Is Seasonal Affective Disorder Real?

It comes in and blankets your heart like the fallen snow.

You’ll feel the shadow slithering in around autumn until your heart pushes through the dark earth to find the sun once again – around the same time the daffodils are emerging through the soil of the flower beds.

What is this villain?

S.A.D. – Seasonal Affective Disorder

is seasonal affective disorder real


Is seasonal affective disorder real?

I’ve come across a number of articles and studies this year that claim S.A.D. doesn’t exist. Like this one from the Department of Psychology, Auburn University at Montgomery, AL:

Results do not support the validity of a seasonal modifier in major depression. The idea of seasonal depression may be strongly rooted in folk psychology, but it is not supported by objective data. Consideration should be given to discontinuing seasonal variation as a diagnostic modifier of major depression. ~ source


This has had me a bit angry as I experience mild symptoms and know of friends who experience even greater symptoms. What’s going on here? It took years to get to the point where S.A.D. was finally considered diagnosable and, in some cases, offered insurable treatments.

I’m personally going to continue believing S.A.D. is real, diagnosable and treatable. After years of scientific studies to investigate and reveal the connections between the seasons and this change in mood, I’m not going to discount this disorder after a few new studies. Mental health issues are real and when so many people give personal accounts of the changing of the seasons affecting their mental well-being there has to be something to it.

So in light of my continuing belief that it’s real, here are handful of common symptoms reported by those with S.A.D.

  • Depression
  • Poor concentration
  • Carb cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue/low energy
  • Feelings of apathy
  • Increased sleep
  • Interpersonal difficulties
  • Heavy feelings in legs and arms
  • Irritability


Also, I wanted to note a few more insights:

  • Between 60% and 90% of individuals with S.A.D. are women.
  • This illness seems to increase in people who live further from the equator.  North American studies have shown 1.5% of those in Tampa, Florida report having this as opposed to 9% in New Hampshire.
  • Oddly enough, in Iceland, not many people experience this.  Studies show there may be a cultural element that certain areas of the world have adapted to how they live life in these darker day environments. These cultural factors include genetics, exercise, socialization and diet.

If you feel you suffer from S.A.D. it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor.

Don’t just ignore how you feel and hope things change in the spring.

Your doctor will want to know how long this had been a problem for you. If this is the first year you’ve experienced these symptoms your doctor isn’t likely to diagnose you at this point. A diagnosis usually requires more than one symptomatic season. However, still make the appointment and go see the doctor. He can offer help through this season and it’s always good to have it noted in your medical file for reference if you suffer the same problems next year!

Some will have milder forms of seasonal mood disorders but not quite depression. This is more commonly known as “winter blues” and may respond well to light therapy (example, Light box with 10,000 lux florescent lights or exposure to sun) and Vitamin D supplementation.

Other forms of S.A.D. management include:

  • Anti-depressants/medication
  • Tryptophan
  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Relapse prevention
  • Dawn simulator

If you or someone you love battles these symptoms I urge you to see your doctor. You don’t have to go through this rough season alone!

So what do you think? Do you ever experience S.A.D. or know someone that does? How do you feel about these new studies reporting S.A.D. doesn’t exist?




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Grace Through The Holidays ~Week 4

Are you ready for Week 4?!

We’ve done quite a bit of planning, list making and thinking.  Now it’s time to start the work. Don’t get scared, I promise working a little bit each week is going to make the holidays less stressful and allow us to enjoy Christmas more! Remember I’m doing this right along with you and I’m keeping our limitations in mind.




4 things to do this week:

  1.  Check your local store ads for the sales.  Some baking supplies are going on sale so it’s time to start grabbing those. Also, watch for the Halloween candy to go on sale if you plan to hand some out on October 31st.
  1.  It’s time to start the Christmas shopping.  Try to pick up a gift or two this week. I’m a strong proponent of not going into debt over the holidays. Set your budget, keep track and stick to it. Pick the hardest person to buy for and purchase their gift first! Try to shop online as much as possible. We’re not always up to a trip to the store, so take advantage of online sales and free shipping days. (Remember the websites we mentioned in Week is where I found the sale for the Halloween candy and I’ve already ordered gifts from Shutterfly using their FREEBIE offers.)


