Seeing as how today is the first day of summer, I feel it would be appropriate to celebrate this day by saying, omg, I can’t stand summer.
I’m not a fan of summer for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I get SAD in the summer.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (or its cutesy acronym SAD) is depression that occurs during certain times of the year.
Most people who have the disorder get it in the winter because it gets dark and they get mopey and are all,
Maaaaaan, I miss summer,
and I’m like,
Whatever losers! Woo Hoo! Dark and cold rocks! Let’s run naked through the woods! – right in their sad faces.
Now, however, it’s summer and I’m sad and moody and the rest of the world is like,
Yay summer! A million degrees! Sweating! Pools! BBQ’s! Mosquitoes trying to eat off our faces! or whatever. (Also, I am very sorry about getting all up in your faces last winter.)
So yes, most people who get SAD get it in the winter, but there is a summer version and it is the more rare form of an already rare disorder: “About 5 percent of adult Americans are thought to have winter seasonal affective disorder; researchers estimate that fewer than 1 percent have its summer variant.” Or so says the New York Times.
I’m one of those less than 1 percenters… because I’m all pale and mysterious so I get cool disorders that make me hide away in my dark house most of the day… and when I do venture out I’m withdrawn and moody, wear big black sunglasses and sigh dramatically.
Researchers are still unsure if it’s the heat or the light or a combination of both, For me, it’s not so much the heat (though omg it sucks), it’s the light… more specifically the WAY the light is shining. It’s too bright, it’s coming in at a weird angle. I feel out of sync with the rhythm of the planet at this time of year. My circadian rhythms are off, I feel out of sorts. My pockets hurt.
It’s like my brain is now cued for sunset instead of sunrise. I feel “weird” all day and fight off melancholy, and then as the day wanes and the light shifts, I feel okay again. Usually around 8 pm every night I start to feel the depression lift and I am suddenly and inexplicably myself again.
Off and on for the next few months I will battle this depression, and it sucks.
On the one hand, at least I know what it is. On the other hand, I hate knowing that it is a real thing and not just my imagination. Honestly, I think that this disorder affects more than one percent of the population. My facebook, twitter, and blog feed are filled with friends talking about feeling down for no reason right now. It almost seems that as a society we’ve become so desensitized to the seasons and nature that maybe we aren’t aware that as the planet moves, as the seasons change, that we, too, are affected.
Unlike the winter variant which involves staring at a lightbulb (or something), there is not a lot to help with summer SAD.
So, I fake it and make myself shower and work and all those normal human things even though I am totally not feeling it. I try to avoid pacing. I try to make myself sleep like a normal human. I watch Doctor Who. We pick our Halloween costumes and start working on them. We begin planning our big fall vacation. And when I feel like I can’t breathe, when I feel like this will never end … I will stop and breathe and try to remember that this will pass. It will take a few months, but it will pass.
Needless to say, our family will be hiding inside most of the summer, at least during the day. And when you invite us to your “It’s a million degrees – Let’s sit in direct sunlight and get sweaty – We love summer extravaganza!” parties… and you will… I will smile politely, thank you enthusiastically, and then silently count the days until fall. Oh, and next winter, when the tables are turned, I promise not to get all up in your sad face again.