When Spring Didn’t Come

Spring-snow-flowers-daffodil1_-_West_Virginia_-_ForestWanderThis spring, it seems like winter is never going to let go! As I sit here using my lightbox, I wonder when can I start tapering off using it each morning? I use the light box to help keep my circadian rhythm in tune with the rest of the world. Otherwise, especially in Winter with my tendency toward Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder (i.e. extreme night person!), I would not sleep at night and be useless during the day.

With more natural light in the warm months along with more opportunities to be outside, I don’t need to use the lightbox every day. I usually taper off sometime in the spring, typically by the beginning of June and then start again in mid-September.

Spring usually brings more energy, you know, that feeling we used to call “run naked through the woods”. Not that we did, but it was a pretty good description of the feeling. [There used to be a TV show called Northern Exposure. One episode was about the annual spring “bull” run through town. Yes, could relate to the feeling!]. Maybe the feeling has a theme song like the song “Here comes the Sun” by the Beatles. The urge to get outside, to throw open the windows and clean out the dust of winter (see “AT for Spring Cleaning!)

Except one year when spring didn’t come. Well that is, outside the birds returned and flowers bloomed and the days got longer, but inside me, it was missing. Actually the lack of the “run naked through the woods” feeling made me even more depressed.

sad

This was more than SAD. For those of you who have had major depression, you know. It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t been there. I’d get advice like “It’s a beautiful day, get outside, open the blinds, you’ll feel better.” So I’d try and the contrast between the Spring outside and the darkness inside me simply made me feel worse.

“April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” – T.S. Elliot

Did you know, contrary to a common belief, suicide rates don’t peak during the winter holidays. They are highest in the spring and fall.

If you have SAD and use a lightbox and find you can’t taper off in the Spring as usual, please reach out and get some help. There’s apparently something called “reverse SAD”. However, it’s also possible that something more than SAD is going on. Depression is a life threatening condition and not to be taken lightly. Please take care of yourselves and of each other!

Author: Kathryn Wyeth

Kathryn Wyeth started working at MDRC in the summer of 1994. She's worked with the Michigan Assistive Technology Program since the fall of 1997 and is currently the AT Team Leader.

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