Our enemy snuck in slowly. We didn't notice we were at war at first.
A child too tired to trick-or-treat? A little guy not excited for Christmas and Santa's arrival? Is he sick? Something going on at school? What are we doing wrong?
Now we recognize when we are under attack, because like clockwork every fall a thief arrives embodied in the heart and soul of our child.
The first sign is the dark circles under his eyes. Then the weepiness follows shortly. Lethargy arrives thereafter. And if we are unawares or unprepared or just too busy to notice, suicidal thoughts sneak their way into our lives.
"Mommy, did you think alot about dying when you were my age?"
"Mommy, do you ever think it would just be easier to be dead?"
Questions that stop the heart of a mother. Questions that force you to face the reality that your child, your beautiful, amazing, perfect in every way child is facing a battle they cannot win alone. Questions that force you out of denial and into action to save your child from themselves.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a chemical reaction in your body that causes depression when you do not have enough exposure to sunlight. It affects many people to various degrees. It affects our son to an extreme degree. He is two different people depending on the season.
There is the summer child. Blond hair lightened to almost glowing white, twinkling eyes and an easy smile. A healthy glow that belies the battle we know is soon to follow September.
There is the winter child. Dark circles, a smile that never reaches from his mouth to his eyes. Tears always under the surface. A sadness the belies the joy we know spring will bring to his soul.
We live in winter country. When time change arrives next week, the sun will slip behind the hills at 4:30pm not to be seen again until 7 or 8 the next morning. And we lose another piece of our son.
I do not often share the exact labels, diagnosis or battles we deal with in our family but fighting SAD is a battle many don't even know they face. Special lights offer an almost unbelievable relief for those with this condition. Vitamins support our son by offering him what our weak Canadian winter son doesn't. Counselling helped him address those suicidal thoughts and gave him the internal power to deal with stressors that were triggering him continually to think that life wasn't worth living.
We count the days until we have our son in his wholeness of spirit, joy and energy back. We wait for March to spring our boys out of the prison of snow, clouds and cold weather and send them back into the yard to absorb the life and warmth of the sun.
Depression is real. SAD is real. It's real in a 5 year old. It's real in a 35 year old. It's real in our family.