A quick little segue (also related to the title) before jumping into what I really want to talk about:
The drive to my college campus from my hometown was five hours long. I didn’t yet have my own car, so we packed my dad’s car and went on our way. My father is a huge fan of John Denver, as evidenced by the lone CD (these were the good ol’ days before MP3 players and iPods…which I think are related, but I’m admittedly technologically illiterate) that he brought along. Coincidentally, it was also the only thing he deemed worthy enough to play the entire way there. So I listened to the whole greatest hits album on loop about 5 times. I went on the journey from country roads to a jet plane to rocky mountains, and of course, the effect of sunshine on his emotional state of being. Needless to say, I had more than enough of my fill of John Denver. Now just the mere thought of that album makes me cringe.
The same can definitely be said about me and the stereotypical northern hemisphere summer (see how I linked the two there? clever, huh?). While what seems like the entire rest of the United States welcome longer days, warmer weather (barring extreme heat waves), brightness, and an excuse to spend more time outside; I am much more content huddled inside, shades drawn, fan pointed directly on me, counting the days until fall. I hated the fact that the longer days didn’t let me sleep as long as I wanted to, waking me up much too early and glaring through my blinds, seeming to bore through my dark-colored blanket at night when I’m trying to fall asleep. During my stint in retail, I had customers give the usual “Bet you hate that you have to be in here when it’s so nice outside, huh?” comment to me, and I’d reply enthusiastically, “Oh, no! Not at all! I actually hate the sun and I’m much happier in here. But you go ahead and enjoy that sun for me, okay?” They walked away shaking their heads, probably thinking I was lying through my teeth.
I purposefully was NOT a summer bride, picking the last day of winter as my wedding date. When asked about honeymoon plans, people gave me weird looks when I told them that tropical venues like Hawaii, Florida, Mexico, or the Caribbean sounded dreadful.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve hated the sun. Warm summers in Germany and Pennsylvania as well as visits to family in Hawaii and the Philippines all made me cranky. As I got older, I realized that I was always markedly less agreeable and fun to live with during just that one particular season. Around the time I was ten, I remember a good friend of mine telling me that her dad was always in a bad mood in the winter time. I asked her how anyone could ever be in a bad mood in the winter, and she said it was some form of mental illness. I shrugged my shoulders, thought nothing of it, and didn’t connect any dots until many years later.
At first, I jokingly thought I was a vampire.
(Okay, fine, here I’m actually Emily the Strange. It was my costume for this last Halloween. But I’ve got the [makeup-assisted] pale skin, so close enough, right?)
Then during my college years I started hearing about something called SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. I started to understand why some people got so cranky during the colder months and happier during the warmer months. Some of it was a Vitamin D deficiency, some of it was simply because there was more light in the day, other parts of it are unexplained. Treatments involved more light exposure.
I started to feel a bit self-conscious that I was the complete opposite. During the last couple years of college and well into my adulthood, I joked that I have reverse SAD. I never actually looked it up; I just chalked it up to me being an odd one out. When summer finally came, I tried to smile and be happy for my friends who enjoyed the sun so much, all the while becoming more anxious and moody myself. Then when the clouds rolled in and the temperatures dropped, I rejoiced while everyone else cursed the end of summer.
After years of talking about my oddity, I finally decided to look it up. Imagine my surprise when my “made up” affliction was actually a real thing! True, it’s less-common and less-researched than the “classic” winter SAD, but enough other people must suffer from it if an article was written about it, right? I felt better that I was not as much of a freak as I thought I was.
I have to admit that I haven’t been formally diagnosed with summer depression yet, but I’m pretty sure I suffer from it.
So why did I bother bringing this up? 1) I wanted to reach out to others out there who might also be suffering this summer, and let them know they’re not alone. 2) If I come across crankier than normal in upcoming blogs, now you’ll know why. Either that, or I’ve found out that a John Denver cover band is playing at my town’s Concerts in the Park series. Same difference. 😉
To Making Light of Your Own Afflictions (after all, isn’t that the only way to make it through the hard times in life?),