Saturday, April 21, 2007

Illumination


This is what has been happening lately. It is the symbol of a new start for me -- and the confirmation of something I have suspected for years.

Since I was in college I have suspected I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. When Rob and I got married we looked into therapy lights. But they were a thousand bucks and there wasn't much research on whether they were effective. And they cost a thousand bucks. So no therapy light.

At the end of March I realized that I was not well. Not well in terms of keeping up with household tasks, making meals, or ordinary stuff. But also not well in terms of not reading, not scrapbooking or doing other creative things, not mired in do-it-yourself household projects, not planning stuff.

And then there was the whole lack of "give a damn." It was bad. A shower seemed like a monumental task. One night it took me hours to cook a meal for friends. It was supposed to be shrimp scampi. But I forgot the garlic and the lemon. Hel-LOoooooooo. I couldn't focus. Couldn't concentrate. Hadn't had a decent night's sleep in months.

It is so funny (funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha) how depression sneaks up on you. It's sly. It's insidious. It makes you question your own judgment: "Am I depressed?" "No, of course not. You just need to pick yourself up. Stop whining. There are lots of people who have a reason to be depressed. You? You're just being ungrateful. Honestly. Just look at your life. Why would you be depressed? Healthy kids, happy marriage, cute dog, shiny minivan ...." and so on.

But you know what? Sometimes you are just depressed. Sometimes it is not your fault. Depression is not a character flaw. It is an illness. Recognizing that other people do indeed have it worse than you does not lessen your pain.

And so I had a meltdown. Huge. On a night that (not that I could possibly have known) was about the worst night possible for me to have a meltdown. My poor mother. But she talked me down off the ledge, and I felt better because I had at least confessed to how I was feeling.

The next day I called for an appointment and our most wonderful and kind family doc made room in a crowded schedule because he knew this could not wait. And he was right. After a conversation, a series of questions, and a quiz (sample question: Do you find it difficult to make decisions? ___All of the time ____Some of the time _____Occasionally ____Never. After I spent 5 minutes trying to decide on an answer I saw the irony. LOL) he diagnosed me with Seasonal Affective Disorder and prescribed meds and light therapy.

The sun is here now. I use my light for half an hour a day and I may get to a point this summer where I don't need it because the normal sunlight I get will be enough.

But I can't express how precious it is to me that I am not terrified of the winter and the darkness anymore. I have a way to fight them. I will fight this battle, and I will win. I will live life, I will be a mom, I will be a wife, I will be a friend. I will not let it destroy who I am.

To all of you who sent notes, called, left comments, and lifted me up, thank you. You helped me see it, too. And I knew there were people who cared.

It was a long, hard winter. But the sun is here. I am climbing up out of that dark hole on a ladder made of good thoughts and wishes, one little pill a day for at least another month, and a little box of blue light. Amen.

4 comments:

  1. Susan9:28 PM

    (((YOU)))

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  2. Anonymous9:16 AM

    Welcome back my lovely daughter! Keep the light shining and I truly am not your "poor mother" - with you in my life, I am rich beyond measure! Love, Mom

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  3. WOw--- I know how serious that is. Paul's uncle suffers from it. He didn't buy a sun lamp though... he bought a vacation home in Florida :)
    Thinking of you always....

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  4. Anonymous12:26 AM

    this makes me feel hopeful for myself. thanks jennifer.

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