Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SAD? Or Depressed? Or Just an Excuse for Why I Haven't Been Writing?

Now that most of the snow is gone and the switch to Daylight Saving Time signals the end of winter, I can look back at a pretty crappy past three months with a sigh of relief that it’s over.

It started back in early December when the cough, the aches, the malaise, just wouldn’t go away. Not well enough to hit the fitness center, throat too sore to talk, an all-over yucky feeling. Finally on New Year’s Eve day I saw the nurse practitioner, who prescribed an antibiotic and a steroid.

Photo by Cris Anson
Okay, the physical symptoms faded but the malaise lingered. Dark days, sixty-five inches of snow, ice-bound river, cabin fever, inertia, I didn’t even feel like reading, never mind writing. Finally forced myself to look up Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) on Google.

Was that my problem? I’d heard that it makes otherwise-normal people depressed in the winter. You know, cranky, wanting to sleep all the time, ennui, not wanting to see family or friends. According to Wikipedia, it occurs in about 1.4% of the population in Florida but up to 9.7% in New Hampshire. And I’m pretty far up in latitude so I’m more susceptible to it than southerners are.

On the other hand, I was probably also depressed. It was the Christmas season when everyone was supposed to be jolly and looking forward to spending time with family. Only trouble was, my husband and parents are deceased and I never was fortunate enough to have children, so being mostly alone when the media hyped all the warm fuzzies we were supposed to be having contributed to the feeling of depression.

So which was it, SAD or depressed? I didn’t know and I didn’t care. I just wanted to work my crossword puzzles. In my pajamas. While eating chocolates.

When I was Googling I should have looked up those special happy lights that radiate 10,000 lux (whatever that is) so I could sit in front of one every morning for a half hour and feel happy afterward. But being of the Old School, I soldiered on without buying something that many might consider akin to snake oil. Besides, how would UPS get through the snow on my driveway to deliver the package?

BDSM Writers Com 2014
Now it’s mid-March, the sun streams through my windows, the columbines have poked their scalloped leaves out of the soil and I can see the tiny cherry-pink noses of the peonies breaking through the ground. I’ve started planking (you should see the beginnings of my two-pack abs!). I look forward to resuming my research on BDSM.

In fact, I can’t wait until Doctor Charley Ferrer’s BDSM Writers Con August 21-24. I spoke to her a few days ago and the lineup of workshops keeps growing and sounds awesome. Imagine me giving a workshop alongside some of my favorite authors in the genre (such as Joey W. Hill, Desiree Holt, Samantha Cayto and Eden Bradley). Lifestyle practitioners are also lined up, including the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), who will discuss BDSM and the law. Check out the link for more information on what promises to be a dynamite conference.

Liberty States Fiction Writers Con
Even more imminent is the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference this coming Saturday (March 15) at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin, NJ. Twenty workshops will focus on many facets of writing, including forensics, screenwriting tools, mystery, plot, dialogue, alpha heroes, and new publishing frontiers. Almost two dozen editors and agents will be taking one-on-one appointments.

LSFW is my local writers’ group. Looking to reconnect with friends and getting some needed writing energy. And with Sherrilyn Kenyon as our keynote speaker, I’m sure I will.

If you’re in the area, stop by between 4:30 and 6:00 p.m. and cheer me up, or at least say hello; the Book Fair is free and open to the public and I’ll be signing my books, including my latest paperback from Ellora’s Cave, MERCY AND REDEMPTION.
Is there a cure for SAD? Or must we simply wait it out? If you’ve ever experienced it, what have you done to combat this seasonal dreariness that drags us down until we want to curl up in a ball and just vegetate? Please share your insights.

~~ Cris Anson


  1. I suffered from SAD when I lived in Ohio, Cris. Not so much since I became a snowbird in Florida. But I gave my lightbox to my friend Jill who can't just move away. And yeah, I'm single too and spent many Christmases on my own. Writing a Christmas story was quite therapeutic, however.

    Take care!

  2. I am excited about the conference in NY. It sounds exciting. I love Dr. Charley. She introduced me to fire play and I'm addicted. I already have depression and take meds for it but I have noticed that when I use a tanning bed even for 2 minutes, I am more upbeat and ready to face the world.

