t succeeded in properly house training her. I felt like a true failure.
I know it sounds dramatic to feel like a failure because your dog pees on the floor. Of course it doesn’t mean I’m a failure, but I still felt like that because I had failed at teaching my dog to pee on the correct spot. I love my pets so much, and I must say this last year having a puppy has challenged my patience and perseverance in many ways. It’s not perfect by any means, but that’s what makes us a family, my furry family.
Page 6 – December 3rd, 2018 — Cloudy in the morning, then sunny 53F☁️☀️
I woke up feeling so depleted. It felt like a true Monday, and I don’t normally complain about Mondays. I felt so irritable. I was awoken by my dog crying in her crate, which is probably the only thing I like less than the sound of the alarm. I went to bed way too late the night before and definitely didn’t get enough sleep.
I rushed through planning my day, and left for work. Upon finishing my first meeting, I sat in my car and meditated for a few minutes. My goal was to shift my overall mental state from negative to positive. I finished meditating and thought “it doesn’t always work right away, I guess.” Then I opened my car window and let the outside air come in. It wasn’t frigid, for the first time in a while. The sun was shining and as I took a deep breath, I realized how lucky I was to be experiencing such beautiful weather in December. Somehow that lifted my spirits. I felt like the warm weather was warming up my heart and for the first time since I woke up I felt good.
Sometimes all it takes is just a moment of looking around and finding just one thing for which to be grateful.
Page 5 – November 10th, 2018 — Cloudy, then sunny 36F☁️☀️
Today is Saturday and I got to stay home all day and relax. I love having a free weekend when I get to sleep in and spend time with my husband. I just hung out in my robe (yes, I live in my robe during cold months) all morning watching a movie with him. Such mornings fill me with a sense of nostalgia, reminding me of how good it felt to wake up late and watch Saturday morning cartoons in my pjs as a kid. Why did it feel so good back then? And why does it still? Anyway, we didn’t watch cartoons but we did watch a classic movie from the early 90’s. I’m going to sound like an old person right now and say they don’t make movies like those anymore. It’s true.
This afternoon was one of the first of the season that I took a nap. Small victory, as I’ve been able to stay up all through the afternoon for days on end, especially during the week when I had stuff to do. But today, I couldn’t resist. I let myself doze off while watching tv and it was just what I needed. Don’t you just love the feeling of falling asleep when you’re really sleepy? I do.
I might have fallen asleep for maybe about an hour and a half or so. Then woke up and cleaned the house to host a couple friends for dinner.
Relaxing, productive and fun day.
PAge 4 – November 5th, 2018 — Cloudy, rainy, 46F🌧
I woke up this morning feeling ok. I wish I had woken up a bit earlier than 9:30, but I’ve been making a point to give myself at least 8 hrs of sleep each night, to try and avoid having to nap during the day, which usually screws up my sleep pattern. I had to work in the morning so I didn’t have enough time to do light therapy. 30 minutes is definitely not enough. Oh, AND yesterday was the end of daylight savings time, which is a sad sad day for me. This day marks the end of longer days, less daylight and to me, the official beginning of hell, I mean, winter. I know it sounds overly dramatic but, well, I guess I am overly dramatic at times. It just makes me soooo sad that it gets dark super early now. I know I’ve been through this every year, for ever, but still, I hate it.
I did sleep enough at night, but because I didn’t do light therapy for long enough this morning I was really groggy all day. It was so hard to focus on anything. I didn’t get everything I wanted to get done and I thought about taking a nap about 87 times through the afternoon.
It’s so interesting to analyze my thought process when I’m having a “foggy mind” day. I keep thinking to myself “I could take a quick nap, it would be ok. Just one delicious little nap can’t hurt. No! Stop it, there’s stuff to do, stay awake. But I’m so tired, I’ll just sleep for like 30 minutes. No, I can’t! Stay awake!” And this goes on for about 2–3hrs in the afternoon until I either am able to do something that energizes me a little bit, like an activity I enjoy and that can retain my attention or I drink some caffeine.
