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wooltonian
#1 Posted : 25 January 2016 10:54:57(UTC)
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I got off to bad start this winter. I had to start taking blood pressure medication in October and this sort of distracted me from my SAD routines. I also think it takes a while to get into doing the right things at the right times at the start of the SAD season. As the seasons change it often leaves me flat-footed in my response and slow to adjust. Either that or I over-react. Going from basically doing nothing (April-September) to re-establishing my light box and vitamin D regime (October-March) takes quite a bit of trial and error and 'fine tuning' no matter how many winters I've been doing it.

Since mid-December I've been taking 1 x Solgar 1,000IU vitamin D every two days. This seems to keep me 'topped up' and functioning pretty consistently. At the start of the winter I was all over the place, usually responding to low moods and 'wobbles' instead of being pro-active and settling on a steady dose. I've even come down a bit on my light box use and this seems to have helped my sleep pattern. I now use my light box between 2.30pm and 6.30pm, roughly once an hour for 5-10 minutes. At the moment, I'm finding that 5 minutes is enough. Again, a process of trial and error seems to go on for much of the winter before things start to settle down.

February is a big turning point for me. Having natural daylight between 7.30 - 8.00am and 4.30 - 5.30pm makes a massive psychological difference. For me, those two crucial time periods are key. After that I start to relax a little.

Hope everyone is keeping OK. No long now till the daffs appear!
Linda
#2 Posted : 25 January 2016 17:58:17(UTC)
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Nice to hear from you, Wooltonian. The forum has been very quiet.

This winter so far has been on the whole marginally better than previous years, which I put down to staying on a low dose of fluoxetine throughout the summer, and also having more support from the CPN and psychiatry people. The vitamin D feeding into my system may also have helped.

One thing that hasn't changed is the insomnia (I get through a lot of books during the wee small hours!) and my propensity to make crazy mistakes sometimes, because my concentration is fragmented and my brain just doesn't work in the same way. The crippling anxiety is also ongoing, and I haven't found anything really to allay this. I have been told repeatedly that mindfulness (I nearly wrote mindlessness there!) and meditation can go some way towards ameliorating it, but in the Guardian weekend magazine yesterday (sorry, can't do links) there was an article on how this method of self-help is being promoted, mostly because it's SPAMKEYWORDer, whilst the downside of it is largely ignored. It made interesting reading.

Having got through to January, things are becoming sticky. It's typically my worst month and that has been true of this winter. If I make it through to the end of February without being signed off work, I will probably manage the rest of the season, and that will be the first time in 3 years!

Daffs....now remind me, what are those again? We haven't even got our snowdrops coming through yet.

Edit: SPAMKEYWORD should read 'less expensive'.

Edited by user 25 January 2016 18:01:12(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

wooltonian
#3 Posted : 26 January 2016 11:29:38(UTC)
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Hiya Linda. Mindfulness is one of those things that's on my radar as well. I'm all in favour of having as many strings to my bow as possible when it comes to combating stress and the winter blues (and blood pressure!). I had a look online at a course in Liverpool a couple of days ago but the weekly classes were quite long (2-3 hours!) and I had already missed the first session because the course started the second week in January. I never got as far as finding out how much it cost, but I suspect it was quite expensive given the amount of tuition time involved.

I'm sorry that the insomnia and anxiety are such an issue. I won't bang on about changing the time of your light box sessions, because you've probably tried all that. What sort of vitamin D are you taking? The only reason I ask is because I do find that it does make a difference. I find my old brand (FSC, 400iu) was quite 'spikey' and made me a bit angsty if I took it too often (i.e. every day). My current brand (Solgar, 1,000iu) although more than twice the strength seems to have a smoother action and I notice fewer peaks and troughs with virtually no spikes in anxiety levels. It's a more expensive brand, but you probably get what you pay for. Worth a thought, anyway.

As far as the daffs are concerned, the ones in our back garden started poking through about a month ago, but have taken one look at the weather and slammed the brakes on. Can't blame them!
daniherts
#4 Posted : 26 January 2016 15:04:24(UTC)
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Hi Linda & Wooltonian,
There are a few daffs poking their heads up near our house which I saw when I drove past today! Although I agree Wooltonian they are very brave as this weather is ridiculous. But on the upside they are now being sold in Sainsbury’s!

