Jenny Brown (skywind8) wrote,
Jenny Brown
skywind8

Getting Brighter

This was my third morning using the light box. In addition it's sunny outside today, and due to some minor car trouble this morning I saw more of it than usual on the drive in. I'm actually feeling good today.

Over the past 1-2 weeks (but especially past 1 week), I was really starting to notice symptoms of lethargy and depression because of the lack of light. Here are the ones I can remember.

Motivation: Lost the ability to be self-directed in tasks. Lost attention span and focus easily. Forgot what I was doing in the time it took to walk to the kitchen. Lots of apathy; I didn't do dishes during the day, or take out trash, or any of a number of other items. Why? I didn't know. I just didn't feel like it. It wasn't worth the effort of standing up and walking over to it. I didn't cook (even when hungry). I didn't go get groceries. I didn't do anything that wasn't absolutely necessary right that instant.

Emotional: Felt an ongoing sense of dissatisfaction and minor annoyance. My "normal" daily state is energetic and slightly happy, easily amused, and very patient with irritations. Instead I was finding myself always slightly unhappy and not satisfied, and craving comforting. I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning because bed was warm and quiet and calm and comforting. The air was cold and indicated having to be active, not comfy. I didn't want to go to bed at night because talking to my husband was comforting and cozy, and going to bed meant stopping that (and getting into a cold bed where I'd shiver for the first hour). I switched to eating strongly flavored foods (pickles; curries; chili; salty chips and salsa; fruit and syrups) because the physical sensations of taste were comforting, and my senses were dull.

Eating: Switched (almost unconsciously) to a 90% carbs diet, heavy on pasta, chips, bread, and sweets. Found myself craving food to try to make my brain work right but it wasn't enough. (This has a legitimate basis - I seem to get hypoglycemia symptoms if I go too long without eating, and this includes brain fog; so normally eating does solve the issue.) Found myself eating smaller meals but eating almost constantly in an attempt to maintain my energy level at just barely being able to do stuff. (I reached "just barely able to do stuff" during the sugar peak portion.)

Physical: All-over aches and pains, sore muscles, very slow recovery from exercise. Got out of breath easily and took a long time to regain it. Slept poorly but for an excessive amount of time. Rarely felt rested, just more dragging or less dragging. Tended to get cold and stay cold. Got clumsy, started tripping on things and bumping into things more.

Found myself zoning (spacing out) at traffic lights, staring blankly ahead instead of being alert and glancing around at traffic. Felt like my reflexes were just a hair slower than usual - more that my senses were slow and thus I'd be slower at noticing that I needed to react. I could shake myself awake with a burst of adrenaline but it didn't last very long. I noticed other drivers on the road having trouble too (like not noticing that the light turned green when they're the front car in the line). In a slightly different direction, I also saw more than the usual number of drivers pulling risky maneuvers and driving excessively fast; I'd guess that they're experiencing similar problems but responding to the stress by being more willing to take risks and using the adrenaline to stay awake. They're still having poor judgement though.

Mental: Extreme brain fog, loss of touch with time-sense and a sense of reality. Felt like I was half asleep all the time. Couldn't remember things, couldn't make plans or accomplish things. Began losing advanced cognitive abilities (complex logical reasoning and programming problems), but due to everything else I didn't even care. I could think, "yeah I should do X" but I'd forget about it in the couple of minutes it took to work up the energy to stand up. Had a lot of holes in my memory, activities of recent days were faded or not memorable. If I worked at it, I could dig up whatever it was I did that day, but there was a sense of timelessness and irrelevance that made it hard to think about or care. In addition I didn't do much of interest because I mostly just sat around talking or doing nothing, letting time go by. I couldn't hold to-do lists in my head, or even simple items I was asked to do. I had a difficult time getting into requirements analysis for software at work because I couldn't get my brain to focus in on it.

Also, making excessive typos or leaving out words when I write/type, and having to re-edit something 5-10 times more than usual to clean it up. Ugh.

---------------------

And even with everything I have described, I'd rank this as "mild" impairment due to seasonal depression. And it responded quickly to light therapy; more severe impairment takes longer to fully respond. Compared with the worst that SAD can get for me, this was about 5-10% impairment.

My emotional level was maybe 10% below neutral; severe depression has in the past taken it to 60% below or more. My natural emotional level is about 20% above neutral. My motivation was at probably -20% this time; its normal also is about 20% above neutral. In the past, seasonal depression has put motivation at -70%. The worst level I ever reached was during untreated seasonal depression during the darkest part of November and December.

Today I'm feeling about 5% above neutral emotionally (mid-day; it was at negative 5% upon waking) and 5-10% above in motivation (mid-day). I still don't have full motivation back to make plans and take care of house work that needs done. But it's such a relief to not have the mental fog and dreary loss of energy. I'm still having trouble waking in the morning and getting up; which implies I'm still craving physical comforting to maintain emotional balance.

I hope the second light box I ordered gets here soon. I'd really like to have it at work.
Tags: health/medical, lightbox
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