Jamie Lawrence

Curing the SAD

About 2.5weeks ago I was ridiculously sleepy in the middle of the day, couldn't think and was basically wiped out. It was like having the flu only without the fever or any actual sickness. I eventually realised that a lot of the symptoms pointed to Seasonal Affected Disorder. Yes folks, I haz the sad.

After lots of great advice from my twitter friends, I tried two things: Berocca and an SAD light.


Berocca PerformanceBerocca is basically Vitamin B, Vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and zinc wrapped up in a little effervescent tablet which makes a passable orange drink. I think that without a doubt the Berocca has a huge effect on my mood and energy levels. I've been giggling for no apparent reason in the mornings and I'm much happier despite suffering through a cold this week. Highly recommended!

Lumie Brightspark

I bought a reconditioned Lumie Brightspark which has a fairly large light area but doesn't take up much space on the desk because it stands vertically. First thing: this thing is bright!. It's bright enough to scare little children ;-) 2013-01-16_1358359077

It's bright enough that when you turn it on, it drowns out all other light sources including the main room light, an uplighter and the ambient window light… and that's a problem. Although it is giving me the daylight I need for my brain to say "Morning! Time to wake up and hunt something!" it is highly reminiscent of coding at 2am by the singular glow of a desklamp.

Initially I had the lamp positioned in front of me at a 45° angle but this cast really strong shadows across the desk & laptop. Then I moved it to be at a 90° angle to the laptop and just within my peripheral vision. This was much better although I noticed I'd subconsciously try to shield my eyes from it after a hour or so. One other thing: it's worth turning up the brightness of your monitor to match to brightness of the lamp otherwise it's like peering inside on a sunny day.

My next idea was to try to balance the light in the room (perhaps it's because I'm a photographer but having the single light source and shadows began to annoy me). So I switched my office space around so the desk was facing the window. It's not the brightest window (North-facing, in Ireland) but having the window at 45° left and the lamp at 45° right really helps to balance everything. The lamp is also now 6" above the desk so it throws more light down on the desk.IMG_3979

It might sound like I'm a little disappointed by the lamp. I'm not. If I've been using it for a short while, I'm really reluctant to switch it off; and if I leave the room I feel like the landing is the deepest darkest cave in comparison (it has a skylight!). I feel an instant lift when I walk back into the office to the bright white light. It sounds daft and hippyish but I definitely feel happier with the light on. I'm not sure if the effects carry on through the rest of the day but I'll definitely continue using it.