You see, the issue is that I can’t do light therapy to keep me awake that late in the day (after about 2pm) because it affects my sleep at night. The only way to avoid the mid/late-afternoon crash is to get 8 or more hours of sleep at night, then do about 2 hours of light therapy before noon. That strategy is efficient about 85% of the time during the darkest days.
And that’s my goal for tomorrow. Today I was able to keep myself awake by drinking chimarrão (caffeinated southern Brazilian tea-like drink) around 4:30/5pm. I’m afraid I might have drunk it too late in the day though, because it’s 12:31am and I’m still awake. Writing helps me fall asleep through.
Also, plan for tomorrow: yoga swing.
Hope I can do it.
Page 3 – October 23rd, 8pm — 56F cloudy, rainy, sunny🌧 🌥 🌈
Today was probably the first day I’ve woken up completely depleted this season. Last night and this morning I’ve felt overwhelmed with all the things I needed to do. There’s a lot on my plate and I woke up feeling like I can’t handle it all. The truth is I have no control over my brain chemistry, and sometimes the chemicals “arrange” themselves in such a way that it makes it very hard to feel good and have happy thoughts. Thankfully I’m a total pro at being depressed! (Wait, that sounds weird) I meant, I’m a total pro at recovering from depression! (That’s better) I’ve been doing this for so long that I’ve learned what helps and what doesn’t, and thankfully what helps, works almost every time.
So I dragged my butt out of bed, meditated, prepared some lemon water, did some journaling and light therapy and started feeling better little by little. I sat down to do my makeup and after a while realized “hey, I don’t look half bad. In fact I look pretty good.” —see, that’s the brain chemicals rearranging themselves. I reminded myself to not look at my perceived flaws, and appreciate my body, my face and my appearance, before passing judgment. Slowly that cloudy and rainy day turned into an afternoon that was filled with sunshine, both literally and figuratively.
When I was on my way to run some errands, I looked up at the sky and saw the most beautiful rainbow! I can’t remember when was the last time I had seen a rainbow. It filled my heart with joy and reminded me that no matter how bad I feel the moment I wake up, things always get better. Always. It may take a few minutes, hours and sometimes even a couple days, but there’s always a rainbow after the storm.
Page 2 – October 18th, 11pm — 40F Sunny and windy (during the day)☀
Today was a beautiful sunny day but it was one of the coldest so far as it was so windy! This morning I had a problem parking at my regular garage at work, and had to valet my car right at the building entrance. At first it was a pain in the ass but now that I think about it, I can’t help but feel like the universe made that happen as a way for me to not have to walk the two blocks from the garage in the cold as I forgot my jacket. Yes, the universe always has my back, even when things may seem like a minor inconvenience at the time. I’m so grateful it was sunny! It was such a busy and frustrating day for me, and I’m sure I would have been in a much worse mood we’re it cloudy or rainy. As much as I hate to admit it, the cold has already started affecting my productivity. I ran out of time to take the dogs for a walk this morning and I just couldn’t get myself to do it after I got home from work and was super tired. I always feel a little bit like a failure when that happens; still working on not feeling like that. Also, I didn’t use my sunlamp this morning and by about 7pm I was ready to go to bed. Passed out on the couch after eating an enormous burrito. Woke up an hour ago. Hope I can go to sleep now… wish me luck.
Solar Powered Person
Page 1 – October 16th, 7:30am - 44F Sunny ☀️
It was rainy and cloudy for several days, and yesterday I had a really hard time staying up throughout the entire day. It’s definitely time to start using my sunlamp again. I woke up before the sunrise this morning, to drink my lemon water and do some journaling. I just looked up the weather forecast today and it shows that it will be sunny all day! I’m so excited! I’m planning on taking the dogs out for a walk around the lake and enjoy the sunshine this afternoon!
This morning I had an easier time getting out of bed. It makes a big difference in my morning when I don’t struggle to get up.
I’m so grateful for every ray of sunshine!
Solar Powered Person