So in the myriad of things that happened last summer, I decided to go off of my (low-level) antidepressant. It was an atypical medication that took the edge off, but also took some of the anxiety from my existence, too. Weaning off was a horrible thing – I hope I never have to go on it again, because I know I don’t want to have withdrawal symptoms again. Icky. 😐
But this also means that this is the first winter in 4 years that I’ve been unmedicated. I didn’t realize exactly how much a lack of sunlight affects me, and became aware of it around Christmastime. And as Mark & I considered my past history, we realized that every year (no matter where we lived), I would begin a slow spiral downward in November. What happened in November? The loss of extra daylight with the end of Daylight Savings Time. Hmmm….
I also began to notice an unusual tendency towards wanting carbohydrates. This is pretty unusual for me, as meat and other forms of protein tend to be my staples, dietary-wise. I really couldn’t figure this out until I heard something on the radio – a doctor was saying that there is documented evidence that people who miss sunlight and its mood-boosting effects tend towards carbo-loading when the sun is absent in an attempt to boost serotonin levels. More hmmmm….
So that led me on a hunt for an artificial light source that would mimic sunlight for me. Initially, I only found ones that were $150 and up – and right now, that’s just not in the budget. Then I found a report that not only outlined the benefits of these devices, but had a link to one that was $50 at Amazon. w00t! I couldn’t swing $150, but I could swing $50. I investigated this and saw that if I didn’t like it (or it didn’t work), I could return it and get a refund for all except shipping (which was $5.36). I could take that gamble.
So I ordered the thing and waited not-so-patiently for it to arrive. The evening it did, I was scheduled to be up much later than normal, and I was already tired and somewhat cranky. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it out, so I fired it up and sat in front of it for about 20 minutes.
Oh. my. word.
It was the most bizarre thing in the world – JOY came bubbling up from somewhere inside of me. JOY I hadn’t felt since … gosh, I don’t know when. Since the last sunny day? Since I had last mowed the lawn & soaked up some rays? It wasn’t a tenuously happiness that is based on circumstance – it was real, abiding, and deep. Almost spiritual in nature. And coming from … a light box?
Yep. It sure-as-shootin’ works for me. And is worth every penny I paid for it – plus some. I can tell when I’ve forgotten to use it (I sit in front of it for a max of 45 minutes per day at full-strength) – I find myself rummaging around for sweets or starches that I normally don’t crave. And I’m less contented and vaguely more annoyed. Sometimes I feel downright *down* if I don’t use it, too. But when I do, it’s easy to have some popcorn, feel full, and stop eating – even if I’ve only had a small amount. It’s easier to get things done around here and “have a happy heart” (like we tell Brendan) when I’m doing them. It truly does make a difference for me.
I think I’ll use this thing even when the sun naturally reappears in the spring. Just as a boost – probably not as long as I use it now, but just a little bit and on days that are predicted to be cloudy or overcast. This thing has saved my bacon.