As a sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), you may understand that these shorter days can really harsh on my easy. It’s not just me…lots of people suffer from SAD during the winter months, and there are various ways to mitigate the difficulties to which SAD can contribute.
As my sister is similarly afflicted, she offered me a chance to test-drive her full- spectrum light box to see if I would find any positive effects. Her particular unit is made by Verilux and the model is Happy Light Deluxe, though the unit itself says Happy Lite right on it. This light box is specifically designed to mimic natural sunlight and help ease the effects of dwindling daylight on SAD patients. I gave it a shot for ten days, and here’s how it went:
Day One: Forgot to get myself in front of ye olde Happy Lite (HL) until after a nap this afternoon. I lugged it out (it’s big) and put it on the counter in the kitchen. I snapped it on as I checked the email and the feed reader. Was it the power of suggestion, or did the yawns go away pretty quickly? No time to reflect…the kids are rolling in from school.
Day Two: Woke up early (4:30 a.m.). Came down and turned on the coffee maker, and flipped on the HL Damn, that thing throws off some serious light. The back porch is lit up because of this thing sitting on my counter. Don’t look directly at that sucker though—it hurts.
Puttered around the kitchen and loaded and ran the dishwasher, wiped down the counters (people really do this in the evening…after a full day?), scrubbed the pots and pans from last night. Time for my decaf and a cig. What–it’s only 5:40? Cool.
Day Three: Came downstairs, the kitchen is a mess. Plus, the coffeemaker overflowed (it always helps to actually put the filter basket inside the unit before you add coffee) so I’ve got lukewarm coffee and grounds all over the counter. Ugh.
Pulled out the HL, plopped it on the counter (a different counter–I didn’t sit it in a puddle) and I cleaned up the mess. Got a load of laundry going, dishes in the dishwasher, and took a few minutes to watch the morning news. All before the kids got up.
Daisy stumbles downstairs and is squinting in the kitchen—she retreats to the living room where it’s still dim. The HL is a little too much for her just yet…her eyes are barely open. It’s like being blasted with music after sitting in silence for eight hours. Only it’s your eyes that hurt. Weird.
Day Four: I actually look forward to getting downstairs and getting my HL on. Since I cut caffeine out of my diet back in June, I’ve not gotten that a.m. ‘boost’ that I used to enjoy as a result of a delicious morning cup of coffee. HL gives me that—again, the yawns dissipate quickly. Though there’s a lot going down in el Casa de Barney these days, I’m not feeling too glum or overwhelmed.
Ran the dishwasher again before the kids got up. Who am I?
Just realized that it is the gloomiest, greyest day out. It’s 11:35 am, and this big ol’ HL is fooling me into feeling like it’s a sunny day. I’m impressed.
Day Five: I have had such an easy time getting up and going in the morning, all week long. I love the pick-me-up I get from my HL I want to marry it…or at least wear it like a pendant so I could have it with me always. But, there’s a problem–it’s not technically my Happy Lite. It’s my sister’s. I’m going to have to return it eventually.
Day Six: ??
Day Seven: Another weekend day. Never got a chance to park myself in front of my new bestie, yesterday or today. Took a two hour nap in the middle of the day yesterday—and still slept all night last night. Hmm. Anyhow, it’s already the evening–I don’t want to wake myself up by getting my fix of glorious full-spectrum light just before I go to bed, or else I’ll never get to sleep.
Day Eight: Up bright and early—literally! When everyone got up today for school/work, I’d already gotten the kitchen cleaned up and began working on the cake balls I was making to send my dad for his birthday. Dishwasher is humming, snacks and backpacks are filled and everyone is out the door! Oh, my dear Happy Lite, how I missed you this weekend.
Day Nine: Got up this morning and got right going (after some light therapy), which today included bestowing my highest possible endorsement upon a product– I ordered my own HL. Two, actually: I bought a twin-pack of smaller lights (think earrings instead of pendant).
The big unit my sister lent me is amazing, don’t get me wrong. It’s like having the sun rising and setting right on my kitchen counter…it’s wonderful, but it’s pretty intense. Having two smaller ones, I can strategically place them and not have these wicked bright lights taking up a good deal of flat-surface around here (and blinding my daughter when she gets up in the morning).
Day Ten: Can’t wait to get my own Happy Lite. I want to be sure that my sister gets hers back before the winter days really kick in. After a week and a half, I can tell you that I actually look forward to getting up in the morning and using the light. I feel generally more pleasant, patient and yes, happy. And boy, I can sure get a lot of housework done in the wee hours of the morning.
I’m eager to see how this winter plays out for me with consistent light therapy—it’s got to be a whole lot better than my usual winter dread, which is usually hitting its full force by Veteran’s Day.
Have you ever used light therapy to stave off the symptoms of SAD? What were your results?
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I am offering an unbiased opinion on one form of therapy for the treatment of SAD, but this post should not replace appropriate medical consultation.