  1. Pick up some paper plates for every day use and some decorative ones. (Yes, I’m suggesting paper plates for the holidays.) I do believe in taking care of our environment but there are times that our health demands certain things, like less clean up, during this busy time of the year.


  1.  Finish putting out fall decorations. Don’t over do it – you don’t need to put out every fall item you own. A few simple decorations will set the tone for fall. Just pick your favorite items and remember, what you pull out you have to put away in just a couple of weeks to make room for Christmas decor.


How are you doing so far? Does this seem overwhelming or is it helping? Leave a comment below and let me know how it’s going for you!

If you missed any of the previous weeks you can click the links below:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3



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Hope Prevails Book Club ~ Week 1

Today is the day. We’re going to step out in faith and onto a path to healing. Please go with me as we travel this road.

It’s a hard road to walk and none of us need to do it alone!


For the next few days we’ll be reading over pages 15 to 24 of the book, Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengtson.

If you want to be part of the book club, you’re not too late! These first few pages are the introduction and as we talk over these pages you can join in the conversation and have time to pick up a copy of the book before we begin chapter one. The book sells on Amazon for around $8 dollars.

The first book club we did together was only by way of blog post.

For me, what was lacking was conversation. That’s why I started the Facebook group, “Grace Is Sufficient Virtual Book Club”, so we can have conversation, interaction and a place to encourage one another. Please join me in the Facebook group today as we begin to go over the introductory pages of the book!

My prayer is that together we can find peace,  joy and freedom from depression – the life God wants for each and every one of us!

Please take a moment and pray and ask God if there is anyone else that needs to have companions on their climb out of the pit of depression. Invite them to join us, maybe even give them a copy of the book as a gift as a way to encourage them to follow along.







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Daily Habit Tracking for Chronic Illness

Chronic illness can leave you feeling helpless. There are so many things out of our control it can be overwhelming. I’ve found that too often this leaves people in a pit of despair without any hope of progress.

In order to feel like you’re taking charge of your life and your illness, you have to put some work into it. I’m a big proponent of being a well-educated patient because chronic life is a full time job.


Whether you’re newly diagnosed, haven’t found a diagnosis yet or you’ve been in this battle for years – these things can help you in your daily fight with chronic illness. 

For most suffering with chronic illness, it affects their entire being.

Everywhere you look and everything you read tells you to track various things like your diet, activity, meds, etc. But how are you supposed to keep track when absolutely everything affects your body and your symptoms? Thinking of your body as a whole – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – is essential to making any progress. But where do you begin?

The key is just to begin somewhere. We all have some idea of certain things that affect our symptoms. Start there. 

I’ll use myself as an example. I have fibromyalgia, ME/chronic fatigue syndrome and polycystic ovarian disorder.

I can list a few things from the top of my head that cause my symptoms to flare:

  1. Physical exertion
  2. Getting too cold
  3. Forgetting my vitamins & supplements
  4. Mental stress such as negative thinking
  5. Not getting enough sleep

I can also list a few things that help me:

  1. Eating protein at every meal
  2. Gently moving my body daily
  3. Spending time daily with God
  4. Staying hydrated

My daughter has POTs – for her, drinking Gatorade daily and increasing her salt intake are necessary. So those are things she would add to her list.

Now take just a few of these things and make a habit tracker.

I don’t know about you, but I can get up and start my day and the next thing I know it’s noon and I didn’t take my morning meds or get anything to eat. Creating good habits is a must!

Here’s what a daily habit tracker may look like…

daily habit tracker for chronic illness

Don’t worry about having this many items – you may only want to start with two or three things. Don’t overwhelm yourself, this is just an example. Also, you don’t have to get fancy and you don’t even have to use a computer spread sheet. You can just use a piece of paper – anything that will work as a way to keep track.

Doing this will allow you to see what helps maintain a balance in your health and put you in a proactive position, instead of a helpless one. 