Like you, I am too taking Vitamin D which I bought from Holland and Barratt’s which was in the buy one, get one for a penny sale so I got 200 tables for £8 which I thought was great. These are 1000iu too, which I take alongside DLUX Spray which is brilliant – as it sprays right onto the inside of your cheek and straight into your blood stream! I agree the routine is hard to keep up, when all you want to do is act like a normal person (but then again what is normal eh?). Re-establishing and getting that light and vitamins into your system feels like a long old wait doesn’t it when you’re waiting so desperately for them to kick in!

As a newbie I have found this winter EXTREMELY difficult and I have been so confused, upset and worried about what is happening to me. I have been referred by my doctor for CBT through the NHS which I have the initial telephone consultation this afternoon but I am sure my sessions won’t start for a few weeks yet (considering the crazy wait I had to actually see my doctor in the first place). I am slowly building myself up again, layer by layer after a big set back from a private CBT therapist, whom charged me £85 for an initial consultation and then continued to tell me how emotionally unstable I was, and it would cost a lot of money and a lot of time to fix me!!!! I am now left slightly worried about the thought of another therapist!!

I think my citalopram is leveling out now, as my tense knot of anxiety is starting to ease and I am also getting feelings of butterflies in my stomach.

But we have nearly made it through January – and very shortly we will be on the home stretch to Spring!! Good luck Linda – you sound like a very strong lady. I too have been determined to keep fighting and getting to university. It definitely takes a strong person to get back up again after a good kick in from SAD’s!!!!

As for mindfulness, I have been reading a book by Mark Williams which is an 8 week programme, I am finding it difficult but the mindfulness apparently really helps. I don't have any local groups that do this in my area though which is a shame.

FEBRUARY is just around the corner and the dreadful January soon to be over!!!!!


Linda
#5 Posted : 27 January 2016 17:50:05(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: wooltonian Go to Quoted Post

What sort of vitamin D are you taking? The only reason I ask is because I do find that it does make a difference. I find my old brand (FSC, 400iu) was quite 'spikey' and made me a bit angsty if I took it too often (i.e. every day). My current brand (Solgar, 1,000iu) although more than twice the strength seems to have a smoother action and I notice fewer peaks and troughs with virtually no spikes in anxiety levels. It's a more expensive brand, but you probably get what you pay for. Worth a thought, anyway.


My vitamin D is 800 units per day. I'm not sure of the exact brand as it's on prescription and comes in small jars from the pharmacy - (called Colecalciferol, if that's any help?) But I don't have any choice in what I take - it's whatever brand the pharmacy dispenses (except for those gel 'pearls', which I can't take because the coating makes me ill).

Danielle, things have been rough for you, so it's good that you feel it's levelling out now. I've not heard of the DLUX spray (by the way, is it safe to take that as well as 1000iu? If so, I may join you!)

That's a huge amount of £ for an initial consultation. At least you won't have to pay for the CBT through the NHS. Resources for CBT are hopelessly scarce in our corner of the world, and although I'm supposed to have been on the waiting-list, there's certainly nothing certain about whether or not I will actually get it!
S100
#6 Posted : 27 January 2016 22:12:29(UTC)
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Hi all, I too am getting pretty fed up of January, but it is nearly done. I'm finding it tough, not so much the lack of sun as the fact that I have several real-world stress factors which came on quickly and can only mend slowly.

A couple of thoughts re mindfulness and CBT... I would not want to spend money on either (typical Aberdonian!) but mindfulness meditation can be learned for free, and it's no secret that the attempt itself can be considered a successful experiment. There's no wrong way, certainly no particular expertise is required, just buy a book with accompanying CD, or an app. I found that Guardian article and while I don't known what the individual problems were, I reckon I'd find meditation unpleasant as a group activity. It would just take one person who breathes in an annoyingly audible way or can't sit still and you have lost the mood! I'd get irritated or bored but I can imagine others could feel vulnerable or self-conscious in that situation.

Truth is, I only mediate when I'm extra-stressed and/or don't have some other distraction to help me relax. I had a few attempts at making it a regular habit, but always got bored with it. However I think being able to step aside from one's emotions and examine them is valuable especially if one is experiencing some stress. Mindfulness is worth investigating for that alone. A pause for just one breath can be enough to replace an emotional reaction to a situation with a more considered one.

