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SAD and Me

November 16, 2008
by Kathleen Mears
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The beautiful uptown Somerset Ohio Square.
(Photo: OZinOH)

The shorter days and cooler temperatures darken my mood. My appetite increases and then I want to hibernate. I have felt this way each fall ever since I was a child. I used to think it was because school started again. That may have been part of it, but I realized that I was physically challenging to just get through the days. When I first heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) many years ago I was surprised. But I felt a bit relieved that my feelings were not specific to me.

When I first came to the nursing home, one of the nurses discussed seasonal depression and the fact that light therapy was supposed to help. She suggested I try it but I found that the cost for a light was prohibitive.

My sister's Halloween visit at that time provided a respite from my SAD symptoms. Since it was a beautiful sunny day in the upper 60s she suggested that we go uptown to have lunch. It is no mean feat to get uptown from the nursing home. We headed out; my sister walking and I in my power chair. Uptown is half a mile away and mostly uphill. The two lane state highway leading there is busy. We went part way up the road facing traffic and then we used the sidewalk and traveled as far as I could go on it.

My sister played traffic cop during our trek. We had to be very careful with the cars and trucks whizzing by. But we made it. We had planned to dine at the small snack bar but found that it had two steps and no ramp. Luckily a table and chairs were set up outside. So we had lunch, got some sun, and soaked up local culture. My sister, a world traveler for business and pleasure, told me that the small town here is much like those in Europe where you eat in the town square with traffic buzzing around you.

Our lovely home-cooked lunch and chat made us feel happy and refreshed. Facility staff are always surprised that we like to go on these sojourns uptown. But it is nice having an adventure in the middle of an ordinary day.

My time is limited outdoors especially in bad weather. I need to be busy and outside I can only sit or ride around in my power chair. After an hour I am searching for something to do. Therefore, short weekly outings are better. On outings I enjoy riding in the parking lot. Recently I traveled the quarter-mile between a strip mall and a nearby restaurant by myself. Though I was not on the street I did cross access roads and negotiate steep driveways. I like to do this because it helps me fight the fear factor. During my ride my driver followed in the van at a discrete distance. I usually have no problems because most drivers are courteous. Setting out on my own alone gives me a sense of independence. I do really take responsibility for my own well-being. I think we need that at any age.

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I wish more had such an optomistic attitude. Very well written. Thank you!

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Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...