For those in the Northern Hemisphere, the last two weeks have gifted us with noticeably longer days. Here in the PNW we’re gaining around 4 minutes per day, which is pretty significant to my bipolar eye. Also, the last two days have been absolutely stunning – crystal blue skies and sun from dawn until dusk.
Personally, I have had two outstanding, back to back days this weekend. I spent some wonderful time with my husband – we went out and about, driving and shopping. I was in a good mood before we left the house, had positive exchanges with store clerks and even forgot (for a few hours, anyway) about my bipolarity. I’ve also noticed this trend among several of the other bipolar bloggers whom I follow.
And, I believe I can attribute them in part to both the longer daylight hours and sunshine.
During my mini-hypomanic research on Seasonal Affective Disorder and bipolarity, I discovered that 60% of people with any type of depressive symptoms have an elevation in depression symptoms during the winter months. But, does the return of the light also mean we need to watch out for mania? We probably need look no further than studies done on bipolar patients who also use light box therapy, a form of mood therapy whereby one sits in front of a full-spectrum light for at least 30 minutes per day. Apparently, we should, “…Be careful if your diagnosis is Bipolar Disorder. You can still use a light box, and probably should, but there is some risk that you could go into a hypomanic or manic phase. The best time for Bipolar folks to use the light box is in the mid-afternoon. It is also strongly suggested that you stay on, or use a mood stabilizer medication in combination with the light box.”
So, it really isn’t all in my head, is it? The return of the light can spark a return of the light. (OK, not very poetic, but you get the idea.)
I believe the trick from here out is to monitor my good days closely. A bit of hypomania is good. However, I cannot go to the same place I was last summer. Light may bring back the spark, but the fire burned too hot and too bright (and much too destructive) late last spring.
Oh, why can’t there just be a few quiet, normal months? Sometimes I really hate all of this bipolar stuff.