I was lucky I got some free CBT from the NHS but if looking to go private the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy would be my first and only point of call. Three years down the line, the one thing I hang onto from CBT without exception is that I record my mood on a scale of 1 to 5 every evening. Being something of a geek, I can plot the 2-week moving average on a graph and know for sure when I need to be vigilant, i.e. average mood has dropped below neutral (= 3). There's an obvious correlation with the season, SAD is definitely a big factor, but life's ups and downs also have a large effect.
wooltonian
#7 Posted : 28 January 2016 16:27:59(UTC)
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I found CBT useful-ish. I did a course of several hour-long sessions back in 2008 to help with the transition from being signed off work to starting my own van-driving business. The thing that stayed with me were lessons learned from the 'mood diary' that you have to keep (an hourly record of your current activity measured alongside mood). It made me realise that watching a TV programme that wasn't really engaging me mentally, far from being 'relaxing', is actually a drain on mood and leaves me feeling groggy and flat. Conversely, working at something with a bit of purpose, rather than being tiring is actually beneficial to energy and mood. The sessions themselves, however, reached the point of diminishing returns quite quickly, although the basic premise of challenging your negative thoughts is totally sound and a good thing to carry with you.

Ultimately, being a 'saddie' I feel my tendency for depression is probably more physical than due to dysfunctional thought patterns. Starve me of vitamin D for three or four days during the winter and I will disappear into a funk. Restore my supply and after a couple of hours I come back to life again! It's entirely possible, though, that struggling with the effects of SAD may lead to the negative thought patterns which CBT aims to resolve, so I would advise anyone who suffers from depression / anxiety to give it a try regardless of what they think the root cause of their condition might be.

Edited by user 28 January 2016 17:01:11(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Equinox
#8 Posted : 29 January 2016 17:31:28(UTC)
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Hello all, long-time lurker first time poster. I've had SAD most winters now for around 10 years, with some years better than others (one winter I worked in a photographic studio with bright lights all day, was the best winter, didn't get SAD at all!). This winter has been the worst in a while, the lightbox and sunrise lamp have helped but not as much as other years. Something I've heard on the radio a few times has got me wondering though; a couple of times now on Gardener's Question Time, they have mentioned how last summer (2015) was a very bad year for light and so a lot of people’s plants didn't grow so well. Which made me wonder if that might be something to do with this being a worse winter this year, as there wasn't enough sun to top up on last summer?

If anyone is thinking of using mindfulness I really recommend it. One breathing technique I sometimes use is alternate nostril breathing. http://www.artofliving.o...l-breathing-nadi-shodhan Am not sure if I believe all the esoteric stuff that people day about it, but it really does help take the edge off the anxiety, at least for me

At least the days are getting longer, have been obsessively checking the daily sunrise and sunset times. Once it is still light when leaving work I'll know the worst of it is truly over for another season
wooltonian
#9 Posted : 30 January 2016 11:35:56(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Equinox Go to Quoted Post
At least the days are getting longer, have been obsessively checking the daily sunrise and sunset times.


Ha! I've started doing that. I reckon it's because I'm impatient at how slowly the mornings are getting brighter and I need some physical 'proof' that the sun is actually rising earlier! Somewhere at the back of my mind I remember S100 saying that as we head towards the Spring Equinox the the sunrise times get earlier at a faster rate. Looking forward to that!

I agree that there are key times in the day when the extra light really makes a difference. For me it's getting up in the morning in daylight and between 5 - 6.00pm. By the time we're into early March I almost feel like there's enough daylight for my needs (I mean, who needs sunshine at 5.30 in the morning?). At that point it's lack of warm sunshine for vitamin D that's still the problem...

Welcome to the Forum, by the way!

Linda
#10 Posted : 30 January 2016 11:37:53(UTC)
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Hi Equinox, and welcome to the forum. Hope you find us friendly and useful.

It's interesting that you say this is your worst winter in a while; I read something about it being harder to absorb / process vitamin D as we get older, and as you say, if there is less light generally, that would exacerbate the situation. (Does that make sense? I'm having a bad day today, and am not really fully "switched on".) Having said that, I actually think the last two winters have been worse for me, and this year I'm surviving - although with difficulty. However, I put that down to having better professional support and also staying on a low dose of anti-depressants throughout the summer. But I suppose there is still time to derail; I won't be "safe" until March at least!

I'm still in two minds about mindfulness (pun not intended) especially after reading the Guardian article which highlighted the downsides of it rather than the benefits. I think a lot of people do benefit, but it doesn't seem to be the full story. I'm glad it's helping you.

Look forward to seeing you around the forum.