So I’m curious – what things do you know of that help you and your symptoms? Share a few in the comments! Taking a moment to share with others may help them think of something that should be on their own daily tracker – we’re in this battle together!



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Grace Through The Holidays ~ Week 3

Are you having a hard time getting in the holiday spirit or focusing on these tasks?  Take a trip to Hobby Lobby, spend a few minutes on Pinterest searching for Thanksgiving and Christmas things or pop in your favorite Holiday movie.  You’ll be in the mood before you know it.

grace through the holidays week 3

We’re in Week 3 now so we’re really getting our preparations under way!

There are 5 things this week – three are only decision making steps.  But making the decision is half the battle, isn’t it?

  1.  Put out a few more fall decor items.  If possible, plan to be fully decorated for fall by the the 20th.  Maybe add a new wreath on your door or grab a few pumpkins for your table.
  1.  Decide if you are going to make any Christmas gifts this year.  Maybe you’d like to make a treat like fudge or cookies for neighbors or maybe you like to make ornaments.  Pull out a piece of paper (or you can download a FREE Gifts to Make printable here) and write down what you’ve decided.  You’ll need this list as our prep continues, so put it with your card and gift lists you’ve already made.
  1.  Decide where Thanksgiving will be spent.  If possible, don’t host!  That way you don’t have to worry about cooking and cleaning and taking the gamble that your health will be up to the challenge.  Consider going to someone else’s home and take a crock pot dish or a treat to share.  Grab a piece of paper (or you can download a FREE Thanksgiving Planning printable here).  If you’re having dinner at your home, do you need to borrow extra chairs or a folding table? Is there anything else you can think of that you’ll need if it’s hosted at your home? Decide on the menu. Don’t hesitate asking others to help by bringing a dish or two to share. If dinner is somewhere else, decide what you’ll take to share.
  1.  Do you have any children that will be trick or treating?  Jump over to Pinterest and decide on the costume or run to Halloween USA and pick one up.
  1.  Last – pick some scented candles to burn, wax melts or an essential oil blend to fill your home with fall aromas. 🙂

Just to recap:

You should have 4 lists written out.  Put them somewhere safe!  This is becoming your holiday planner!

  1.  Christmas card list.
  2.  Gift giving list.
  3.  Gifts to make list.
  4.  Thanksgiving day planner.

Shew…. This is a lot of brain work going on this week.  But trust me!  It will be all worth it in the end.  


In case you missed it, here’s the first two posts in this series:

Grace Through The Holidays ~ Week 1

Grace Through The Holidays ~ Week 2


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Hope Prevails!

New Virtual Book Club and Giveaway!

I feel society as a whole tends to do well with serving the needs of those that face an immediate crisis far better than it does the needs of the chronically ill.

hope prevails book club

Medical advancements allow us to live longer lives than ever before.  Some of these advancements mean that someone with a particular medical condition may live decades longer than they would have with this same condition 100 years ago.  But too often we tend to neglect the emotional and mental costs associated with this longevity and long-term treatment.

For instance, a doctor may be well trained to deal with the medical implications for a certain illness however they may have little to no training in regard to the physiological, social and cultural problems a patient faces in the long term.


One of the most common problems that come from a long term chronic illness is depression.

Diagnosing depression can be tricky. There are a number of symptoms associated with it that may also be associated with a chronic illness.  For example – insomnia, lack of energy, fluctuation in weight.    This leaves the doctor wondering if it’s just symptoms from the illness or if it’s become depression.

Approximately one third of patients with chronic illness will also be diagnosed with depression.  As opposed to 4-8% of the generally “healthy” community.

Patients are often left to deal with the stress of the loss of their career choice, added financial pressures and broken dreams on their own. Often a patient goes through a grieving period of the life they thought they would have and it’s hard to know when that natural grieving should turn to acceptance or is lingering too long and now has become depression.

The pain, fatigue and symptom flares that accompany chronic illness can mean the patient isn’t able to get out to social activities, visit friends, attend church or even run to the store for necessities. The lack of socialization and conversation adds to the build up of depression.

