The other day I watched a girl get mugged. I was mere moments out of a crap Wednesday feeling sorry for myself for working precisely 36 minutes over time with only enough of a break for a quick sprint to the coffee shop (followed by the speediest consumption of leftover roast dinner known to man). And then it happened. Two completely shitty humans (excuse the language – but it’s entirely necessary) zoomed past me on a moped and snatched at the woman in front of me. In the blink of an eye they were gone.
So was her bag, phone and composure.
As she spluttered profanities directed at herself for being so “stupid” at getting out her phone to call her boyfriend, the other couple that had stopped to help agreed that it was a hugely common occurrence and one should be weary walking these streets with a snazzy iPhone in hand and only do so in emergencies. I stood there dumbstruck – reliving the text I was, at the time of the mopeds passing, writing. It was to the boy, having a whinge about how my new Percy Pig adorned socks weren’t keeping my toes adequately warm against this harsh British winter. My feet were like ice blocks and M&S had obviously falsified the wool content of my £2 for 3 socks… But an emergency it was not.
The incident in question sort of shook me. I mean, it shook the poor girl who got mugged a hell of a lot more. Obviously. But it did get me thinking.
I’ve been sad recently. Not melodramatically depressed or horridly low. Just simply sad. And as well as striking me how silly it was that, in the midst of all my good fortune, (apart from the sock rip off saga) I was sad, it also made me realise quite how real Seasonal Affective Disorder is.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a mood disorder that can see people experience depressive symptoms in the winter (or summer… but it is more commonly associated with the colder months).
In New Zealand they sort of suggested it was a thing. As Autumn days got shorter poorly designed posters (usually made using a creative combination of pixelated shots from a google image search and clip art) cropped up in staff rooms with tacky tag lines. But the truth is that an Auckland winter is so mild it never effected me.
But here in a London winter I rarely see the sun. And no, that’s not an over reaction. I leave home before its up, often work though lunch, and head home well after it has set. The only chance to get my vitamin D intake is during the weekends…. And I’m not going to lie, pjs and Netflix marathons usually beat any desire to galavant in the grey abyss. In fact, the boy and I can sometimes fall into a bad habit of not even drawing the curtains in an effort to keep the precious heat inside our single glazed home.
I mean sure, it’s February now – making all hopeful and ambitiously poised New Years resolutions already well failed. The Chrimbo weight is clearly not shifting as quickly as it appeared, and that credit card bill is unfortunately not paying itself. It also marks the hottest summer in bloody forever back in Auckland – and no matter how much my well meaning-ed friends mutter “oh but it’s awful, you know, it’s too hot to do literally anything” across pixelated Skype dates, I would still drop my Blanket coat in a heart beat to be there. (And by blanket coat I obviously mean blanket that I have draped over myself to conceal the owl shaped hot water bottle that’s tucked into my waist band, not an actual high fashion outerwear). But even with all that, it’s important to note that the melancholy mood that’s keeping you plugged into The Good Wife reruns like they’re crack, is not a post-holiday let down, but an actual change in your brains chemistry.
SAD is a “biochemical imbalance” that comes about when our exposure to daylight is seriously lacking. It’s believed that out internal “clock” (the one that regulates mood, sleep, and hormones) goes a little crazy when we get less sun. Normally (in non SAD days, that is) the change from day to night prompts the release of the sleep-related hormone called melatonin in our bodies. Melatonin tells your brain that it’s time for sleep. In real people words; when you are SAD your body acts like it is time for bed…all the time. When the days and months are shorter and darker, the melatonin produced leads to feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, irritability, loss of interest, fatigue, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, sleeping or making decisions, and a decrease in energy.
Also, not directly linked or quoted on the NHS website – but I’m calling it as a symptom anyway: lack of blogging.
Without acting like a bad boyfriend and blaming my absence on other things, I want to apologise for not checking in with you all. This website is one of my favourite places, and I intend to come out from behind my (incredibly warm) duvet and spend some much needed time with you all again. SAD is a real thing, all you have to do is a tiny search on google to figure that out, but what it also is (for me at least) is a manageable thing.
Although I am still sceptical on the use of light lamps to ram up your sun exposure (or at least your fake sun exposure), I’m going include more vitamin D, B and Fatty Acids in my diet (hello all salmon everything) – all proven to help combat depression. I’m going to, no matter how good Orange Is The New Black is, get out side each and every day – even if just for a moment. And I’m going to switch off my television for a couple of evenings a week – seeing as my binge watching has been linked to loneliness.
These are all simple steps that you can take too.
I’m going to start my SAD defeating regime with a short lunchtime stroll tomorrow. Like actually outside and away from the glare of my screen.
Perhaps to buy new socks.