Edited by user 30 January 2016 11:39:22(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

wooltonian
#11 Posted : 09 February 2016 11:11:14(UTC)
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I've decided I'm going to buy a book on Mindfulness. There don't seem to be any courses running in my area at the moment and I am interested in learning a bit more about the subject to get an idea if there would be anything in it for me. There are a couple of suitably short, concise books on Amazon that get good reviews which may give me a decent oversight.

I am exasperated and puzzled by something akin to social anxiety that I seem to suffer from. The irony is that I am a fairly confident, outgoing person -- but I seem to have this 'other side' to me that stresses for no reason at social contact. I can feel it in terms of becoming mentally jaded a couple of minutes into a conversation and I also get a socking great stress rash across my upper chest and neck. All the stress-related books and advice seem to either concentrate on confrontational situations (mine aren't - perfectly friendly, rational contact causes me stress) or 'after the event' relaxation techniques (by which time it's too late - I need something 'in the moment'). In formal social situations (get-togethers, parties etc) I mitigate my social anxiety with alcohol -- always commencing with a couple of pints of strong lager (usually Stella) to 'get the party started'. Without alcohol I stress.

This morning I had a couple of Jehovah's witnesses at the door. It was a nice sunny day and I was bored so I engaged them in some lively, but friendly conversation (North Korea, Syria, end of the world stuff -- nothing heavy). After they left I pulled the neck of my pullover down -- blazing, angry red blotches everywhere. It really exasperates me! I just don't get it!

If anyone recognises these symptoms or thinks they know of something that might help please let me know. In the meantime I shall check mindfulness out.

Will keep you posted...
S100
#12 Posted : 09 February 2016 21:53:57(UTC)
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Hi Wooltonian, it's certainly worth looking into mindfulness. I hope you find it interesting. I wouldn't say it transformed my life but I have noticed some benefits. I used to get IBS when over-stressed but now I am better at spotting the stress and I'm able to do something about it. I'd actually never heard of stress rash but a quick google sorted that. I come out in something like nettle rash if I do any heavy lifting but that's just an over-active response to pressure on my skin, allergic to work, haha.

We had a lovely sunny day today and I was able to go running at lunchtime. That is a great stress-buster, though it took me a few months to get to the level where I can run for long enough to unwind (I could barely last a minute when I started). Emboldened by the Spring sunshine, I have stowed my Lumie away, hopefully until October. Fingers crossed!

debbie
#13 Posted : 13 February 2016 10:30:27(UTC)
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Hi wooltonian, and welcome Equinox,
Debbie here, I just decided to see if the forum had lightened up, and delighted to see everyone chatting,
I have battled through on 10mg citalopram, I went to my doctor last month, and I opted to stay on 10mg, has my sad began to lift
I had to smile at others doing the same checking the clock to see if it's getting lighter longer, even checking the lighting up times on the computer, to my delight it's light at 5 pm, I can see movement
I find February a turning point in sad not low but not over happy, and like wooltonian said I get inpatient waiting for the days to get longer, has I found January to be painfully slow, I sank into depression and felt so unwell, but has this month has progressed my mood has lifted, has finally the mild rain dull weather has given way to brighter and cold, don't mind that if I can get out without battling with my brolly,
I do hope we have a nice summer, after last years dismal attempt at one, I think that is why I crashed in October on holiday, requiring the antidepressants again,
Debbie 😐🌞

Edited by user 13 February 2016 10:33:16(UTC)  | Reason: Put wrong word in

wooltonian
#14 Posted : 13 February 2016 15:21:40(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: debbie Go to Quoted Post

I do hope we have a nice summer, after last years dismal attempt at one, I think that is why I crashed in October on holiday, requiring the antidepressants again,
Debbie 😐🌞


Hiya Debbie. Nice to see you back on the board! I was wondering how you got on at the doctors and whether you increased your citalopram dosage from 10mg. If you're feeling an improvement in your SAD without upping the dose then so much the better! The forecast this week is for more cold but bright weather which is good news. Looking forward to putting my woolies on and going for a few walks! I think in the same way that November is my 'bogie month', February is a month that I look forward to because I see it as the start of Spring (even though it's freezing!) and the beginning of something better.

I was talking to Mrs. wooltonian this morning about whether last summer was good or bad. We couldn't remember, but decided the weather must have been bad because the barbecue never got used. That tells its own story!

Linda
#15 Posted : 13 February 2016 23:22:57(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: wooltonian Go to Quoted Post

February is a month that I look forward to because I see it as the start of Spring (even though it's freezing!) and the beginning of something better.


