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A Window On My World

This is not a daily blog.
Posts will be published on occasion and irregularly as I am able.
Some of these posts are from my web site The Garden At Crocker Croft.
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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunshine Award

I think nothing sweeter could be said than: You bring sunshine to others. That is the award gift that Balisha gave to me. The award reads: "You are Sunshine, On a Cloudy Day!" I think the same about Balisha and her blog, Never Enough Time, so literally, I could give the award back to her as well.

But, unbeknown to her, this award has special meaning to me, this giving sunshine on a cloudy day. Sunshine is so important to my health that any cloudy day puts me in my lethargic mode and sometimes physical pain.
I am one of the approximately half a million people who suffer of Seasonal Affective Disorder, better known as SAD.

To learn more and for a list of its symptoms go to this link for the following information is blatantly copied from:
The world's longest established support organisation(sic) for Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is SAD?
"SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of winter depression that affects an estimated half a million people every Winter between September and April, in particular during December, January and February.

It is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus due to the shortening of daylight hours and the lack of sunlight in winter.

For many people SAD is a seriously disabling illness, preventing them from functioning normally without continuous medical treatment.

For others, it is a mild but debilitating condition causing discomfort but not severe suffering. We call this subsyndromal SAD or 'winter blues.'"

I am in the first group. If you get wintertime blues, I hope you are in the second. And, if my feeble attempt at writing brings anyone a mood lift, that makes me happy, too. Thank you, Balisha.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad the award brightened your day Barbie. I've heard of this disorder, I didn't realize how painful it was for the people affected by it. Thanks for the information.

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Barbee, congrats on the award. Thanks for the information on S.A.D.

Anonymous said...

There isn't enough room - even on ten blogs - for all the awards you deserve, Barbee.
I couldn't make it thru the week without a trip, or three, to your 'Bluegrass Country' blogs.

Good on you!


Barbee' said...

PGL (Virginia, U.S.A.): Thank you. Yes, it did brighten my day. Wasn't that sweet of Balisha!

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom (Texas, U.S.A.): Thank you, too, Deb. The antics of your monkeys and your blog brighten mine, too.

Bob (Australia): Awwww, Bob, you always make me happy and encouraged. Thank you.

Cinj said...

Congratulations on the award. It can really brighten up your day, can't it?

I am glad my depression isn't as painful as yours (so sorry!), it sure would be wonderful if we could find a way to erradicate all of these chemical imbalances and stuff. Thanks for the information.

Balisha said...

Hello Barbie,
Thankyou for the mention on your blog today. I hope that your days are sunny all winter this year.
I think that last winter was so hard for us in Northern Illinois. Many people seemed to be out of sorts and gloomy. Friends had to make themselves go out and do things to lift their spirits.I have been trying to find things that I will do this winter to make life more interesting.When you are my age it is so easy to do the same things every day. I am just starting a watercolor class...so I will have a new hobby to keep me busy. What do you do to combat this illness?

Barbee' said...

Cinj (Wisconsin, U.S.A.): Thank you, and yes, it was fun and a day brighten-upper (if there is such a word :). I decided to do the disclosure with information in case a reader chances by who has the problem, but hasn't been diagnosed and doesn't know what is wrong. I think it helps to have a name to put on a condition when one is having health problems. To me, it seems to be the first step in taking some degree of control. I seem to have more than one health issue that are similar and could all be parts of some whole in which it is difficult to know where one stops and the other begins: S.A.D., Fibromyalgia, clinical depression and related anxieties and multiple symptoms. Sounds terrible, but I am accustomed to it all, been that way all my life, recognize them, and know what is going on. I can laugh about it, and that is important. Laughter is good medicine. That is why I love all you dear people; you make me happy and pass along contagious smiles.

Balisha (Illinois, U.S.A.): I am sure you never dreamed you were stirring up so much as this. Thank you for your well wishes. You may be farther north than this, but we lived two years at Fort Sheridan (30 miles north of Chicago). I was so busy with four cute, very small children (and a puppy) that I never had time to let the weather get me down. I must say, though, that it was quite the extreme opposite of the climate we had just left in Mobile, Alabama.

You have longer winters than we do. I can see why people would be out of sorts and gloomy. In this locale I have noticed the following: In summertime heat, drivers are testy, irritable, and quick to tempers flaring. In wintertime cold and freezing, they are friendlier, they pull together and help one another.

