Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Six Months of SAD

For the last five years we have had a battle in our home. Its a fight with an invisible enemy. An enemy that sneaks in with the fading heat of summer and tries to rob me of a son. That tries to rob my son of his life. Of his smile, his joy, his energy and his family.

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.

F. Scott

"In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning, day
after day."


Vanessa said...

I don't really share this info either with many folks, but your post got me to thinking about my own life battles. Know that this is in deed REAL and I know EXACTLY what you guys are facing!! If you ever need to talk send me an email and i can send you my phone number vabyouangel@aol.com I know how hard it is to talk to others around who have no understanding of what's happening. I'll be praying for your sweet little boy and your family as well! Stay strong as you already know i'm sure ALWAYS take his depression and suicidal thoughts seriously!! I"m sending HUGE cyber hugs your way!

Unknown said...

Thanks Vanessa :) I might take you up on that. We just ordered a new set of lights (wow have they gotten smaller in the last 5 years) and we have upped his vitamins this year. So far, no bad thoughts but the PHYSICAL symptoms are very, very real. And yes, of course we will always, always take it seriously.

Anonymous said...

Hugs Jen!

Perhaps a move to Hawaii is in order...and can you take me too?!

pam said...

I too suffer from SAD. I didn't know when I moved to this beautiful place 18 years ago that although the summers are fantastic we rarely ever see the sun in the winter. Already I feel as though my body and my brain are encased in concrete. Give T a big hug for me. He is so lucky that you are his mom.

Anonymous said...

I think that's what J has! As I read this it feels like I'm reading about my own child. Just today I was wondering again why he had such huge bags under his eyes, why he's so sad and lethargic again and we go through regular cycles of him talking about how life would be easier if he were dead. And as I think about it, always a few month into the start of school but not school related. So sensitive about everything, me wondering why he's so clingy and needy and not understanding. He's my baseball boy, outside soaking up the summer sun for hours a day, laughing with ease and during the winter getting maybe an hour of sun a day (if we get any). I'm going to do some research on this! Thanks Jen for sharing this struggle with us, I always cry, laugh or learn when I am here.

Unknown said...

Dana and Pam, thanks for sharing!

And Dana - costco has the most awesomest lights (we just got our new ones for Tanner) and they work totally amazingly. I'd start there and with a vitamin supplement. The suicidal thoughts are just scary. I think until you are TOLD about it it all sort of blends together -- but when we REALIZED what T had ... it was like a light went off.

Kristy said...

Hi-- I just found your blog but I follow your posts on the BB.

My aunt has SAD as well, and she has foudn amazing relief in tanning ( like tanning bed tanning). Definately add the sunscreen and use a low setting in the booth, and be cautious of skin cancer and whatnot, but she finds that twice a week, for ten minutes in the booth, is like a weekend in Florida! I dont know how she'd make it without that time...just something to htink about!