  3. I have SAD, and like Susana, it's not too much of a problem in Florida. When I lived in MD, we had one spell of ten days or so of gray, dismal rain. My position at work was in front of a floor to ceiling window, so there was no way to get away from it. By the tenth day, I was at the point that I was ready to do damage. Luckily, my husband dropped in to surprise me at work. He took one look at me, grabbed my manager and said "I am taking my wife home."

    When it does happen (Hurricane Fay sat on top of us for nine days a few years back), I turn on every light in the house. I put on upbeat music. I dance or exercise for the endorphin rush. I apply therapeutic chocolate.

  4. Have your doc check your Vit D levels. Most women are way downnnn on their levels in the winter--which contributes to SAD AND depression. Per my doctor's orders, I take Vit D3 every day. And I have a bunch of sun lamps--especially desk lamps. One on my desk. One on the table in my office. Since that's where I spend a lot of time, I get a lot of light! They're reasonably priced at Home Depot or Lowes. I use them all year round. And finally, 15 minutes outside on every sunny day, even cold days will help significantly.

  5. My mom and I seem to have a mild form of it - starts in December and goes away in March...we try to take as
    many walks as possible. Our family doctor dosed her up on Vit D,
    but he found my levels ok...but yeah, sunshine certainly
    does make the difference. This is the second winter in
    a row I have experienced this lousy mood and it has affected my reading and writing in a negative way.
    Thinking I may get a treadmill...not sure if that will help but hey, they say exercise releases endorphins to make you happy.
    Glad you are feeling better, Cris! :-)

  6. Wow, thank you all, ladies, for your honest comments. It makes me feel so much better that I'm not alone in thinking it's more than just me being---I don't know, pouty or childish. I'll certainly look into all those possibilities. The one I like most is to have a sun lamp at my desk. Maybe that will help me spend more time writing and less time surfing LOL.

  7. I suffer from SADD. The way to combat it is sunlight, exercise and knowing that you have it. I walked every day of this dismal winter and did a lot better.

  8. You're not alone. Far from it. I too have "regular" depression that I take meds for, but this winter has been brutal. I've known for years that the dark days of winter were harder for me than for the average person around me, but it wasn't until this absolutely horrible winter (she said as a blizzard raged outside) that I really felt like the SAD took over. I have a light and I admit I don't use it as often as I should. I thank God I went to Wild Wicked Weekend a few weeks ago. It truly was my saving grace to be able to sit out in the sun and warmer temps. I honestly think I would've lost it if I hadn't. And my writing? It may seem like I did a lot, but I really didn't. My major upcoming release and my longest January release were both books I wrote earlier in 2013. I haven't written much and now I'm finally getting back into it. I take 4000IU of Vitamin D a day (that's a fair amount) and try to get into the sunlight whenever I can. And when I feel crappy? I go to bed and read. I could push through it, but why suffer and beat myself up? This too shall pass.

  9. Glad you're feeling better, Cris. This winter has been particularly hard for me. I haven't been able to write at all. I can't concentrate or focus. I was beginning to feel as though I may have come to the end of my writing. Yesterday I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary and my husband took me away for three days last weekend. That little trip was a boost. Seeing something different besides the inside of the house and business stimulated my mind. Better days are ahead. This crumby weather can't last forever and with each passing day, we get closer to warmth and sunshine.

  10. Cassandra, you make a great case for Wild Wicked Weekend. I haven't gone because I loathe traveling by air in the wintertime, but if it helps my SAD....

    Robin, it seems like you had the same boost as Cassandra by leaving the area for a bit. Hmmmm.

    Thanks to you both and to D'Ann as well for commenting.

  11. My hubby suffers from SAD. Dr. finally prescribed sleeping under a full spectrum light. We have it on a timer. It comes on an hour before the alarm goes off. Suprisingly it doesn't wake either one of us. Doesn't bother me and he's MUCH improved. It's well worth trying.

  12. Thank you for sharing, ebookauthor. I had misgivings about posting my problem, thinking that some might see it as sniveling or much ado about nothing. I'm amazed at how prevalent SAD is and I welcome everyone's suggestions and comments.