Sunday, March 19, 2006

Toward The Light

Last October I went away for a week to Lake Konstanz. It was a beautiful place. Unfortunately, while I was away, I progressively became slow and miserable. I had put this down to the pain I was in and the fact I had been unable to empty my bowell.

When I got home, apart from immediately emptying my bowell, I did not feel better at all. I got worse. I couldn't stay awake, felt slow and really down.

During a routine appointment with my GP, she said to me 'you are depressed again. I assumed you would be.'

She had mentioned to me that she thought I suffered from winter induced depression, during the winter of 2004 when i was severely depressed. She had known me 5 years by then. My friend, Karen, in Denmark, had also said the same to me. I was too depressed to really take note.(Whlist way in Lake Konstanz there had been no sunshine.)

However, this time, last October, Karen was forceful in reminding me of her opinion about my depression and again talked to me about getting a light. I still didn't do anything. A light? Sounded like new age crap to me. I had been down that route for years, one lame, expensive therapy after another, all amounting to nothing and leaving me feel stupid for being so gullible.

Then my Dr showed me my medical history over the last 30 years(the length of time I had been in the UK). It clearly showed that all my major illnesses and time spent in hospital had occurred during the winter months. In the spring and summer, there were no Dr visits-I was always manic then. Thus my diagnosis of Bi Polar Disorder. Only once was I hospitalised for mania .

I went home and researched on the net about Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD - terrible acronym!) At first, I only saw information provided by the sellers of the light boxes. The more I searched, I came across scientific articles on the subject. I read that lack of light can stop the pineal gland from working properly. It disturbed the production of melatonin and seratonin. It caused depression and sloth. It could also cause mania in Spring/Summer.

The pineal gland is the only organ, other than the eyes, that contains light cells.

I was almost convinced. I decided to buy a light box. For it to work, the strength has to be at least 10,000 lux. An ordinary daylight light bulb will NOT work!

I paid £300 for mine. It was the best £300 I have ever spent. Since the day it arrived, 4 months ago, I have not been depressed. This is the first winter since 1975 that i have not suffered from depression. And I sleep much better.

All I have to do is sit in front of this light for 20 minutes daily. That is it. No meds. Nothing else to it. (I might add here that 30 years of medications, loads of them, and not one of them did any good at all and most did a lot of harm.)

Of course I have had days when I don't feel great. Everyone does. I have days when I feel bad tempered and grotty because my physical pain is so bad. However, I have not once felt suicidal, nor have I wished to stay in bed or been so out of it, I couldn't function. As anyone who has experienced depression will know, the difference between depression and sadness or feeling pissed off is very marked. They are not the same at all. Depression is like living in black treacle. It is nothing like being in a bad mood.

Oh and one article suggested that people who had lived in climates where the sun shone all year around, suffered more so when moving to a climate where winter was experienced. That was me-I had moved from the tropics in 75.

Of course, solving this aspect of my difficulties is only part of the story. I would still have had serious problems because of my past and still do. However, depression is now not one of them. Thus I have more ability to deal with the other crap!
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