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November 21, 2013: Seasonal Affective Disorder

One month until December 21, when the light again begins to return. And it’s two months until January 21, when there will again be as much light as there is today. The hardest part (for me) about living in Alaska is the absence of light in the winter. I can handle cold, I can handle snow, I can handle wind. But I don’t do well with diminishing sunshine.

I suspect that I seasonal affective disorder, or a variation thereof. I also suspect that I’m autistic, or have a variation thereof. But that’s the subject for another dispatch. I have, in the past, had the hardest time in the evening. I begin, shortly after sunset, feeling claustrophobic. More specifically, I start to feel panicky around 5 p.m.; this is

upon realizing that it’s dark and going to remain dark until I go to bed. At times, I feel like clawing at the sky, so as to let some light in.

I decided this year to do something about this. I wasn’t sure what, so I didn’t have set ideas. I figured I’d just keep doing what seems to work. One thing I did not do was get some of those
Seasonal Affective Disorder lights. Somehow, the idea of sitting under those things brings to mind an image of a goldfish in an aquarium; too artificial for me. I did begin taking massive amounts of vitamin D about a month ago, after the nurse practitioner at Integrated Health recommended this. 50,000 of anything is, in my mind, a staggering amount of anything. But it has made me feel a bit more energized. So some days, when I am feeling up I take 10 to 20,000 IUs.

I’m also getting outside every day now, and for extended periods of time. This is to both walk the dogs and to ride. This is working out well. As for scheduling my writing time – I’ve taken to writing in the evenings. I most like writing in the mornings, but am now forcing myself to burn the candle at both ends. I’m not as near creative or imaginative in the evenings, but I bang out the prose because otherwise it won’t get done near as quickly.

Gosh, the above sounds incredibly self-righteous, as in “I have come up with a solution to a common problem and my solutions will be of use to you because they work for me.” I try hard to be careful about doing this kind of thing because I don’t like it when others do this to me. It’s rude and condescending. But maybe my insights (and they are insights) will be of value to other pre-solstice zombies. Yeah, night of the living dead. This is what we’re dealing with here.

I have held off on saying what my final insight is. This is a reward for those who have thus read this far. Know what it is? It’s chocolate. Yes, a cup of hot chocolate or a square of dark chocolate is the absolute best thing in the world if you are suffering from seasonal affective disorder. It raises the serotonin levels in a way that nothing, except for coffee, will do. So what if it’s addictive? As the song goes, “whatever gets you through the night.”

Today it’s dark, overcast, windy, and cold. Pete and I are both going to work for a few hours this morning (he’s now reading proof reading my proposal), and then we’re going to get Hrimmi out. After that, we’ll take the dogs on a long walk. This is a good way to celebrate the fact that the solstice is only a month away.

Next: 241: 11/22/13: On Target