On the other hand, February is a month that I don't generally look forward to, as it's usually not even the beginning of the end for me. But having said that, although it's been a testing time, at least I've made it (so far) this year, which is a completely different story from the last few. I've had more psychiatric support, I'm on vitamin D, and I stayed on fluoxetine right through the summer - three factors that I think have made a difference. So - the middle of February - instead of being out-and-out depressed, I can actually feel the sap beginning to rise. It's quite a revelation to me!

It's really good to hear that others also seem to be getting by - and hopefully looking forward to better days.
debbie
#16 Posted : 14 February 2016 09:46:16(UTC)
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Hi wooltonian,
Thank you for thinking how I was getting on with my antidepressants, much appreciated,
Just woke up after a good sleep, for a change, to bright morning sunshine, what a difference that makes,
I can hear the collard doves tweeting which normally annoy me if it's too early, but it's a welcome sound!
I think I will get out and walk to our local supermarket via the canal and feed the ducks enroute,
I find the sun must charge my batteries, especially at this time of year when it's getting lighter, I noticed my solar powered lamps are showing signs of coming out of hibernation, they shone for 1 hour last night!
Last summer was very poor if I can recall, here in Radcliffe Manchester it was dry but very overcast most days, and not deck chair weather, I think that's why in October I had bad depression again, and had come of my medication, under doctors supervision,
I am living in hope of a summer this year?
40 years since summer of 1976 if anyone can recall it!
I was only 6 and endless nice days,
Debbie 🌞
S100
#17 Posted : 15 February 2016 12:40:11(UTC)
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Hi Debbie, funny you should mention the summer of '76. We had a two week family holiday in the Hebrides, and it was wet most of the time (Linda can laugh here). When we got back we had no idea what all the fuss was about!

Great to have full sun and snow on the ground today. Nothing can compete with that for getting a good dose of the photons.
Linda
#18 Posted : 15 February 2016 20:09:22(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: S100 Go to Quoted Post
Hi Debbie, funny you should mention the summer of '76. We had a two week family holiday in the Hebrides, and it was wet most of the time (Linda can laugh here). When we got back we had no idea what all the fuss was about!

Great to have full sun and snow on the ground today. Nothing can compete with that for getting a good dose of the photons.


Yes, you made me laugh, S100! Actually, I lived in the South-East of England in 1976, and I remember it well - it was the summer I was cramming for my O levels, and it really was far too hot to be swotting over revision. You were better off in the Hebrides! Whereabouts were you?

S100
#19 Posted : 15 February 2016 23:13:40(UTC)
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Hi Linda, we used to go to a little place in Lewis called Lochganvich (forgive the anglicised spelling). Just a static caravan on a farm but when I was a kid we looked forwards to it every year. Such a friendly place with beautiful beaches all down the west side. I have fond memories of Great Bernera, Callanish, Seilbost and Rodel and the fish and chip shop in Stornoway!
debbie
#20 Posted : 16 February 2016 22:00:23(UTC)
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HI S100,
SORRY THE SUMMER HOLIDAY OF 1976 WASNT VERY GOOD IN TERMS OF THE WEATHER,
I WAS ONLY 6 YEARS OLD, AND I RECALL THE INTENSE HEAT FOR DAYS ON END, STRANGE THAT SORT OF HEAT IN THE NORTH WEST OF UK, VIRTUALLY UNHEARD OF TODAY, I CANT RECALL A DECENT SUMMER WITHIN THE LAST 5 YEARS.
TODAY WE HAD NICE SUNSHINE BRIGHT AND SUNNY, BUT BITTERLY COLD, I MANAGED TO HAVE A WALK DOWN MY LOCAL CANAL, AND FEED THE DUCKS, THAT WHERE ON THE ICE, SKATING AWAY.
ITS STRANGE HOW WAKING UP TO BRIGHT SUNSHINE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL MORE HAPPY AND GIVE YOU MUCH MORE ENERGY, I HAVE FELT A MARKED IMPROVEMENT IN MY SAD SYMPTOMS OVER THE LAST FEW DAYS.
SADLY HAS I WRITE THE RAIN HAS MADE A VERY UNWELCOME RETURN, AND I CAN HEAR THE WIND AGAIN,
I HOPE IT DOESNT RUIN MY UPLIFTED SPIRITS, I AM JUST GETTING OUT OF THE DREADFUL SAD.
THE WELCOME LIGHTER EVENINGS ARE A BOOST TOO.
REGARDS,
DEBBIE X

Edited by user 16 February 2016 22:02:18(UTC)  | Reason: SPELLING

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