Posted by: Hannah | 01/29/2013

in which i whine about SAD

Man, the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is really kicking my ass this winter.

It’s been very cold. I don’t have snow tires on my Big Giant People-Mover, and the roads have been icy for a month, so the dayhome kids and I haven’t had any outings.

I’m way overweight. Thirty pounds heavier than when I got married, eight years ago. But I’m miserable, and stressed out, and feeling overwhelmed by my job. I’ve changed my diet quite a lot in recent years, and frankly I don’t want to change anything else. But I need to work – again, still, forever – on mindful eating. And I need to add exercise.

I know this sounds surprising, probably, but running around after half a dozen small children actually ISN’T quality exercise. I’m sure if I had a pedometer it would show several thousands steps per day – from 6AM until 9PM I’m always in motion – but that’s just the don’t-get-deep-vein-thrombosis-from-inactivity motion. To actually start climbing out of this weight hole I’ve dug for myself, I need to do more.

Trouble is, I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to exercise. I’ve never yet found something that I could stick with for any length of time.

I know several SAHMs who take various classes at the community centre nearby. They’ve invited me to come along! I would love to! But the classes are always during the day and that’s no good.


The horrible thing about SAD is that I know it’s to blame for 90% of my ennui. I get like this every January – March. I can look back at a year ago and know damn well I’ve written the same posts.

I know when the weather breaks and I can start getting out for regular walks and outings again that I’ll feel better.

I know that when the kids can play outside more, thus burning off the excess energy that creates most of their more egregiously irritating behaviours, that I won’t feel so hopeless at work.

I know that when I stop trying to hibernate that my snacking will settle down again.

I just wish to Christ I didn’t have to go through this every winter.

It sucks.




  1. Aw, sweetie, I’m sorry. You probably already take Vitamin D, but I’m suggesting it anyway. The good news is January is almost all done, and February is a short month. I’m sorry you feel so crappy. xo

  2. Yes.Yes. Yes. Its so hard to lift myself out of this winter depression. I completely agree with you. Its such a fight to break out of the cycle when a person gets so easily put off by the smallest of things. I think its hard too when ( I have a daycare too) not just the kids need tending but it seems like the whole family of my little clients need tending.

  3. You don’t have to print this – my intention was to refrain from commenting for a couple of weeks to give us both some space – but I’ve so been there and I just wanted to say, be gentle with yourself. You have an incredibly demanding job at a stage of parenthood that is already incredibly demanding. You’re only a year post-partum and it takes time for a body to get its mojo back. Just do what you have to to survive right now because SAD-time is not the time to be depriving yourself of chocolate and trying to to get a fitness program going. I know that stultifying feeling of being trapped and not progressing, but it will not always be this way.

  4. I have SAD, too. I use a therapy light. Have you considered that? I find it makes a qualitative difference. Doesn’t make it all better, but it definitely improves things. A *real* therapy light, mind you. It’s become trendy and there are a bunch of gizmos out there (visors, for example) that claim to be for SAD, are pricy, but are also ineffective. I found mine by checking out the info on the UBC psychiatry department’s website, and looking for a unit with their recommended specs. (That was a few years ago, so I’m not sure the pages I saw still exist, but it’d be a good starting place for research.) I swear by my light box! Half an hour every morning, and my energy levels and mood increase markedly. I don’t get happy, but I do manage ‘content’. It’ll do!

  5. I’ve never gotten a diagnosis but I’m pretty sure I have SAD too. I feel like the life is sucked out of me from late November till the first hints of spring.

    I’ve got a SAD light and it seems to help. I also noticed my mood improved when I took my iron and b12 pills more consistently. (I’m still working on that.) I know it would be hard to find the time, but maybe get checked for low iron/b12.

  6. My naturopath recommended 10,000 IU of vitamin D during the winter (after my blood tests were low on D3). I also use a light, and agree that it’s not magic but it does seem to help (or maybe it’s a placebo effect, but I don’t care either way!). Good luck.

  7. Oh, Hannah, you’re totally doing it tough. You’re in a really tiring stage of life, and have an exhausting job (the noise levels alone would send me batty, so I have massive respect for you to be able to hold it together day after day). Having SAD thrown into the mix is plain old miserable. You’re doing well to carry on, and you are doing more than just carrying on!

    I’ve known a couple of people who have SAD who swear by the light therapy.

    I am all too familiar personally with stress/comfort eating. I found it to be a vicious circle – feel blah about how I look, so eat to feel better, which just adds more weight.

    Everyone is different with what works for them, but I’ve always found that getting active makes a huge difference. Normally for me that’s through walking, but when I was housebound with babies it became Wii Fit, and then Wii Dance, and then Body Rock workouts (16 crazy intense minutes and then it’s over AND boy did I feel like I had accomplished something because those workouts were freaking hard). Plus, it usually helps me to focus on something besides just weight loss – like I want to get a certain score in the Wii Fit boxing or do x star jumps in a certain time, etc. So, even if the weight isn’t shifting I feel like I’m making appreciable progress.

    Maybe you could find one of the other SAHM who would like to do a video / wii / zumba / home-based workout with you and you could each do it on your own a few times a week and then at one of your houses together once a week? I’ve often set up buddy arrangements along these lines in the past and they’ve been the motivation I’ve needed at times to force myself to move – I only do something purely because I don’t want to let down my buddy.

    I know, though, when you’re feeling overwhelmed the very idea of starting something extra seems incredibly daunting. So I’m fully aware that just managing to keep everything you’ve already got happening under control will be quite the achievement in itself!

    Hang in there. Spring is getting closer.

  8. I’m seriously considering doing a yoga DVD during the day with the kids all around because otherwise when is there an opportunity? Maybe the kids would do a dance workout with me…how many times do you think the littlest would get stepped on?

  9. I know what you mean. I am constantly sleepy at this time of year. I tried taking Wellbutrib ut it didn’t seem to make a difference in my energy levels.

    As for the weight, I too am allergic to exercise. If you want to join me on My Fitness Pal, it really does help with the mindful eating because you can SEE what you have eaten that day. Even if you aren’t too focused on how many calories you eat, people who write down everything they eat are double as likely to achieve their weight goals…

  10. I hear you. I’m in the winter funk too. I’m refusing to go outside: two weeks ago I gave myself whiplash falling on the ice. Evil, evil ice. I’ll take snow any day.

    Spring can come any day. I’m really excited now at 5 and 5:30 when it is still light out. That means it’s coming. Hold on… we’re soon there!!

  11. Try the SAD lights, they’re great. I just started this year. When I forget to do it for 2-3 days, I have no energy all day and fall asleep reading to the kids. I should just leave it on the breakfast table.
    Then in the spring, you can do big changes start walking more, or doing a yoga DVD, or whatever works for you.

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