Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka: SAD).
The Winter Blues.
Whatever you like to call it…I’m suffering from it. Literally.
I’ve never felt this way before. I don’t know if it’s just that in the past my winters haven’t been this extreme as far as weather and such…but it’s hit me hard this year. I feel miserable…constantly. It’s a mental state, I know…but it seems very little is dragging me out of these blues. At first I thought it was that I was coming off the high and the excitement of Disney and the Dopey Challenge. But this has gone beyond that. This has skirted into an every day thing. Even activities I enjoy doing aren’t bringing me the satisfaction and joy that they normal do.
And it hurts. Knowing that I feel off, but can’t figure out how to “fix” myself…hurts.
So, what might have brought this on? Well…less peppy moods are common in the winter…but what’s hit me hard this year is the bitter cold temperatures, the crazy winter weather, the lack of sunshine…it’s more than the winter blahs this time. Sunny days in winter are a gift, and between October and March…I don’t see very many of them. With the shorter days, and the daylight hours spent in a windowless cube in my office…I don’t get much sunshine to chase away these blues.
How do I know it’s SAD? My symptoms are classic and fall right into step with those of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
As of late, I have had this insatiable craving for sweets and starchy food. Even more so…the need to eat peanut butter…ALL.THE.TIME. Seriously. It’s my go-to sweet snack. And my major stress-eating food. And I want chocolate more than I usually do. I crave those comfort foods…those foods that are to be treats and not major eats. But I just can’t make these cravings stop. They hound me…in the morning…that’s when I find it the hardest to fight the cravings. Because I’m waking up and my body is telling me it wants to eat. The problem is…when I give in…it’s food that my body doesn’t need. But that is what it wants. And there is no one there to tell me to take a breath, drink some water, and relax. It’s just me…and my cravings…and my mind isn’t strong enough to fight them.
You might recall in previous postings that I mentioned weight gain (this MIGHT be linked to my cravings for sweets and starches)…not being at my ideal marathon weight like I was for Chicago. Well…that comes with SAD as well. Weight gain isn’t at all uncommon when it comes to SAD. And it’s a never-ending battle these days for me. Not that I really need to worry all that much…but it just…nags at my runner brain. I want to make sure I maintain my fitness through winter…and that isn’t easy to do.
Fatigue and a noticeable drop in energy. No pep in my step. I actually drag my feet when I’m trying to get moving and get going. When my roomie is up and ready before I am…there is a problem. That’s a complete role reversal. And I just can’t seem to fix that level either. I try…but it’s not working. Part of this might be that my sleeping is WAY off. I’m restless…I toss and turn…I wake up constantly. It’s a battle for me to stay asleep at night…or get the right amount of sleep…at the right level. I never fall into a deep sleep these days. I go to bed earlier…and I just toss and turn. It’s doing me no good at all. Then…what’s worse is I now am not wanting to get out of bed. I’m not motivated. The Achilles Tendonitis has meant scaling back my activity levels…and in my head, I say, “Well…it’s not like you have to get up to fit in that run…” But it’s not just that either. Even on off days when I’m not scheduled for anything, I find myself switching off my alarm and just curling back up in my blankets. I’m not falling asleep, I just feel no real motivation to get up and get going. I’d rather just lay there. Lay there and do nothing…instead of getting up and accomplishing something. Even if it is really just a simple task like making breakfast. This morning, it took me forever to get motivated to get out of bed. I just didn’t want to get up. It started to snow. The wind was howling. I didn’t want to move. I finally counted to three and pushed myself out of the bed, so I could drive to Kroger and get a few items. But it took a lot of convincing. Then…breakfast (easy breakfast) took all the rest of the morning for me to prepare. I had no real speed behind anything I was doing. My roommate was awake and I hadn’t even put the frozen waffles (don’t judge…it’s one of those days!) in the oven.
Lately, I’ve had a difficult time remaining focused on tasks both at work and at home. I’m in fog of sorts. This is SO not like me. I’m irritable. Little things set me off. Or nothing. The other night I just started crying. For no reason. I just started to cry. I felt hopeless and empty. And when my roommate asked what was wrong, I said, “I don’t know. I have no idea!” It was the truth. And this happens almost every day right now. I’m at a loss. I feel lost. I don’t get excited about things that I used to get pumped up about. I’m drifting…and I’m alone.
And I’m SAD.
So what can be done?
I’m making myself get outside whenever I can…especially if it’s sunny. I’m trying to stay active, even if my body fights it. That’s not always easy given since returning to the cold weather in the area after beautiful weather in Florida…my Achilles has been bugging me more than ever. But…activity does help. Even if I’m moving at the speed of SLUG.
And…hugs from friends…kind words from friends…and all the support I’m getting as I battle through this winter has been more helpful than ever. I am so thankful for my friends, who make it a point to check in on me, to make me smile, to make me feel better. That’s a true gift in this life and I count myself to be a very lucky girl.
Let me say this…I’m ready for Spring. Because this winter has been very hard on me, physically and mentally. And I am ready for a break. And some sunlight and short sleeves! And a nice cleansing long run. With friends. Friends who make me laugh and do goofy, fun, spontaneous things. Yeah…that’s the best medicine…