This was the first winter I used a SAD lamp. This one to be specific.
It kinda looks like an ipad, and doubles as a handy tracing device for drawing, too. Took a long time to decide on shelling out almost fifty quid for it – maybe that’s why it took me five years. That’s how long I’ve been getting the SAD twinges in the darker months. But procrastinating, finding it impossible to get out of bed, pointless obsessing, being unfocused – they’re pretty vague or variable symptoms. I just thought life stuff was getting on top of me.
I bought the lamp a bit too late – December. But used it every morning. Just turned it on while I was getting ready to go out or had it shine on my face next to my computer for an hour before it got light – same again before dark in the evening.
It’s now April. I can look back on the past 4-5 months and can clearly see it has not been as rough as the last few winters. Nothing in my life changed dramatically – same old concerns. But on a few memorable occasions I definitely noticed that instead of going inside my worries, I didn’t care about them! I don’t mean I felt numb – where you’re not feeling your feelings but you know you ought to be. I was happy despite them. It was like there was an invisible buffer or membrane separating mind and emotion.
Usually I have to go through at least eight of these steps to shake off a bad bout of winter, so I know something’s lightened me up. It has to be the light, right?
Are retinopathy and SAD linked?
So here’s the other thing. I’m a Type1 diabetic, insulin dependent. And about five years ago I had extensive laser treatment in both eyes to treat my (quite bad) retinopathy. I was incredibly lucky – kept my sight, tightened my blood glucose control and my eyes are awesome again.
But the treatment has some weird side effects. My eyes are much more light sensitive. I can’t go without sunglasses because if it’s even a bit bright outside, I get a headache. When I go from dark to light – like stumbling from dim bedroom to bright bathroom – the fast contraction of my pupils pulls on the scar tissue left from the laser treatment. This causes blinding random flashes in my vision. The first big thunderstorm I encountered after this started happening was a bewildering experience – it felt like the lightning was happening inside my head!
So my retinas have changed, and as light is absorbed through the eyes, I’m curious – are my scarred retinas getting less light than they used to? And if SAD is a condition caused by lack of light, is it just coincidence that I really noticed the SAD symptoms after the laser treatment? Hell now I’m even wondering if contact lenses affect the light to the eyes.
I’m hoping someone with a medical background might shed some light on the matter.