If you are a member of 1 in 5 people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, you can take a deep breath with me.
Don't worry. I'll wait.
Breathe, my friends...
Another winter is behind us.
I woke up today and realized I had made it. The birds are singing and the days are long and sweet.
This is big for me because I normally suffer from severe seasonal depression. I've tried everything... medication, Happy Lights, gaggles of supplements and oils, and even intense, daily, inside exercise. But nothing really helped until this year... when I combined a strong supplement with walking 15+ miles OUTSIDE each week.
My only goal was to watch the sun come up. The distance didn't make any difference although I tried to get in a 5k every day. The side effect was nothing short of a miracle... for the first time in my adult life, I didn't experience seasonal depression. Rain or shine, I would be out there, often with friends, walking around a lake, across a bridge, over the river and through the woods. Spotting herons, eagles, coyotes, deer, and even the occasional odd human who decided that being up and outside before dawn in January wasn't completely crazy.
I watched the sun come up Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, every week. I kept waiting for the depression to drop on me like a wet blanket of sadness. But it never really took hold. Each time I would get outside and commune with nature, my body would refresh... even if it was 38 degrees and pouring rain and we only got a mile... I did it. No matter the weather. I got outside and moved in nature every single day. And it became the lynch-pin in a plan for my mental health.
This morning I crossed the milestone of walking over 100 miles so far in 2016.
There are so many stories I can tell you. That day where Jessica and I had to skate our way across the parking lot to the path, only to find that it, too, was covered in a thick blanket of ice and had to settle for walking around the baseball diamond. The huge pile of laundry in my room because I needed two base-layers, doubled wool socks, and several of the best, thickest coats you could buy. The day where we gave up because it was 25 degrees and the fog was so thick it cut through our winter jackets and burned our fingers through our gloves. The other day that same week that Rhianna and I walked in 5.3 miles in 24 degrees and somehow were not cold. The sunrises and good talks and communing with my friends and God and the world around me...
I can't recommend it enough.
At the risk of being dramatic, I think it changed my life.
And now it's spring. I am passed another winter and I barely noticed it at all.