Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mommy's Project 52:22 Working

I admit, I slacked last week.  I fully intended to blog, update on things here at home, document some of the holiday happenings, and chronicle some of the things going on with the kids.  And I didn't.  Instead, I let the madness of the holidays drive me into a negative funk that somewhat paralyzed me.  Talk about zapping the fun out of the holiday season.

I have SAD, seasonal affective disorder.  It's something that I've dealt with all my life, but didn't know I really had it until after I had my daughter in 2004.  I just figured that school made me miserable in those earlier years, winter was harder because of the cold, snow, and the stress from the holidays, and that whatever moods I swung between were simply part of my personality and I just had to deal with it.  I never thought it had anything to do with limited amounts of sunlight for 8 months of the year.

After SAD was confirmed, I was able to knowingly manage things to ensure that I recognized dips in my mood, how I felt on cloudy days, sunny days, and how my mood fluctuated based on the weather.  Crazy, huh?  Ya, I thought I was, too.  Once I started to recognize it, though, I was much happier, and my time with my young daughter was that much better.  When I got pregnant with my son (whose due date was March), my OB and I took a proactive approach to the winter and post partum months, and it made a world of difference.  Since then, I started running in 2010, and that alone has made a huge impact on how I manage my moods.  I get out of the house more, I exercise {a natural mood enhancer}, and I socialize.  Three things that I, personally, thrive on.  Well, the exercise part I had to work up to, but, I do thrive on social interaction.

That said, I never realized how much work is involved in staying happy and positive.  I don't mean positive in the "positive mental attitude" sense, but positive in the "I can do this, I will get through the morning, the afternoon, the evening", sense.  On top of that, it takes concentration on what you eat, spending time outside, and making sure that you monitor your moods and what's going on around you.  I try to remember on cloudy days that it's gloomy outside, but doesn't have to be inside.  When it's cloudy for days on end, summer or winter, I have to really work on not letting my mood dip too low, or it can derail the whole train.  I try to focus on doing things with the kids, getting out to the library, visiting friends, really anything to keep my mind busy.  It makes a real difference.

In the winter months, when the days get shorter and the sun sets (much) earlier, I notice it immediately.  The same is true after the winter solstice when the sun stays out longer.  Just the other day, in fact, I physically felt a sense of joy and elation when I noticed a glimmer of sunshine on the horizon while I drove home after work.  I could not believe how I felt just knowing that the sun was somewhere within reach.  {note: yes, I realize that I cannot physically 'reach' the sun, but knowing that the sun can, in some way, reach me, is a physical relief like no other}

Some winters are better than others as far as the impact of SAD.  Last winter was relatively fine, all things considered (a holiday road trip to Florida {with two kids and a car full of gifts}, lots of family time, a blizzard in February, our first school year with Ethel in kindergarten, etc).  I had a couple rough patches, but overall I enjoyed the holidays, the adjustment to a full day school-ager, and days spent alone with my son for the first time.  One thing that helped me last winter was walking my daughter to and from school on Thursdays and Fridays, the two days I work from home.  Leaving the house, even 15 minutes of walking, and adding her delivery and pick up to the day really helped keep me from being a sloth and letting the gloom of winter seep into my mood {see above mention of social interaction and getting out of the house}.

I do work outside the home three days a week {that's work} and at home for two {that's lots of work}, I do have a husband and two kids {that's work}, and I have a home to keep {that's work}.  The hardest work for me, though, is staying happy.  Lucky for me, running, being proactive, and the support of my family have helped me keep myself from sinking too low.  Of course, a little wine thrown in for good measure doesn't hurt, either.