Who here has a vitamin D deficiency? I definitely do. While the diagnosis is becoming more common, it took me over seven years to be properly diagnosed. And in the meantime I experienced one of the common symptoms each and every winter – depression – which is not a good way to start any new season.
I’ve long been attracted to the sun. I love large windows and skylights. I generally drive with the cover on my sunroof open so the light can come in. I grew up in Los Angeles where seasons are generally always sunny and above 55 degrees. We had some “cold” weather, but it wasn’t until I went to college in upstate New York that I really started to understand what a winter was. Granted I had visited Philadelphia and Boston during the winters to see family growing up, but living in the weather day in and day out is a different story. When winter started and I felt less motivated and more tired, I would tell friends that I was a California girl and just missed the sun. I actually wasn’t that far from the truth.
I’ve spoken before about my last year in New York in the post about Wild. What I didn’t elaborate on in that post was that both before and after my breakup I had put myself in therapy to talk about how I was feeling. Through those sessions I realized I needed to end my relationship. But even after I did that, my feelings of sadness didn’t end. It was easy at first to attribute that to the breakup. After all, even if you know ultimately you will be better off apart, the initial separation and loneliness takes a toll. I felt lonely. I felt unmotivated. I was unable to make a decision. I felt lost. I felt like sleeping all the time. I felt like a darker version of myself. And given all these feelings, it was ultimately recommended that I take an anti-depressant. That lasted three days and then I stopped taking them. They weren’t for me. I hate drugs, preferring most herbal remedies to actual medicine, and thinking that I was depressed was just too much. There was no way I could be depressed. I blamed my sadness on New York and moved.
If it isn’t obvious yet from my other posts, let me just say that I am a my glass is always overflowing, life is amazing type of person. When I am sad, I don’t think people know what to say as I am almost never sad or mad or angry. And if I am any of those things, it is never more than a fleeting moment. My husband calls me his sunshine. I wasn’t used to being sad, and I didn’t want to be. Those feelings just didn’t fit with my personality.
What happened between New York and San Francisco is discussed in this post, so I won’t go into it again here. I left New York in March and moved to San Francisco in November, and again the feelings I had in New York were back. I was sad. I was lonely. I was anxious about everything so I made very fast and awful decisions. I wasn’t patient. I wanted to sleep in all the time. I was unmotivated to be social. I was again a darker version of myself, living in a state that I ironically thought would solve the problem. (Yes, I know – San Francisco can be cold and cloudy and not warm. But you get the point.)
This time I made an appointment with a natural medicine doctor. I told him how I was feeling and he had me answer a series of questions to confirm if I was depressed. I was borderline, so he decided to take some blood. When the results were in, I was immediately put on a three month vitamin D supplement plan which started with 10,000 IUs of vitamin D a day. My vitamin D levels were roughly 8, and I was told normal starts at roughly 30. I had the lowest levels he had ever seen to date, and he didn’t know how I was even functioning as well as I had been. We made a follow up appointment and hoped for the best.
And it worked. Over the next several months we weaned me off that high daily volume of vitamin D and my levels have been normal for a few years now. I can notice the symptoms in my body and my mood at the start of every fall, and I now self-regulate my intake throughout the fall and winter. I am beyond thankful to the doctor for taking a blood test, and honestly, I am thankful to myself for not giving up and giving in to the sadness.
My main thought when it comes to your health is when you know, you know. Call it your gut or your intuition or your fairy godmother, but when you know something is up, you know. Being in tune with your body takes time and energy and an openness by you to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Keep asking questions until you get an answer that gives you peace.
If you’d gone through a similar situation, or know someone who has, we’d love to hear your story. Comment below.