I Have 11 Lamps In My Living Room And It's Still Too Dark; Do I Have SAD?

I fell asleep on the couch at 8pm and slept for 10 hours. Who am I anymore? The dark world of fall/winter is destroying me.
Publish date:
November 8, 2013
mental health, sad, lamps, light therapy

On Sunday, I got to IKEA before it even opened. I was there on a quest. A quest for lamps because my great big living room was a great big sucking hole of darkness and despair. Lamps, I figured, would solve the problem.

Ed and I survived the early-morning IKEA stampede (people take being there right when it opens seriously), and spent three hours browsing various lighting solutions. We went home hopeful, with spotlights, white lampshades, and CFLs in hand.

After an hour or so of rearranging and figuring out how to adapt an Uno-style shade for a harp and finial lamp, we were done. With one switch, we could turn on 8 of the 11 light bulbs in the room. It was bright and cheery and it mostly stayed that way when the sun went down.

I thought we'd found our solution. After all, if my problem is how damn dark it is then the solution is to make the room in which most of my evening gets spent lighter, right?

If only it were that easy. Because apparently it's not that easy.

My friends in just about anywhere other Florida (or Southern California) laugh at me when I complain about Florida winters. Central Florida isn't as mild as South Florida but it's no Fargo, you know? I really do get it -- I live here on purpose because I can tell the instant the temperature drops below 80 degrees and I want to minimize that experience.

What I can't minimize is the lack of daylight. It gets me both coming and going -- either it's so dark in the morning that I can't move no matter how awake my brain was at 5am, or it's so dark in the evening that I am mentally convinced it's 4am when it's really only 7:30.

I realize, especially coming on the heels of my post about social anxiety, that I am presenting as a giant bundle of neuroses right now. Sorry about that! Part of the fun of being bipolar is that it presents in some interesting -- by which I mean "no fun at all" -- ways. Nothing is ever simple, y'all.

Through the magic of Amazon, I now have a Wake-Up Light. So I think I'm making some progress in the morning. Of course, it's now bright again in the morning so I'm not using it.

Should I be using it anyway, do you think? Or should I be browsing the light therapy boxes? It looks like those are mostly meant to be used in the morning, but the evenings are my big problem no matter what time the sun comes up.

I routinely spend most of January huddled under all the blankets I can find, refusing to leave the couch because the floor is so cold. (Our house is old and there's zero insulation under the wood floor. It's like ICE.) The dog is happy to join me in this pursuit. But I have hobbies! And other things I want to get done! I can feel the blankets calling my name, urging me to begin my yearly cocoon early -- "Darkness is for sleeping," they sing, like sirens perched on the edge of the back of the couch.

But I'm resisting -- because this is ridiculous! We invented electric lights for a reason, dammit!

So, please, help. What are your solutions for the dark, dark days of winter? I think I'd actually legitimately die in someplace that experienced six months of darkness a year, but are there lessons I can learn from that and apply to my own wussy Florida experience? I really, really hope so. How are you staying awake when it's inside-of-a-boot-in-a-closet-in-a-coal-mine dark outside?