Carry Your Summer Sunshine into the Fall / Winter Darkness

Guest Blog by Yasmin Coleman of APOOO Book Club:

“SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is REAL”

Have you ever wanted to turn right but your spirit/conscious told you to turn left? That’s how I feel this morning. As this is so not the topic–Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that I intended to blog about this morning. But when I sad down to blog…here’s what came out:
When the weather starts to change…it affects me more than I care to admit. I have to really work at not getting depressed from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Lots of things have been on my mind for the last few weeks…and I haven’t really shared much of it with anyone…not even my closest friends…because I know that they’re going through it as well…and while misery loves company…sometimes you don’t need to seek it. But sometimes it’s okay to seek out a doctor, therapy and even medication…because sometimes its needed. 
It’s funny how yesterday I mentioned SAD in my online group and just by mentioning that little three letter word several other folks spoke up and talked about how this time of year they start to feel blue…one person even mentioned clinically depressed. I know that feeling as I’ve been there. I also have a girlfriend who’s great-aunt almost committed suicide because of SAD. As such, I know that this disease is REAL and that no one should tell you it is not. If you experience feelings of depression, fatigue, and irritability that come at the same time each year and appear to be seasonal in nature, you may have a form of SAD. 
SAD doesn’t discriminate and it can creep up on any of us when we least expect it. Including those of us who are strong, independent, can-do-it-all-by-ourselves and Got God.
Symptoms of SAD vary from the very mild to the very severe…but nevertheless the symptoms are real and should NOT be discounted.

People with SAD have many of the normal signs of depression, including:
  • decreased levels of energy
  • difficulty concentrating
  • fatigue
  • increase in appetite
  • increased desire to be alone
  • increased need for sleep
  • weight gain
Of course, there are some things you can do to prevent SAD from occurring or not becoming such a debilitating experience:

If you have been diagnosed with SAD, here are some things you can do to help prevent it from coming back:
  • Try to spend some amount of time outside every day, even when it’s very cloudy. The effects of daylight are still beneficial.
  • Begin using a light box when fall starts, even before you feel the effects of winter SAD.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, including sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals as recommended by the FDA. This will help you have more energy even though your body is craving starchy and sweet foods.
  • Try exercising for 30 minutes a day, three times a week.
  • Stay involved with your social circle and regular activities. Social support is extremely important for those with mood disorders, especially during winter months.
NOTE: Most folks think that SAD doesn’t occur until December…that’s not true…it starts in September as the days start to get shorter…which is why so many of us might be feeling out of sorts right now. But, remember we can do something about it just by following the simple tips above. 
Know the signs of SAD…if you or a loved one has more than an occasional blue day…don’t just think you can pray it away. My mother died 5 years ago and that coupled with SAD took me into a serious depression. There were mornings when I would wake up and thought…”I’m still here.” During the day, I would wish that I could just take my head off and sit it on a shelf. The biggest problems for me were LACK OF SLEEP…does anyone know what goes through your mind and how it shapes your actions when you’ve gone for DAYS without sleep? If you don’t know, I hope you never do. 
I’m not saying that prayer doesn’t work, but sometimes prayer alone is NOT enough and no one should be ashamed to seek out professional attention. Because the life you save could be your own. Fortunately, I had a friend, who’s a counselor by trade, and she CALLED me because I was so heavy on her heart that day. Because of her keeping me on the phone most of that day, until my next door neighbor came home and later Rick, is why I believe I’m alive today. I thank God for bringing this individual into my life…and I hope that each of you has a friend who can see beyond their needs to help you with yours. (NOTE: Remember friendship is a TW0-WAY exchange and it’s about giving and not just taking.)
Everyone have a great day and remember if you have SAD it’s okay to seek out your doctor for help. In fact, I recommend you do. And, in the meantime, remember to get PLENTY OF SUNSHINE. Take brisk walks everyday that you can and on the days that you can’t get out during the fall/winter…get a UV lamp. These two things will help you…and you will be GLAD that you did them.
PS–Just so I can bring this matter back to BOOKS…here’s a few reference books on the subject:
Winter Blues, Everything You Need to Know to Beat About Seasonal Affective Disorder by Norman Rosenthal, MD
If You Think You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder by Taylor Clifford, MD
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