I have gone the route of working out of the home; going back to college and earning a degree; going to community adult education and recreation classes such as quilting, oil painting, various types of cooking classes, bridge lessons, learning American Sign Language, etc. They were all good. I will be 72 next month, and as the young people say: Been there, done that, don't want to do it again. As my physical abilities waned, I dropped out of clubs and anything that meant I had to get up and go. I told everyone that in my remaining years, I will selfishly do what I want to do and that is: garden, read, write, and blog... year round as much as possible. If I should take up painting, it would be watercolor just as you are doing. Watercolors are my favorites (another thing we have in common?).

Wintertime weather brings on additional pain, but I take medicines (they don't help a lot) and push myself to get out there and do what I can in the garden even if it hurts; I think that is good for me. We go out for lunch with family and friends once a week, so that is something to look forward to. And, with another group of friends once a month. Holidays keep us busy for a while traveling and visiting out of town relatives. I have tried using the full spectrum light bulbs above the kitchen table. That is where I have to sit to read or do paperwork due to back problems. Those chairs make me sit straight and that is the best light in the house due to double windows right there. It is quite comfortable, but I cannot tell that the full spectrum light bulbs have helped any. Then when I really get house bound my favorite thing to do is go visit greenhouses and walk through them and simply enjoy the ambiance; the bright light; the moist warmth; the beauty; breathing deeply the fresh, oxygen filled air. And, everywhere, anywhere I am, I make a conscious effort to look for beauty. And, those are the things I have done to combat this illness.

I must tell you that because of your award I have read further about S.A.D., and in that reading have come across information that I will take to my doctor next week and discuss with him. I never would have found that info if it hadn't been for you. Thank you for thinking of me.

spookydragonfly said...

Congratulations on your award! I'm sorry to hear that you are deeply affected by this...here's hoping that many bright sunny days come your way, Barbee!!

Barbee' said...

spookydragonfly (Ohio, U.S.A.): Thank you very much. I hope so, too, and that is very nice of you. For now, I am enjoying the dragon flies in my garden. They seem to have favorite perches.

Meadowview Thymes said...

You are so deserving of this award. I will never forget how much help you were when I joined blotanical. You spent so much time with me--I was so very touched by your kindness. I am familiar with this disorder, but like pgl, did not the affects were so severe. I wish you much sunshine in the days ahead!

Barbee' said...

Meadowview Thymes (Texas, U.S.A.): You are so kind. Thank you. I enjoyed helping you very much. By your allowing me to help you, you made me feel useful. It is good to feel useful. I kept all those notes in case someone else could use a little help at the start.

With sections of Blotanical currently malfunctioning, I am afraid newcomers will give up on it. I am sure Stuart will find the solution to the problems eventually and get it back to its normal state. It really is a super-great web site for gardeners. It seems to be a Google compatibility change that has occurred. I suspect Google must have changed something. Google owns Feedburner and the problem is with those feeds which have stopped working. Stuart said the slow loading of pages is related to that. I hope Google people will help him, but Google owns Blogger.com and real helps there are few and far between.

Susie said...

Hi Barbie, I'm glad I found your blog. Congratulations on your newest award! Thanks for the info on SAD. I think my sis suffers somewhat from this as well but not so severely.

Barbee' said...

Susie (Mississippi, U.S.A.): Sorry to hear about your Sister having some of this problem. It is amazing how many people are affected by it. Just shows that sunshine isn't important to plants only. Thank you for coming over to check out my blog.

Beth said...

Hi Barbee - congrats on your award! Winters can be very long and very hard up here and I think a lot of people suffer SAD and just don't know it or rather, may not want to admit it.

bare-faced gardener said...

Isn’t it something that these disorders such as SAD and ME are now recognised as real medical problems, instead of the sufferers being thought of as neurotics or layabouts.

I believe I suffer from SAD too, but had no idea that it could be so severe as in your case and be quite so debilatating. I get very low and dare I say, depressed, with the weather that we have in the UK, which is partly why I love the South of France so much (the light is very special, especially for artists) and managed to move there two years ago. (I say there because I’ve just arrived back in England for a week)

Thank you too for all your kind words and help on my blogs & Blotanical. I have to say that I have found it so slow and as you mention earlier, I have spent far too much time trying to navigate around it that I have lost the will to continue (for a while, anyway).

You most certainly deserve all the awards you have been awarded.

PS Chemin means quite a few things : road, route, way, path.

Barbee' said...

Beth (North Dakota, U.S.A.): Thank you! North Dakota, oh my! Maybe we get those feelings as throw-backs to our animalism making us feel we need to hibernate. (Just kidding, but I do wonder sometimes on those days when I feel as though I want to hibernate.)

bare-faced gardener (France): Thank you for the nice newsy comment, and for answering a question I had left on your blog.

