Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Good Old Summertime

By Cathy

In The Good Old Summer Time

There's a time in each year
That we always hold dear,
Good old summer time;
With the birds and the treeses
And sweet-scented breezes,
Good old summer time.
When your day's work is over
Then you are in clover,
And life is one beautiful rhyme,
No trouble annoying
Each one is enjoying,
The good old summer time.
In the good old summer time,
In the good old summer time,

Written by: Ren Shields
Published in 1902

This past week we official entered summertime. It’s the time of pool parties, vacations, outdoor concerts, and magical summer evenings. Summer has been defined as “a period of fruition, fulfillment, happiness, or beauty.” This sounds like a wonderful time of the year and for most it is.

For some of us, that is simply not true. It is not magical at all. For some these hot, humid, long days turn us into cranky, grumpy individuals that are often genuinely sick. We have what is call Summer-onset Seasonal Affective Disorder. The long days of summer literally drag us down and zap every ounce of our energy. Instead of the lethargic state of Winter SAD, Summer SAD shows up as agitation. We’re not ourselves, we’re jittery, we’re extremely irritable, and physical ill. Life seems more animated with loud shrieks of playing children, bustling crowds, and wild colored clothes. All those things together with heat, light, and humidity create a cacophony of sights, sounds, and feelings that overload our systems.

Summer depression wasn’t even recognized until 1986. Health professionals suspected the cause was the heat and humidity. So the solution was cool showers, air conditioning, swimming in cold lakes or heading North. Although these solutions are useful for immediate help, they don’t stick around. We can stay inside, lower the AC thermostat, and darken the room, but ultimately we have to go out doors and WHAM, we’re hit with the heat and harsh light and the physical symptoms return. Now it’s known that the summer light also adds to the problem.

During the entire summer my focus is survival. I spend the summer coping with severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, insomnia, and overwhelming fatigue. I feel isolated. I can no longer go on hikes, wander small towns, or just sit in my swing. I can’t be part of the summer fun. I try to cope the best I can, but my normal positive mood is hard to find in the heat. When I just can’t stand being inside any longer I find a shady spot and put my feet in a tote full of ice water. It does help! Wish I could carry a tote of ice water with me everywhere I go!

 Here’s several ways I’ve learned to cope with summer.
  • I eat a light breakfast every morning to start out the day in a cheerful mood. I try to get plenty of protein and lots of fruits.
  • I try to only get out in the early mornings. