I have been self-treating with vitamin D for symptoms of dementia since 2010 and the depression induced by seasonal affective disorder since the end of 2014. Living on the verge of these disorders has given me the opportunity to study these conditions at first hand and offer some novel insights into them. I have discovered that SAD and dementia are not two separate conditions but two overlapping stages of one condition caused by progressive vitamin D deficiency. I suggest that the brain's inability to make decisions is the underlying cause of procrastination and the depression produced by emotional trauma and seasonal affective disorder.
In 1986 I bought a large house in need of renovation. Having complete the general repairs - replacement windows, rewiring, damp proofing etc. - I began the tasks of renovating the various rooms.
Hall and stairs
Table 1: Completion dates for house renovation.
The forty-two month gap between the kitchen and dining room is because of an emotional breakdown at the start of 1991. For two years I did nothing but eat, sleep and go to work until a colleague urgently needed a place to stay. In 1996 I seemed to lose enthusiasm for the house renovation. The dates ‘February 1998’ and ‘March 2000’ are a subtle clue to the actual problem. The work on those rooms was started in the summer. I was beginning to suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and had no motivation to do anything in the darker months of the year or in bad summers. At the time I considered it to be fallout from the breakdown but it got worse each year. Christmas shopping in particular became a nightmare of walking around the shops day after day unable to decide what presents to buy. Ultimately I had to give it up because it had become too stressful.
Each year the SAD lasted longer until eventually I only got respite in the bright sunshine of a rare heat wave. I lacked the motivation to do anything. The garden became overgrown. The lawn would not get cut until the grass was 20cm long. My house has wooden window frames which I used to overhaul every two years to keep them in good condition, This biennial maintenance stopped. Several of the windows became so rotten at the bottom that I had to cut out and replace the wood.
Around 2006 I was beginning to notice that programming was becoming more difficult. I was often quoting Sergeant Murtaugh from the “Lethal Weapon” films: “I'm too old for this shit.” When driving at junctions and roundabouts I was used to being able to monitor all the traffic as I approached and manoeuvre the car without having to think much about what I was doing. I was having to study the traffic more and becoming less confident about what I needed to do with the car. Since older people tend to drive more cautiously, I assumed this was because of impending old age too.
My mother died of Alzheimer's disease in May 2009. Towards the end of that year I began doing many of the kinds of things that she had in the early stages:
On one occasion I went to the fridge and found a stack of ironed shirts.
I was preparing my breakfast and the cat's at the same time. I opened a can of cat food and looked around to find the cat's bowl that I thought I had put on the worktop. Looking down I saw the cat looking up at me puzzled, wondering if I really expected her to eat muesli.
I took a bite out of a nectarine and watched aghast as, on seeing the exposed stone, my arm autonomously launched the fruit in a graceful arc into the waste bin.
I like most people, I guess, have at some time has found myself searching for a word that is on the tip of my tongue. Usually I know what I am trying to say and can substitute another word, knowing that it is not quite the word I am looking for. This got more severe over the course of maybe a year until it I would find my self stammering in mid-sentence, still trying to speak although the next word was not being supplied.
When my boss asked me for a progress report my brain would simply switch off. He thought I was trying to think of an excuse for why the job had not been completed but there was simply nothing happening in my head.
My mother was afraid to be left in the house because she kept seeing men in black clothing. I would occasional think I had glimpsed one of my cats. They had died more than a year before and I realised I was just misperceiving black flashes in my peripheral vision.
My mother would occasionally ‘zone out’ while doing basic tasks like washing up or making a pot of tea. I assumed that she was just lost in thought. When this started happening to me I discovered that it is just like a pause button being pressed on my brain. There is nothing going on in my head and my vision blacks out but I have not collapsed. I would come out of the state immediately if someone talked to me so I was still subconsciously aware.
My mental ability was noticeably deteriorating. Computer programming is brain intensive. My ability to reason slowly got worse until I was taking maybe three times longer than normal to solve the more difficult programming tasks. It was worst when there were two approaches to a problem. I would spend hours trying to decide the best way to proceed before urgency would force me to choose.
I became very short tempered with a colleague at work.