JLLopez1006 is the creator, writer, and designer of the online blog My Life as a Zombie, a blog for those that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)– those who understand. Likewise, the blog is also for those that are lucky enough not to suffer from S.A.D.– those who do not understand, but seek to. Her blog was started to increase awareness and understanding of S.A.D., as well as to be part of a support system available to those who suffer.
JLLopez1006 is self-employed as a Freelance Writer and Blogger. After being self-diagnosed, she was professionally diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder in Spring 2008, and counts it as a blessing every time that she survives another northern United States winter.
This is the second installment of Fighting the Good Fight jllopez Guest Post giving you tips on how to deal with S.A.D. I trust the previous post was helpful for you as it was for me! I am very honored to have her as my guest here on my lil blog, thank you so much jllopez! So, here goes!
- Supplement for lack of natural light— Even if you get natural light, you may still need to supplement with artificial light. Choose a light that simulates sunlight and is designed to treat S.A.D. A regular light will not do the trick. Use it in the morning to start your day off right, or in the late afternoon or evening to keep yourself awake and going. If you have insurance and have been professionally diagnosed with S.A.D., check with your insurance provider to see if they will cover the cost of a light box in lieu of prescription antidepressants or regular light therapy visits. I was able to do this—I just had to have my therapist write a prescription for the light, and my insurance covered the cost in full.
- Keep shades to a minimum—I am speaking about two types of shades here. First, when you get out and it is sunny, remember that you need the light to reach your eyes. Wearing shades may block the light. I choose to forgo sunglasses for the sake of treatment during the winter. Though I cannot speak on the long-term effects of doing so in regards to cataracts or damage to the eye, I do know that when you use a light box, the light must go into your eyes, so I apply the same concept with natural light. Second, when in your home or office, keep window shades, blinds, or curtains to a minimum by opening them during the day. You will get some added natural light, plus you will save money by heating up your space naturally and not having to turn on so many lights.
- Take a vacation from S.A.D.—If you are able, it is recommended to take a vacation to somewhere that receives more natural sunlight (think south) to help break up the long winters. I have done so at the end of March for a couple of years, and it helps me to get through the time when my collective sun deficit is at its worst. One word of caution, though: Coming back to where you live may cause a dramatic “let-down.” I heard one story told of a woman who did the same thing, came back to her home in Europe, was unable to deal with her situation after a dramatic “letdown,” and she ended up committing suicide. Though this is an extreme example, I have experienced a similar effect, so please be prepared for the possibility, and do not let it take you by surprise. If the reaction is strong, make sure to get help.
- Get a little help—I used to just deal with the overwhelming fatigue on my own. More recently, I have learned to take supplements and use caffeine in order to help myself through this time. Bananas are supposed to be helpful in treating S.A.D., in addition to Vitamin D. You may be able to find vitamins that specialize in providing added energy. As long as they are not harmful, don’t feel shy to use things that can help you get through winter.
- Keep yourself busy—Though I know some people choose to reduce their workload during winter, I have found that getting involved with activities that I like helps to keep my mind off of the long winter days. In particular, working from home in a creative field has allowed me to stay productive in a therapeutic way. Try to find activities, whether work-related or leisure, that help to pass the time. The key is to stay busy, but do not overload yourself or force yourself to do things that will only exacerbate your S.A.D. Stress can be a contributing factor to causing a breakdown due to S.A.D., so you should avoid it as much as possible. In addition, staying busy with activities that you enjoy can help to keep your brain sharp as you fight the mental fog that S.A.D. often brings.
The mentioned methods are just some of the ones that I personally use to survive winter as someone who is fairly severely affected by S.A.D.
Please note that I am not a medical professional, and it is always recommended that you consult a doctor or therapist prior to attempting any form of self-treatment.
Likewise, what works for me may differ from what works for you, so it is a good idea to figure out what helps you to make it through the day.
Learning what works for me has helped me to get back to being a fairly normal and functional person in spite of the winter season. Before I was diagnosed, I was a mess, barely able to get by in life. Now that I know what I am dealing with, I am able to handle it more effectively. When it comes to surviving Seasonal Affective Disorder, knowledge is truly power.
Don’t forget to visit My Life as a Zombie and give some comment-luv to my special guest!! Thank you!