but at least I’m progressing in the clutter clearing department. A bit. Slow going as it is.
The big problem I have at this time of the year is seasonal affective disorder. All of Finland is above the 60th parallel, and this time of the year it gets dark. Daylight lasts about six hours, and whether it can really be called ‘daylight’ is debatable, it’s more like a three hour morning twilight changing into a three hour evening twilight, and since it tends to be also overcast around this time there really isn’t much light to be seen.
The worst problem with SAD, at least for me, is that I lose my ability to concentrate. I have been writing, but it’s very slow going, sometimes I can produce only a few hundred words a day, sometimes not even that. I will probably get the novel ready sometime in the first part of next year, but that will be perhaps around the end of February.
One thing it doesn’t seem to affect much is painting and drawing, those I have been able to do almost as well as during any other part of the year. Perhaps, in the future, I will dedicate the darkest months solely to that, and do all my writing on the other parts of the year, 3 months just painting and 9 months mostly writing. Might work.
Besides not being able to concentrate much I’m also sleepy, and I crave sweet stuffs. I can do completely without sweets most of the year, I don’t eat them and I don’t miss them, but now I’m daydreaming about ice cream and pastries and chocolate, and have succumbed a few times too. Also everything else that gives you a quick blood sugar raise, like rice, breads, potatoes, and to those temptations I have fallen a bit more often than to the sweets. I’m borderline type 2 diabetic so that is really a rather bad idea… I will probably gain a few kilos during these months again, and that’s something I really couldn’t afford. And besides that I shouldn’t be eating breads anyway, I seem to be somewhat sensitive to gluten grains, while I shouldn’t have the celiac disease – at least according to the blood test – they do give me digestive problems if I do eat them more than very occasionally, and sometimes even something like once a month sandwich may do that. Shouldn’t do even that, I suppose, but have you ever tried to find something cheap to eat while out which does not have some form of grains in it? So yep, sometimes I do end up buying something like a grilled sandwich or small hamburger on those occasions.
Well, less than a week to go until winter solstice, and after that about a month before I will start to notice the increasing light. Depending a bit on the weather, if there are lots of sunny days the beginning of February starts to give some noticeable relief, if it’s mostly overcast it may take a few weeks longer.
There are some ways to ease the symptoms. I have a daylight lamp which I do use, but perhaps not quite as much as I should since the light can give me problems too, bright light seems to be one of the triggers which give me migraine auras. I don’t usually get the actual headache, but I do see those damn auras, and have most of the other symptoms connected to migraines.
Some supplements seem to help too. Vitamin D3 in very large doses is one. With it I take K2 since there seem to be claims that large doses of D can cause problems like hardening of arteries but taking vitamin K at the same time should eliminate most of those. I also use fish oil. I used to get the SAD symptoms bad, there was about a decade and a half when I was mostly nearly completely useless for anything during about three months every year – I did work, but could do only simple menial stuff like paper routes or cleaning, and then I’d sleep most of time I wasn’t working. There were times when I was doing only paper routes which took about four to five hours a day, and then I could sleep up to 14 or 15 hours, and I would still feel sleepy most of the time I was awake. With the lamp and the supplements things are not nearly that bad. I still sleep more, but most times it’s only an hour or two more than during the summers, I have problems concentrating but I can do that, not as well as the rest of the year but at least to some extent, and while I do feel more down now than during the summers I get nowhere as bad as I used to – I was diagnosed, several times, as having moderate depression, a couple of times bordering on severe, before one doctor noticed that those depressive episodes only seemed to happen during the winter.
If I had known what the problem was when I was still young I would have done my damnedest to move somewhere closer to the equator. I dropped out of university due to this, I have spend most of my life living on those badly paying and boring menial jobs due to this, and besides the practical problems it causes having depression just isn’t exactly fun, whatever its reason the symptoms are pretty much the same. But SAD was ‘found’ during the 80’s, and for me it took until the end of 90’s before I knew what the problem with me was, for sure, and even after that several years before I found the best ways to deal with it. Maybe I should be happy that at least I was born in the era when that particular problem was discovered, a few decades earlier and I would have spend my whole life just being labeled lazy or indolent, or maybe as having a weak character, or possibly depressed, but I have to admit that the whole thing, finding out what and why and what to do only when in my late 30’s, still irks me. And I did get quite a few of those ‘weak character’ and ‘indolent’ comments from some people, still do at times since not everybody is willing to believe that yes, some people really can react to lack of light that badly. Especially since while mild winter blues happens with lots of people symptoms as bad as mine really are quite rare.
One of the minorities I belong to. Others being: I’m left-handed, I have AB- blood and high enough IQ that I was accepted to Mensa. Lefties seem to be thought to be about 10 to 15 %, AB negatives 1 %, Mensa membership qualified 2 % and people who can get severe SAD symptoms, I think, about 2 % of the population. 🙂
Okay, next time some drawings. I should get that post up in a couple of days.