I am relishing the fact that spring has come to my part of the world. The sun is out, the temperatures are verging on hot, at least during the daytime, and my entire outlook is bright. Oddly, even working the same amount of hours and spending the same amount of time on errands and other things that I have to fit around my schedule, these last few days seem to be endless. There is a sense of calm, a sense of relief, a sense that not just the plants are awakening, but that I am as well.
The amateur psychologist within me is wondering if I might have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). So of course, I googled it.
The National Institute of Mental Health states that:
“To be diagnosed with SAD, people must meet full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons (appearing in the winter or summer months) for at least 2 years.”
I checked the symptoms of major depression and added my personal analysis:
Symptoms of Major Depression
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day — Not at all
- Feeling hopeless or worthless — Nope
- Having low energy — Well do get up at 4:30 AM and often chase a 2 1/2 year old around so…
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed — No
- Having problems with sleep — I’m nearing 60. I think I read that it’s common to wake up at night, and take naps during the day. Also see the low energy answer.
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight — No, and my weight has held steady for quite some time now. A nice surprise at my last medical checkup.
- Feeling sluggish or agitated — This one’s a no as well.
- Having difficulty concentrating — I can concentrate just fine, I just don’t always remember things after I’ve concentrated on them.
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide. — I will admit that hearing that Barbara Bush just passed at 92 years, and that the Queen of England just turned 92 has made me quite aware that I am closer to those numbers myself, but I plan to stick around for some time yet.
I would have to say that I don’t really qualify for the major depression diagnosis. As to the winter symptoms associated with SAD (plus answers again):
Symptoms of the Winter Pattern of SAD include:
- Having low energy — I think we covered that one above.
- Hypersomnia — While I have never fallen asleep while driving, or dozed off while screening a baby, I can easily fall asleep during toddler nap time after lunch.
- Overeating — Don’t think so, but where does having a strong desire to visit the snack chip aisle in the grocery store fall? I admit to giving into that urge a few times too many. By the way- Lays Kettle Cooked Olive Oil and Herb chips are excellent!
- Weight gain — No, really I have not gained weight so I think you need to stop asking.
- Craving for carbohydrates — I always crave carbs. Winter, spring, summer, or fall I do not differentiate with any season regarding my carb craving… ever.
- Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”) — Maybe when the thermometer says 20 degrees, but I got a nice new down jacket this past winter so I was pretty toasty warm.
Apparently I appear to be fairly stable in the depression arena, and based on subjective opinion, may or may not have some of the symptoms of the winter disorder, but given the definition above, I don’t think that I qualify.
Perhaps seeing my garden bloom, the birds flying past my window, planning out delicious recipes that highlight all the upcoming spring and summer vegetables, looking forward to getting outside more with the granddaughters, and sipping some chilled wine while relaxing on summer evenings on the front lawn means nothing more than my life is normal. It is falling into place. I am settling in and settling down while moving forward. Perhaps the residual stress of that long journey that I was trying to endure at this time last year is really no longer a part of me.
The road ahead is open and I don’t think that I have to look back anymore.