My Battle with Summertime (SAD)ness

By Debbie Miller

Even if you’ve never been, there’s one thing everyone knows about Arizona: It can get really, really hot.

There have been a few points in my life where the temperature has reached upwards of 120 degrees, but the heat has never really bothered me. Since I was born and raised here, it’s all I’ve ever known.

My family and I have always adjusted for the hot summer months by staying inside with the shades drawn and blasting the AC.  The only time the sweltering temps bother us is when we walk to and from our car to go somewhere. While I love feeling the sun on my skin, I live where heat stroke can happen in a matter of minutes, so for many months of the year I stay inside.

I never thought seasonal depression could affect people in warmer climates.

I was in college the first time I heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I took a basic psychology class as a pre-requisite, and while we studied the chemical and emotional aspects of depression, not once did my professor (or any textbook) say SAD could peak during the summer months for some people.

Last year I went from working in a corporate environment to running my own business from home. I fell in love with the flexibility of working for myself, and loved even more that I could work from the comfort of my own couch.

A few months after the inception of my business I realized the happiness of working alone was replaced by something else – was it loneliness? Despite spending my days alone, I saw my friends and family more with my new flexible schedule. I couldn’t figure out why it was harder and harder to stay motivated and enthusiastic every morning when I loved what I did so much.

My depression became so bad that I confided in one of my best friends. She recommended I see a therapist, because there might have been something in my life affecting me that only a fresh, trained pair of eyes could see. She was right.

It only took one session with my therapist for her to recommend light therapy. She gave me a list of a few lamps she recommended and I ended up purchasing the Aurora Lightpad Mini. I was more than skeptical. I had always spent the majority of my time indoors, even when I worked in an office setting. In my mind, nothing had changed. My therapist swore by it, saying that any lifestyle change can set off depression.

I began to use my lightpad for a half hour every morning when I started work.  After a month of using it, I had more energy and my enthusiasm for my work was renewed. What I thought was loneliness was truly just a state of depression ignited by my newfound, indoor lifestyle.

More than a year later, I still use my lightpad every day. Even through the cool winter months it has helped me maintain a sleeping schedule and helped me from falling back into a slump.  If there’s one thing I’d like everyone to know, it’s that depression can happen to anyone at anytime, and you don’t need a certain reason to try and treat it!