Living with Seasonal Affective Disorder
encouragement, God's Beauty, God's love, Loss, My Walk, Relationships, Traveling, Wisdom

SAD: Why Living in the PNW is Hard.

SAD: Why Living in the PNW is Hard
SAD: Why Living in the PNW is Hard

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Living in the Pacific Northwest is Hard

Almost four years ago my little family and I returned to the Pacific Northwest. This relocation has been a struggle for several reasons, but one of the biggest struggles we’ve had to deal with is my ongoing battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder–SAD. Although the struggle didn’t start out as hard as I expected it to be, it has recently gotten worse.

I spent four years living in the desert, a place where it was sunny almost every day. On those rare occasions when it wasn’t, every part of me knew it. Those days were miserable for me, and made me grateful for each and every sunny day.

I also realized how blessed I was to no longer be living in the PNW.

The LORD had other plans for my little family though, and one day we packed up and headed back to the trees and mountains I’d grown up around. The PNW is beautiful. There is no denying that, but to be beautiful it spends quite a bit of time gray and dreary. For someone who needs the sunshine to be mellow and happy, the trade-off comes at a high price.

Summer Makes Me Come Alive

Today is beautiful. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and there is just the right amount of breeze rustling the trees. Spring is here, and summer is approaching. I’ll be honest and say summer makes me come alive.

The past few months have been hard for me. Our family thrives on schedules and routines because, when it comes to me living in a state that spends close to six months a year with little sunshine, routines help me to not completely become a hermit. It also keeps the SAD from getting so out of control that I end up becoming a shadow of myself.

Sadly, this year those schedules and routines haven’t helped as much as they have in the past.

Making the Connection

I can’t really lock down when this ongoing battle became noticeable;  when the depression started interfering with my life. All I know is one day I realized I’d started putting off going places. I’d started finding reasons to not leave the house–to excuse myself and my family from social events because they felt like obligations–and that feeling stressed me out.

During the winter months I struggled with this a lot. Since the loss of my father and the suffocating feeling I had from the bleakness of the weather, I found myself leaving my home less and less. I’ve stepped away from several things I enjoyed doing, because I couldn’t convince myself the recovery time it would take me afterward was worth it.

The only things I’ve managed to maintain throughout this time are things directly involved with my children. No matter how hard it is for me, I don’t want to let them down. They enjoy their time at AWANA and Classical Conversations community day.  It wasn’t (and isn’t) their fault that I have a hard time functioning without glorious sunshine.

I’m Worried Too

My husband worries about me, and my friends worry about me. They’re afraid I’m not just going to become a hermit, but a full-fledged shut in.

If I’m honest, I’m worried about that as well.

You see, I love my church, but when this suffocating sensation turns to panic at the thought of leaving my home Sunday morning and facing people, I know there is reason to be concerned.

Today, I’m feeling great, and that knowledge can lull me into a false sense of security. It can cause me to forget the way I feel when it isn’t sunny and beautiful.

Sunlight therapy isn’t enough (though, I highly recommend adding it if you suffer from SAD!), and neither is the medication I gave in and started taking four years ago.

I need God to help me through this, the same way I need Him in every aspect of my life.

Blessings, 

Sare Signature

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encouragement, Joy, Loss, My Walk, Relationships, The Fallen World, Wisdom

What I Remember: Tea with My Father

What I Remember: Tea With My Father--Memories are a wonderful thing to hold onto when your loved ones are no longer with you. A nice cup of Irish Breakfast Tea helps me to remember rainy mornings with my dad.

Today is my father’s birthday. He’s no longer here to celebrate it, but each year on this day, I still say a prayer and send him a wish. It’s quiet, and it’s ours.

Memories Can Be Sweet

When I was in junior high and high school, my father and I would get up early in the morning, before either of us had to leave for the day, and we’d drink Irish Breakfast tea in the quiet kitchen. Living in the PNW meant waking up to complete darkness and rain streaking the windows. Tea was a perfect accessory to strengthen our resolve to leave the house.

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Even today I enjoy Irish Breakfast Tea

It was a calming ritual that made even the worst days a little easier to deal with. That short amount of time was always a wonderful experience, especially considering neither my father nor I were morning people.

The pang of my father’s absence still lingers in my heart; sometimes more poignant than others. This morning was one of those moments where sweet memories I hadn’t thought of in years flooded my heart. I found it fitting that they came to me while spending time with my Heavenly Father, and drinking my morning cup of Irish Breakfast tea.

Memories Help Us Grow

Though my father is no longer physically with me, and we haven’t shared the early morning silence of a rain-soaked morning since I graduated from high school, those moments led to the moment I had this morning. Everything we experience in life leaves a mark on us, whether good or bad. These experiences with my father leave me with the desire to make similar memories with my children.

Remember today to embrace the good moments, even amid the chaos and pain of living life in this fallen world. God doesn’t promise it will be easy, but He does promise it will be worth it.

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My Walk

Seek His Face Always

We are all busy, and we all have important things we need to get done each day. Make time for the Lord, even if it is just a few minutes.

Recently a dear friend of mine was in town from Hawaii, and we managed to find the time for a quick lunch before her flight back to the island. Before her move to Oahu, and my subsequent move from California to the PNW, we never went longer than a few months between visits. This visit marked the first time in over a year since we’d seen each other.

Our friendship has been entirely built on distance and technology. We met in an online writer’s group several years ago, and eventually bonded over the personalities and traits of our fictional characters. We have never lived in the same place at the same time, and in the course of our relationship we’ve spoken on the phone only a handful of times. Yet, we are truly friends. Even though our friendship is unconventional, and some might think, impractical, it works for us. We often like to joke that we were one of the few ‘blind dates’ that actually worked out.

Now, once she left, it hit me how much I’d missed her while we were apart. Our lives recently have been busy (she’s planning her upcoming wedding, and I’ve been busy preparing to homeschool my daughter), and we haven’t connected as often as we used to. It amazed me how easy it was to ignore the daily pangs of separation. To push those feelings down, and focus on the day to day tasks of living.

This happens all too often in our personal lives, not just with the people we care about, but with God as well. It might start out as a busy day when we don’t have ‘time’ to open the Bible. It might happen on a night when we’re too tired to pray before we fall asleep, or in too much of a hurry to check in with the outside world in the morning to whisper a prayer of gratitude for the beginning of another day. We might think one day won’t hurt, but what happens when the next day is also busy? Eventually, we’ve pushed those important moments of connection with the Lord so far down our list of priorities we no longer feel the pangs of separation.

Just like any friendship, the relationship we have with Him takes time and commitment. We can’t expect to go on about our daily lives, forgetting Him, and expecting that eventually all those lost moments aren’t going to crash on us. The loneliness we often feel has little to do with the people physically around us, and more to do with a loss of time spent with the Lord.

We are all busy, and we all have important things we need to get done each day. Make time for the Lord, even if it is just a few minutes. A quick prayer of thanks, or a moment of scripture reading can give you the energy and the focus to get through the ups and downs of everyday.

Yes, I am new to this, and I stumble more than I’d like, but each time I turn to Him for help, things right themselves, and I find my footing is steadier.

 

“Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11

Blessings in Christ,

Sare