A visit to your general practitioner has to be more than just a review of physical symptoms and adjustments to medications. Viewing the patient as a physical, emotional and spiritual being is needed. Unfortunately, too often we’re allowed 10 minutes with the doctor so the physical needs take precedence over the mental and emotional.

There are no easy answers to these problems. When you have a chronic illness life is forever changed and we’re often left to cope with these changes alone.

Something needs to change in our medical industry but until that happens we need to find ways to address the mental, emotional and spiritual issues together as a community.

For this reason I decided it was time to start another virtual book club. This time I want to be able to have more conversations and interactions so we’re going to go about this a bit differently.  I plan to send out posts you can read but we’re also going to have a Facebook group (CLICK HERE TO JOIN FACEBOOK GROUP) where we can share as we read through the book together.

The book I’ve chosen is Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengtson. I met Michelle (virtually) a few years ago through a Christian writer’s group to which we both contributed. Dr. B is a is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist with more than 20 years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of medical and mental disorders in children, adults, and seniors. She has been in private practice for more than a decade of that time.

But more than that – she has experienced deep depression at a personal level.

As a board-certified neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson believed she was prescribing the most effective treatments for her clients who struggled with depression. But when she experienced debilitating depression herself, she found that the treatments she had recommended weren’t helping her the way she expected. She was determined to find out what was missing.

With the deep compassion of someone who has been there, Dr. Bengtson blends her training and that vital missing piece she discovered to offer you a hope grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps you understand what depression is, how it affects you spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, depression cannot do. The result is an approach that offers not just the management of symptoms but the hope of true release.

As I read this book over the past month I found encouragement and practical spiritual guidance through my own issues with depression.

The holidays are the worst time of the year for those that suffer so I thought it was a great time to come together, study this book and God’s word together and be an encouragement to one another.

I hope you’ll join me!

You can CLICK HERE to read more about the book and CLICK HERE to visit Dr. B’s blog!

You can purchase the book from Amazon here:

(Note: this link is an affiliate link. You can read our disclosure policy here.)

Now, on to the book giveaway!

Enter to win by leaving a comment under this post between October 5, 2016 10:00 PM (EST) and October 10, 2016 11:59 PM (EST). stating why you’re interested in being part of this virtual book club.

Now here’s some legal blah, blah, blah….

*One winner will be randomly selected to receive a paperback copy of the book, Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengtson with a retail value of approximately $8.00 (US dollars). Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for Grace Is Sufficient, LLC. to use your first name to announce you as the winner.

*In order to enter, you need to leave a comment under this blog post. Your email address must be given to enter so I have a way to reach you. The email address does not show in the comment section and will only be used to notify the winner of the drawing and will not be used for any other purpose. No purchase is necessary to enter or win.

*Entries (by way of blog comment) will be accepted online only at starting October 5, 2016 10:00 PM (EST) and will end on October 10, 2016 at 11:59 PM (EST).

*The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.


Join me as we go through this book club together. Follow the Facebook Group and pick up your copy of the book!

The discussions will actually begin on October 15th but I’ll be in the group each day between now and then so we can get to know each other before we start!



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Grace Through The Holidays ~ Week 2

So how did you do over the weekend? Did you make your two lists? Don’t worry if you didn’t get that done yet. It was an easy task and you can finish it this week if you need extra time!

To recap – last week we were to get our Christmas card list up-to-date and our gift purchasing list ready. Here’s last week’s post in case you missed it – Week 1. You can also find the link to get FREE printables of boths lists in that post.

grace through the holidays


Now we’re on to week two of our Grace Through The Holidays series!