Yes, finally these are being recognized by the medical community, the problem is that most sufferers do not look sick. In our everyday lives we cannot, and do not want, to go around with a sign on our backs declaring that we are not strange, or lazy, etc., but are ill. The first words out of mouths are: But, you don't look sick. That may be a compliment, but it is also part of the problem.

When some representatives of the national Fibromyalgia organization were guests on one of the early morning TV shows several years ago, the first words the host said (I think it was Barbara Walters.) were: "You don't look sick." Believe me, there was emotional rehashing of that line in my Fibromyalgia (Fibro) support group later that month. We knew the effort those women had made to look pretty and vivacious for the show. We knew the costs of doing that. We had an idea of what the recovery of that effort would entail and how long it would take.

I remember when I was in my twenties I thought a man in our town was lazy. A few years later he was having heart surgery and that was before it was commonly done. Upon learning the truth, I felt shocked when I realized what I had thought of him. He wasn't lazy, he was ill of a bad heart condition! Shame on me! That taught me a good life lesson in accepting others as they come, because we don't know everything about their lives.

For other bloggers reading this reply, the ME that bare-faced gardener referred to is another name for Chronic Fatigue/Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS). For a poignant first person account by a young person where you might learn a good deal here is a link to her post. It is not long. CLICK HERE

As Fiona points out, we cannot keep up with our friends who are normal, that is when a support group of others who have the same health problem becomes important. We understand one another.

I remember being urged to attend social club meetings. One person said to me, you can do that can't you? I replied that wasn't the problem, the problem is what the effort costs me by the time I get myself ready, get me there, attend the meeting, then get back home... where I may go to bed to recover.

The first support group I attended was one made up of CFIDS patients, because there was not one in town for Fibromyalgia people. The group was already up and running when I learned of it. I joined. Soon holidays were approaching. Someone said: Do we want to have a holiday get-together this year? They all laughed rather loudly. I didn't know why until one member explained that they say this every year, but never do it, because no one has the energy to clean their house in preparation for having company. (The monthly meetings were held in the community room of a Hospice facility, not in members' homes.) So that was a good joke to laugh about with them.

Soon someone formed a support group for Fibro patients and I changed over to that one. It wasn't long until I learned of the demise of the first group which wasn't surprising considering the nature of the illness. People just didn't have the energy to get out and go to the meetings. Five years later, the same thing happened to the Fibro support group. Well, enough about that, and about me. Yuck!

Happy and safe travels. I think England (which I have visited once) in spite of its weather, and the South of France are both wonderful places from what little I know. I need to learn more about that region of France and what it would be like to actually live there. Maybe you could write more about that sometime?

our friend Ben said...

Congratulations, Barbee'! I can't imagine a more appropriate award for a gardener than a Sunshine Award, and in your case, it's richly deserved! I am so sorry to hear about your SAD. I trust you have all the daylight lamps and other gizmos to try to bring more light into the winter darkness. I know how hard it is for me to get moving on an overcast day (ahhh, the temptation to sleep a little longer... ), so I can't imagine what it must be like for you trying to drag yourself through a whole season. Good luck and God bless!!!

Barbee' said...

ourfriendben (Pennsylvania, U.S.A.): Thank you for your kind words. Drag is right! Well, maybe push myself is more true. I sound like one of Dr. Dolittle's pushmi-pullyu (pronounced "push-me-pull-you") animals! :)

Philip Bewley said...

Dear Barbie,
I have missed some posts as my mother was not well, but she is better now after surgery! yay!
So, I am now just reading posts, and I would like to say what a ray of sunshine your blog is to me and I know many others! It is great to talk about gardens and meet people many miles away who are so interesting and fun, like you!
Thank you for posting such important information. You have helped many people undestand this disease.
You are an inspiration when you wrote in an earlier comment
"And, everywhere, anywhere I am, I make a conscious effort to look for beauty"
I will remember that.
Warm regards,

Barbee' said...

philip bewley (California, U.S.A.): Dear, dear, Philip, you are so kind! I noticed your absence, and thought you might be traveling. Sorry to hear your mom is having health problems, but happy that she is better now, and that she has you to help her. Your comment has perked me up today. I needed that. Thank you! We have been doing a lot of clean up in the garden after the wind storm Ike sent us. The temperatures are cooling down and becoming more refreshing. I am behind with my posting, but will catch up soon. Autumn colors are just around the corner!