Beat Winter Blues
I’ve been having a rough time lately. Over the past couple of weeks, I just couldn’t seem to break out of this slump I was in. It started with a bad attitude about autism. Sort of an, I’m sick of dealing with autism. I’d say things to myself like, “God, I wish he would just go to bed without screaming for 30 minutes.” I usually have these moments about 2-3 times a year. Where, I am just done. It sounds horrible to say out loud, but after a certain level of random spontaneous screaming, TV head-butting, wall-kicking, tantruming, and constant wet underwear, I start to lose my patience with autism. I know it’s not Ethan’s fault, and of course I still love my son. It’s just sometimes I’d like to say you know what autism F* off! Many parents with children on the spectrum can probably relate to this sentiment. Luckily, Heather recognized my bad attitude and stepped up to keep me sane. Unfortunately, the next week, I still had a bad attitude, but not specifically toward autism. Just starting to get caught up in busyness, the to do list, worrying about finances… Then of course this progressed into the next week and the next where I start to get upset over being upset. Silly as it may sound.
One of my focuses of this year is to live more in the present, and be more mindful. Simply put, just be happy with my life no matter what the situation. Now, I’m upset because I’m not happy, and I haven’t been present for weeks now. I feel like I’m doing everything right to help me stay present, but I can’t seem to get my body to stop being sad. I’ve been keeping my gratitude journal. I write in it every morning and every evening before bed. I have meditated everyday since the year began. I’ve been talking myself through everything and saying all the right things to myself, but nothing. I still wake up feeling down. So, I decided to follow the old adage “desperate times call for desperate measures”. It was time to something drastic; something I’ve never done before. I went to the tanning salon.
My slump had both Heather and myself trying to figure out what was happening to me and why I wasn’t able to break out of it. We wondered if it was perhaps a side effect of GAPS. Am I feeling depressed because my biochemistry is off as my body is trying to repair and fight off the overgrowth of bad microbes in my gut? Possibly, but I don’t know. Perhaps it was this cold and sinus issue that’s got me down. Nope, that can’t be because I was feeling blue before I got sick.
I started to think, vitamin D is responsible for so many functions in the body. Perhaps, if I was able to spike natural production of vitamin D, I could at least get over this bug. My doc did say I am low in vitamin D too. Then, I remembered that low levels of vitamin D have been found in patients suffering from depression and other mental health problems. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing, and the winter blues happen for a reason. Okay okay; I’m convinced. Let’s give it a try.
I texted Heather and told her I was considering going tanning. Her instant response via iMessage was “UV rays for health?” I was impressed that she was able to figure that out straight away. She then, responded with try it for a month and see what happens. *Side note: I thought to myself, “this is going in my gratitude journal in the morning. I’m quite lucky to have such a smart and supportive wife.” **See, I told you I was still able to say all the right things to myself. Anyway, I digress.
I found a place online and made the decision to go. Heather practically pushed me out the door that night. Even though I was trying to do the dishes and help clean up from dinner, she sensed my unhappiness and said, “Go tanning; I got this”.
I tried to look the part, or at least what I thought the part would look like. I must admit; I was nervous going into a tanning salon. So, I broke out my best V-neck tee and flip-flops. I pulled up to the salon expecting to be the only customer. As I parked, I saw three women waiting, and I was panicked. I sat in the car for several minutes before summoning the courage to walk inside. After about 25 minutes, I finally make it back to the tanning bed. Lay down. The lights kick on and my first reaction was, man that’s loud. Who knew those things were loud. While under the lights, I tried to meditate. My mind kept wondering, but I did my best to be mindful and soak in the healing rays. After 12 minutes, the lights kick off and I head home. As I’m driving home, I feel more relaxed. I’m wondering if it’s just because I’ve been laying down for 12 minutes, or did this really help. I was tested as soon as I walked into the door at home.
The kids should be in bed at this time, and they are. However, Ethan has Heather pinned down in his room. He doesn’t want to give up Mommy. Heather and I don’t get a ton of time together without kids, so of course, I want Mommy too. The very same thing happened a couple of weeks ago, and I remember being very annoyed and hoping he would just go to bed without a fuss. Tonight, however, I sat down next to them on the bed. Kissed Ethan and told him good night. Heather tried to get up from the bed, and Ethan got very upset. He was trying to tell Heather he wanted her to lay down, but the words were jumbled together and scrambled. We knew what he wanted, and then he pulled me down to the bed and pushed me down. He jumped on top of me and covered us both with his blanket. Again, 2 weeks ago this would have annoyed me because of my poor mental state. Tonight, I was here! Tonight, I was present! Tonight, I scooped him up, and said c’mon buddy. Come cuddle with Daddy and watch West Wing (our current Netflix obsession) with Momma and me. I very much enjoyed the snuggles with him. I was able to truly appreciate the moment as we watched two episodes of The West Wing. He fell asleep on me somewhere in the first.
The next day, I woke up feeling at peace. My belly was a little bit pinker and tender to the touch, but my mind was better. My body was still tired, still sinus-y, but not as bad. I felt like a completely different person. I felt more like myself. I definitely believe the tanning bed did help me produce some vitamin D and is responsible for this immediate mental turnaround. I’ve finally broken from my slump. The upswing continues, and 3 weeks later, I’m still doing well.
If you’re feeling down, why not go tanning. It may not work for everyone, but it certainly helped me.I’m now a believer. I don’t plan on keeping the tanning membership long term. I’ll probably cancel after another month, and then just make sure I get outside more now that it’s warmer.
If you do decide to give this a try, you want the basic, basic bed. You want more UVB rays over the UVA rays. You won’t get as tan, but you’re going for mental/physical health anyway not a bronze complication.
Here are a couple articles I found interesting on Vitamin D and the cancer risk of tanning beds.