  1. Grab your favorite fall decoration and put it out.Don’t grab all the Rubbermaid bins of fall decor out of your attic and exhaust yourself by thinking you need a whole day to put everything out at once. We’re just going to put out a few things each week and by the time Halloween and Thanksgiving come around we’re going to have our houses all decorated and ready to go! So for this week – just pick one, or maybe even two, of your favorite fall items and give them a place of honor in your home.
  1. Bookmark some websites to watch for sales and deals.Now that we have our gift list written, we’re ready to shop. Planning and shopping ahead allows us to spread out the cost of Christmas over three months instead of spending everything the first two weeks of December. Plus it gives more time to consider gift ideas. You may be surprised at deals that come up and make you say, “Hey, that’s a great idea for so and so.” Here are a few of my favorite deal sites to keep bookmarked: &  Sign up to be on the email list of these next three so you’re notified of deals when they come up: and  Every once in a while Shutterfly has freebies you can choose and you only pay the shipping.  I’ve already ordered gifts for one of my niece’s two kids, my son and his wife and a few others.  The FREE gifts from Shutterfly did cost about $6 for shipping charges.  But I don’t think a total of $6 wasn’t bad for three personalized gifts!
  1. Decide on one treat you’ll make this year.Your family may have a long list of special holiday treats they like to gobble up. But for right now, just focus on one that you just can’t go without. As time allows you can make more – but deciding on the one must have will guarantee that you have your favorite treat when the holidays arrive. My daughter said she can’t go without my mom’s chocolate covered peanut butter balls so that’s going to be my “must have.”


That’s it. Three little things! We can do this. We can create a wonderful, relaxing Holiday Season!


I’d love to hear what you’re favorite fall decor item and must have holiday treats are. Let us know in the comments below!






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Grace Through The Holidays ~ Week 1

September was a busy month for us!

  • My son got married!! (You can see a few pictures on my Instagram.)
  • My grandson broke his arm on his very last day of daycare so he wasn’t able to start school for two weeks. I’ve been amazed at how well he’s been handling the whole ordeal.
  • The weather is changing and Autumn is making it’s yearly appearance. The change brings an increase in pain for me and tends to slow down my already turtle like pace.

grace through the holidays

But guess what! It’s time to think about Christmas!

I know, some of us are still getting used to a school schedule and of course we have to plan for Halloween and Thanksgiving first.  I promise we won’t skip over them!!

Last year a number of you joined me for my Grace for the Holidays series. It was fun to go through the season with you and be able to be a support and encouragement for each other. I’m also making a few printables for myself this year to make a holiday section in my planner and I’ll be sharing them with you as well! FREEBIES!!

The plan for this year is to be completely done with our holiday prep by December 11th!  That gives us two weeks to relax, enjoy any gatherings that come up, and have breathing room for those last minute things that ALWAYS make their way into the days leading up to Christmas.

So let’s get started with our 2016 Grace Through The Holidays series!

I promise if we start now we can have a wonderful Christmas! I know from experience because I used to procrastinate until Christmas became a stress filled event instead of a joyful season to focus on the birth of Christ.

We’re going to take things in little chunks and we’re going to do it together!

For this week, we just have two little things:

  1.  Get your Christmas card list out.  Add any new friends and change any addresses that need changed.  I know it’s only September.  We’ll review it again briefly before we send any cards out!  If you’ve already decided not to send Christmas cards anymore then you’re ahead of the game!  Woo Hoo!  I go back and haven’t sent them for the past two years but I decided to send them this year again – maybe a bit of nostalgia over one more tradition being lost to our electronic age. (CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FREE PRINTABLE CHRISTMAS CARD LIST)
  1.  Make a Christmas gift list.  List everyone you have to buy for and give yourself a budget.  Don’t focus on what you’re buying for them yet.  Just decide who will receive a gift and how much you’ll spend on everyone.  You can keep this list on paper or you can use an app on your phone.  I’ve always used an app on my phone, but recently I’ve become a bit of a planner girl so I made some printables to use in a “Holiday” section in my planner. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to use paper or an app, just so you have some way of keeping track that can go with you whenever you’re out.  You never know when you’ll stumble across a great clearance item and this way you’ll know who you still need to buy for at the touch of a finger. (CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FREE PRINTABLE GIFT LIST)

Now put these two lists somewhere that you’ll remember as we count off the weeks until Christmas.

There you have it!  See, that’s not so bad now is it?  I didn’t ask you to pull out your tree or get someone to string lights from your gutters.

Just a few steps each week will allow us to enjoy our holidays more and stress less!



I’m curious to hear – how many of you still send Christmas cards? Leave a comment and let me know! Or if you do something unique instead of cards, I’d love to hear about that too!
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