Musing on food and cooking ...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

No Wonder I Am SAD

Four years ago this very week, I underwent gastric bypass surgery. And while I have mixed feelings about my surgery, I have to say that one positive thing came out of it. I discovered that I have a Vit D deficit that leads to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

From the time I was in my early teens, I suffered horribly with depression, often striking me in the winter. I was treated with everything from counseling to interesting drug cocktails, including one doctor who put me on both Paxil and Xanax. Great fun that was. I really enjoyed the visual hallucinations of giant winged needles flying around my bedroom! I was even diagnosed at one point as bipolar because my moods were cyclical and as dysthymic, because I was mostly down all the time. I was also told that I was depressed because I was fat, because of course fat people hate themselves or should hate themselves. Blah blah blah.

And then I moved to the East Coast and I didn't get depressed as often. So something was up. Something was different.

Anyway, when I was preparing for my surgery, I underwent almost 6 months of a variety of testing, including undergoing counseling, where we talked about my battles with depression among other things. They also pulled enough blood out of me to feed a vampire. I mean, 7 of the largest possible sample tubes ever 3 months, at the least. And one of the many tests they ran was vitamin levels. And low and behold, my doctor says, "You have low Vit D. I see here you have depression. Bet you had major problems in the winter when you lived in the Midwest. You have Seasonal Affective Disorder, seasonal depression caused by Vit D deficit, Vit D, which you get from the sun." Well, yes, Ms. Doctor, I did. Very much so. So my doctor advised me to run to the CVS and get a Vit D supplement (dry, 400 IU) and take one tablet daily from November until the end of March. And my depression went almost entirely away. There were still occassional moments of SAD in the deepest, darkest parts of winter and some situational depression, but nothing that felt overwhelming and destructive.

And then, in 2006, I moved back to the Midwest. The first winter was not too awful. I did have to double my Vit D, but I got through it and I felt ok. And then there is the winter of 07-08.

And I am SAD. Very SAD. So SAD I have been thinking of quitting my job and moving to Florida, which is pure insanity, as I loathe Florida. And no damn wonder I am SAD! According to WGN weather, this year has been a damn bad year. We have seen the sixth snowiest winter since they started keeping records 124 years ago. and the heaviest snow months are still coming The Chicago area normally receives 43% sunlight during the winter. This year? a lousy 21%. And the kicker? Since February began, we have only seen 11 minutes of actual sunlight. 11 minutes since the beginning of February. For people with SAD, it is recommended that they get at least 10-15 minutes of exposure to sunlight a day.


So, Dear Readers, know the I am SAD. And that I am struggling through it. And saving up to get a light box. Because I don't like feeling this way. I can't watch the news without crying like a baby. I cry during movies like Titanic, I am ashamed to admit. I don't think clearly and I tend to embrace escapism. And as the depression deepens, I start to hurt all over my body. So bear with me. It will all be ok eventually. You don't have to try and fix it. Just be nice and listen to me if I need to vent. And if you know somewhere I can go that is a cheap activity that might involve some sort of Vit D producing light, let me know, so I can get my fix.


Brave Sir Robin said...


I, myself tend to have a bit of the SAD, but I have never been told about the Vitiman D connection.

I do, however live in an area with a bit more sunlight than you do.

Do full spectrum light bulbs work?

Hang in there Heather, spring is coming.

Little Merry Sunshine said...

I have been contemplating moving to Florida too (and I LOATHE Florida as well). I knew we'd been short on sunlight, but I had no idea it was that bad. UGH.

I hate to suggest this (because I think they're kinda icky), but have you thought about going to a tanning bed? I don't mean to get tan, but I would think it is similar to having a light box. I wouldn't go all the time, but give it a shot once.

Lindsay said...

Why not pay a visit to the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. It doesn't quite solve the Vitamin D problem but if you close your eyes, you feel like you're in a rainforest. Plants always cheer me up....

seventh sister said...

Maybe watching some really funny movie will help. and you know,there are other places besides Florida that get a lot of sun if it comes to moving again.

Jenn said...

go get your shot! it will help!