Do you suffer from S.A.D? Part 1

Photo by Issam Hammoudi on Unsplash

So far this year there have been two distinctive universal laws that I have learnt about and how they directly apply to my life:

  1. The Law of Process
  2. The Law of Cycles

I wasn’t intending to talk about the law of Process in great detail but as I have written this post I have realised that both are interconnected like most things in life. The law of Process is essentially about honouring every stage of every process that we go through, in work, relationships, careers, projects and life, they are all valid and are all essential parts of the bigger picture, no matter how insignificant they may feel, whether they are painful, challenging, upsetting, joyful, ecstatic, orgasmic and or boring as hell, we can’t avoid any of them and must embrace them all.

The Law of Cycles

The law I wanted to focus on was the law of Cycles and how it has helped me to reflect on my daily, weekly, monthly and yearly existence.

Specifically it has enabled me to recognise that at this time every year as the clocks go forward and as the sun goes down each day, so does my mood.

In the evenings I become depressed, irritable, argumentative, I lose my libido and the vibrant energy and excitement that I felt just weeks earlier as the summer came to an end, I can feel slipping away.

Last year I went through the same cycle, it was also the first year of my marriage and when the weather got dark and I changed into ‘Winter Adam’, we started to have lots of problems in our relationship. I became less affectionate and pushed my wife away, after 6 months of this we were very close to calling it a day and were questioning why we had even bothered to get married in the first place.

Then Spring arrived, the days were lighter along with my mood and then we had the Summer of Summers, with day after day of relentless sunshine and heat, and I bloody loved it and so did our relationship, I never complained once of the long hot sweaty days because I had longed for them through out the long dark winter.

I managed to make amends to my wife for my ‘Winter Self’, but just got there in the nick of time before our relationship crumbled, we fell back in love again and had a great few months, until recently when the clocks went forward.

Almost like clockwork my mood changed, I started to crave leaving the house each day and when it started getting dark in the evenings I became depressed, irritable and started snapping at my wife again, ‘Winter Adam’ was starting to creep in and takeover the show.

Luckily having gone through the same process last year I have been able to observe a pattern and a cycle going on inside me. I also realised that every Spring I find myself saying ‘I feel myself again’ and I’ve know for a few years that my Dad suffers from the condition, so I should have known really.

I have now read into it and decided to speak out openly about suffering from S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) to help dispel some of the embarrassment people may feel in coming forward and admitting to something that feels and seems so insignificant that they shouldn’t be complaining about, little did I know that it is officially recognised as a form of depression and a mental health issue.

From what I have gathered the main causative factors are:

  • Lack of light
  • Disruption of body clock
  • Low serotonin levels
  • High melotonin levels
  • Other issues – Trauma, illness, medication, diet change, alcohol or drug use.

I have definitely identified the lack of light as my main trigger, as it has the effect of reducing stimulus to part of the brain called the Hypothalamus, which reduces the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the happy hormone) and controls sleep, appetite, sex drive, temperature, mood and activity, if the light stops then so do these activities.

So there are three main options as I see it for me to improve the condition and to prevent the cascade of negativity that it brought into my life last year:

1. Go on holiday

The holiday will have to wait for now as this time of year can also be a bit of struggle with personal training after the August drought and then with Christmas coming cash flow is low, which adds to the problem, so doing a runner to South America unfortunately is not an option this year.

2. Buy a light lamp

I have just purchased this awesome light lamp from amazon and I am currently on Day 2, from the reviews it sounds like a good 7 days of 30 minutes to 2 hours light exposure is needed to start feeling the effects. But I was noticeably calmer, more relaxed and had a much lighter mood in the evening on Day 1. It’s Day 2 today and I have had an awesome day, my energy has been great, I’ve had one of those days when you attract people to talk to you because of your energy and mood, so something is happening, it’s just started getting dark now as I’m writing this post so fingers crossed this light more joyful feeling will continue throughout the evening and the season.

Click here to buy on Amazon…

So my new morning routine consists of a 10 minute meditation sitting in front of the lamp (you are supposed to have the eyes open to feel the full benefits), I then read for 30 minutes in front of the lamp glancing at it occasionally to suck in and absorb that lovely light and I then leave it on next to my laptop as I work for a couple of hours.

3. Take 5HTP

5-HTP is the precursor to serotonin, the neurotransmitter that improves mood and happiness. 5-HTP is a simple way to increase brain serotonin levels and can be taken in supplemental form.

Before I start taking 5HTP I want to give the lamp a good week of use first, so that I can assess its effect and my progress, rather than throwing too many things at the problem all at once and not being able to see what’s working most effectively.

Why does it Happen?

Thanks to my understanding of both the laws of Process and Cycles it has enabled me to honestly reflect on what’s been going on in my life.

Without having gone through the same CYCLE last year, I wouldn’t have been able to identify whats been going on recently, so you could say last year was actually all part of the PROCESS that I needed to go through to work things out and here I am.

We as a species are moving further and further away from nature and the cycles within it, which also means that we are moving away from our own inner cycles and rhythms, because we are not separate from nature, we are part of nature, as much as we try to beat it and lord over it, we are it.

We have created a world around us that is relentless, increasingly run by machines that don’t need to be turned off, enabling us to enjoy everything, all day every day, all week every week, all year every year without rest or reduction.

Unfortunately this planet has seasons, governed by the position of the sun, with most living things needing sunlight to function, but also requiring periods of darkness to rest and re-energise. Yet we expect the same level of productivity and energy in the Winter as we are able to produce in the Summer, even though we have less daylight hours, more darkness, colder temperatures and less energy in general, at least in this part of the world we do.

In the ideal world we would be naturally working with the annual cycles and seasons, reducing activity and stress in the winter, allowing for more rest and recuperation, working with natures cycles rather than against them, animals do it, it’s called hibernation.

In the Spring we would then start increasing activity as the daylight hours and temperatures increase, along with our ability to be more productive and happy.

Why do we forget who and what we are so easily?

Watch this Space

I will write another part to this blog as I progress and find out what seems to be working for me.

I hope this blog might help other people who suffer from S.A.D or those of you who hadn’t worked it out yet, it is a serious issue so be honest about it and start working out ways that you can improve your life and happiness this winter.

You are not going mad, you are not alone and there is a very real and logical reason why these kinds of illnesses are becoming more common place in our society.

Peace Out and Plant Power

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ps. If you’re interested in learning more about the laws that govern you, then check out this great book, you may at first find it a bit woo woo but stick with it, you will get answers and insights that blow your mind!

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