So. I've been doing a lot of thinking and researching as, once again, That Time Of Year has hit and I want/need to get to grips with it all so much sooner rather than later.
Some years ago I had a major depressive episode and came very close to being hospitalised. Apparently though, I wasn't considered ill enough to be admitted at the time and for that I am now hugely thankful, although at the time I didn't see things in quite the same light.
I was on anti-depressants for some years but with the help of many varied types of counselling (some helpful, some not so) and a hugely supportive Mr DF, I have been off the happy tabs for around 6 years.
It hasn't been plain sailing in those 6 years though. Every time I have an off day/week/month it's there in my head that this is the start of a slippery slope again and I am going to end up a weeping, wailing mess. Somehow though, I've muddled through without the aid of medication - mainly due, I think, to losing the weight through healthy eating and exercising. I've put nutritious food into my body and I exercise to get the lovely endorphins flowing and to get as much natural daylight on my face as possible.
So why can't I eat healthy and exercise well ALL the time? On a visit to the GP a while back (I'm talking 4 or 5 years maybe) he told me I had all the classic symptoms of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. And I accepted that without a murmur. The winter months have always been difficult for me as when I was very ill with depression then, as anybody who has suffered with it will know, Christmas is traditionally a time guaranteed to make you feel even worse as everybody around you seems so much happier and jolly. And, of course, Christmas falls slap bang in the middle of winter and so the association was made. When the GP said I was SAD it all seemed to make sense.
However, as I mentioned at the top, I've done some research and this is what I found (it's lengthy!)
"The symptoms of SAD usually recur regularly each winter, starting between September and November and continuing until March or April.
- Low mood, worse than and different from normal sadness
- Negative thoughts and feelings
- Guilt and loss of self-esteem
- Sometimes hopelessness and despair
- Sometimes apathy and inability to feel
- The need to sleep more
- A tendency to oversleep
- Difficulty staying awake during the day and/or disturbed sleep with
very early morning wakening
- Fatigue, often incapacitating, making it very difficult or impossible to carry out normal routines
- Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods leading to an increase in weight
- Difficulty with concentration and memory
- The brain does not work as well, or as quickly
- Finding it harder to be with people
- Stress is harder to deal with
- Less interest in sex and physical contact
- Sharp change in mood
- Some experience agitation and restlessness and/or a short period of
hypomania (over activity)
- No dramatic mood change but a gradual loss of winter symptoms
SAD symptoms disappear in spring, either suddenly with a short period (e.g. four weeks) of hypomania or hyperactivity, or gradually, depending on the intensity of sunlight in the spring and early summer.
In sub-syndromal SAD, symptoms such as tiredness, lethargy, sleep and eating problems occur, but depression and anxiety are absent or mild.
Having suffered a major depressive episode I know what it feels like to have negative thoughts and feelings and to be full of despair - feelings that I don't have to any great extent right now. I do have most of the other symptoms, the lethargy, lack of concentration,