Two years ago I discovered there’s a such thing as “the most depressing day of the year,” aka “Blue Monday.” It even has a Wikipedia entry, which shows the formula in how this day is determined every year.
Two years ago I suffered from some terrible seasonal depression. I wasn’t the only one suffering as many of my friends, who don’t suffer from SAD for the most part, were experiencing the same phenomenon. Sure enough, on the so-called Blue Monday, we all were feeling at our worst that year. Then last year I didn’t struggle at all, but medication might have helped it (as it has this year).
But the reality is this is the time of year my seasonal depression starts to improve since I’ve been out of college. College meant midterms and stress hit in February, and that typically would be a down point for me. But now I’m slowly starting to improve.
You may or may not have noticed we’re gaining more light each day. It’s been happening since the winter solstice, the day when we have the least amount of light. It’s why the first day of winter is one of my favorite days of the year, even though I loathe winter.
Now it’s still light out at 4:30 p.m., and I even can see some light on the horizon still when I leave work at 5 p.m. For someone who leaves her apartment as the sun rises and comes home in the dark, that’s encouraging. I need light, clearly. We all do, really.
While the cold and snow and ice may get me down, I try to focus on the light returning. That gets me through.
* * *
A few months back I wrote about sliding backwards in my fight against depression. I waited quite some time to see my psychiatrist (partly because I was busy, partly because I would forget to call to make an appointment), but we shifted the dosage in my medication. It made a world of difference to me and felt like I was getting back on the right track.
In the middle of this process with my psychiatrist, I had my yearly physical. I learned I not only have a significant deficiency in Vitamin D (as we all do, really, at this time of year), I have a significant deficiency in B-12. Part of the problem with the former is diet (I am lactose intolerant). I’m not sure what caused the latter.
And I had an epiphany when I was reading about B-12, what foods are rich in it and what a deficiency can cause. A lot of my issues — fatigue, anxiety and more — can be tied to a deficiency in B-12. From this article:
A slight deficiency of vitamin B-12 can lead to anemia, fatigue, mania, and depression, while a long term deficiency can cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system.
When I saw my psychiatrist for a follow-up visit on Friday, I mentioned this. She wasn’t surprised and told me she was going to order blood work if I wasn’t feeling better at this appointment.
I’ve only been on supplements for about a week, so I can’t say if they’re helping. I also have been having some problems sleeping, especially last week. I was awake at 4:30 a.m. every day and would be awake several other times during the night. I felt detached from myself by the end of the week. But I got a decent night sleep the last two nights.
As the coach of my favorite hockey team would say, it’s a process. We have to figure out how to balance everything. The antidepressant levels I’m taking now may be affecting my sleep. I’m due to go see my psychiatrist in three weeks to check on my sleep. We may need to decrease the dosage. And in three months I’ll get checked again for my vitamin levels.
I’m quite thankful, though, that some of my problems — especially the fatigue — are not related to something more serious. If fatigue, anxiety and mania can all be fixed with vitamin supplements, I consider myself extremely lucky.