Living in darkness no color I see a hint of deep blue maybe red– but no, only blackness
Tears flood the darkness trying to wash away the blackness to reveal the color I know must be near
I’ve heard stories of vibrant yellow sunshine smiling green trees happiness in rainbows streaming across a pale blue sky
But in the darkness these colors are but myths draped in blackness obscured by the pain I feel
Then suddenly the Light comes dim colors revealed to my eyes for my heart to see
The Light drawn by my tears came to wash away the blackness tears alone could never heal
The colors of my world brighten day by day as the Light illuminates the truth of colors that were always just outside the darkness
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
Matthew 4:15-16 (NIV).
This poem was originally posted on my blog, Linda Kruschke’s Blog, about my own struggles with major depression and the Light who has helped me see the beautiful colors depression had obscured.
If you notice periods of depression that seem to accompany seasonal changes during the year, you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression – usually in late fall and winter – alternating with periods of normal or high mood the rest of the year.
Most people with SAD are women whose illness typically begins in their twenties, although men also report SAD of similar severity and have increasingly sought treatment. SAD can also occur in children and adolescents, in which case the syndrome is first suspected by parents and teachers. Many people with SAD report at least one close relative with a psychiatric condition, most frequently a severe depressive disorder (55 percent) or alcohol abuse (34 percent).
What are the patterns of SAD? Symptoms of “winter SAD” usually begin in October or November and subside in March or April. Some patients begin to slump as early as August, while others remain well until January. Regardless of the time of onset, most patients don’t feel fully back to normal until early May.
Their depressions are usually mild to moderate, but they can be severe. Very few patients with SAD have required hospitalization, and even fewer have been treated with electroconvulsive therapy.
The usual characteristics of recurrent winter depression include:
and weight gain, although a patient does not necessarily show these symptoms.
Additionally, there are the usual features of depression, especially decreased sexual interest, lethargy, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, lack of interest in normal activities, and social withdrawal.
Treating your SAD
Light therapy is now considered the first-line treatment intervention, and if properly dosed can produce relief within days. Antidepressants may also help, and if necessary can be used in conjunction with light. In about 1/10th of cases, annual relapse occurs in the summer rather than winter, possibly in response to high heat and humidity. During that period, the depression is more likely to be characterized by insomnia, decreased appetite, weight loss, and agitation or anxiety.
Interestingly, patients with such “reverse SAD” often find relief with summer trips to cooler climates in the north. Generally, normal air conditioning is not sufficient to relieve this depression, and an antidepressant may be needed. In still fewer cases, a patient may experience both winter and summer depressions, while feeling fine each fall and spring, around the equinoxes. The most common characteristic of people with winter SAD is their reaction to changes in environmental light.
Patients living at different latitudes note that their winter depressions are longer and more profound the farther north they live. Patients with SAD also report that their depression worsens or reappears whenever the weather is overcast at any time of the year, or if their indoor lighting is decreased. SAD is often misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, infectious mononucleosis, and other viral infections.
Christ, whose glory fills the skies, Christ, the true and only light, Sun of righteousness, arise, Triumph over the shades of night; Dayspring from on high, be near; Daystar, in my heart appear.
Dark and cheerless is the morn Unaccompanied by thee; Joyless is the day’s return Till thy mercy’s beams I see, Till they inward light impart, Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.
Visit then this soul of mine, Pierce the gloom of sin and grief; Fill me, radiancy divine, Scatter all my unbelief; More and more thyself display, Shining to the perfect day.
Wesley’s hymn resonates within. Being of a sad and melancholic temperment I find a deep assurance in these words that describe my issues so clearly. But He is my light, He scatters my unbelief and doubt. I will lean heavily on Jesus, as He leads me out of my darkness.
I pray that you would know His mercy and love for your soul. No matter what you’ve done or may do, His heart turns to you.
Early this morning I sat on the deck drinking my coffee. It’s Alaska, and although the snow is gone it was still 32 F. It’s clear and crisp. I could hear the cranes on Beluga Lake nearby. I truly love it when the sun makes its entrance– everything seems to wake-up, either to sing or just to catch the light.
The bare trees still have a purpose. I suppose they’re just waiting. They warm themselves. I’d like to think they are content to be in this season. (They must, because none have left :-) ). They seem to glow when the sunlight meets their bark and branches. I’m thinking a dozen things all at once– kind of like an old coffee percolator.
Today is an eventful day for me. I’ll be flying all the way up to Anchorage to see a neurologist. He is supposed to tell me about my tumor, and all the odd peripherals which come with it. The MRI shows something, but no one here will give me a straight answer. Maybe they can’t, I don’t know.
It’s like I’m a tree catching and absorbing the light. It has been given to me for this moment. It is a blessing and a joy. And I too am waiting.
“The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.”