Black Dogs & Black Days – A Vitamin D Story

by | Nov 30, 2019 | Nomad Life

It’s Friday the 29th of November 2019, and Iggy the Hymer motorhome is parked up on a quiet side street in the town of Forfar, North East Scotland. It is a month since we returned from our last tour around the Balkans. And in that month I have mostly been ill.

It’s not a terrible illness. Just an annoying, energy sapping, debilitating one. A head full of stubbornly blocked sinuses, that, with every turn of my head, brings the giddiness of stepping off a roundabout. Apart from that, and the chronic fatigue and muscle weakness that comes with viral infections, I’m feeling  just dandy.

Or I would be, if I hadn’t forgotten to start taking my vitamin D tablets, once the summer sun slid southwards for the winter.

After Buchenwald the pretty towns of Germany were leaving me cold.

With hindsight, I started to feel the winter downs back in Germany. But we were busy with travelling, and I was actually congratulating myself that I wasn’t feeling as miserable as I usually do to be heading home. Also it was natural I think, to attribute the edging erosion of my normal, energetic, positive nature, to our visit to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

I just wanted to get out of Germany after that day. And as we slipped across the border into France, the summer came back for a last glorious blast. Making me forget how the days were shortening. How the Vitamin D bearing rays of sunlight had already slipped below the horizon for the winter. How, in Northern Europe, if I didn’t take a winter supplement I would soon be swallowed with tiredness, lethargy, and that old black old dog of sadness and self doubt.

A last blast of t-shirt weather in Nancy

Back in Scotland and the first weeks passed in a blur. A blur filled with weddings, family, work, van maintenance, and an annoying couple of weeks of coughing and sneezing, courtesy of little people who catch bugs at playgroup.

A wonderful day to hurry home for.

The Blog slid away from me as my energy and enthusiasm dissapeared in the daily attempt to just do the things that needed doing. Two months of eating out in Eastern Europe had been lots of fun, but not so good for the health or the body shape of two folks in their mid fifties. So it was back to a healthy diet. Back to a meat free diet. And taking time to cook, good, nutrient packed meals every day.

The weather was freezing. And when it wasn’t freezing it was soaking wet. But Marley needs walking, whatever the weather, and most of my rapidly depleting energy reserves were used up walking her. Endless miles of dripping forests, ice edged rivers, and five o’clock blackness of winter dark, Scottish streets.

The Last of the Autumn Colours in Pitlochry

The hectic first days back were over, and I hadn’t updated the blog once. But now I had time again. In between the Marley walks, and the daily soup making, and the cleaning out of cupboards. Time was there to be filled with Jay off working. But the Blog I’d been so keen to catch up on lay untouched as I sneezed and coughed in my hanky.

I wrote words in my head on those crispy forest trails. But when we returned to the van the laptop lay silent and untouched. Reproaching my already growing negativity with my failure to write my stories. I questioned my ability. I questioned my worth. I questioned whether I should be even attempting to grow this beautiful seed of a website at all.

And then, finally, I questioned my questions. Where had all this come from? What had happened to my love of writing? My love of spending hour after hour pouring over photos? And where was my zest for sunsets? Bird calls? Laughing at the precious look on Marley’s face when she caught a tiny vole, then let it go when I asked her. Sitting like a good girl as it scampered, safely away, into the silent trees.

Where indeed?

Mum! Mum! I caught a mouse mum!

Somewhere along the way, the blackness of the days had been seeping into my soul without me realising. And finally, I remembered about vitamin D.

It was such a relief when I realised I had not been taking my Vitamin D tablets. I was not going mad. My life was not worthless. And happiness was just a few days of a teensy, tiny, little white tablet away. And as soon as the answer hit me I started to take my daily, winter doseage.

I used to think that as long as I got outside for an hour in daylight I was getting enough Vitamin D. Even in the winter. But then I found out that the rays of the sun that enable us to make Vitamin D in our bodies don’t reach this far north in the late autumn and winter months. I could run naked round the Highlands six hours a day from October to March if I cared to. But not one bit of Vitamin D would it get me.

So now, once October hits, I take a tiny little supplement every morning with my breakfast. And the winter blues that have plagued me for many a year are a thing of the past.

The beauty in the grey winter skies of Scotland.

That was four days ago, and already I feel so much better than I have been. My head is still spinning like a merry go round. My legs still feel like rubber. But that winter blackness that was creeping across my brain is receding. I’m feeling more like “me” again.

It feels good to be writing again. Outside it’s minus two, but it’s cosy and warm in our tiny home. Jay has parked us up near to a shop, and a little park for Marley to play in. So despite my poor head, and wobbly knees we can manage without him when he’s gone.

In the morning we’ll head for the beach, and take a day off. Watch some movies. Maybe even get the guitar and saxophone out and play a few songs. If I’m really lucky I might get out and take a photo or two. Write another article for the Blog.

But whatever I do… you can bet I’ll be taking my Vitamin D!

Fi. x

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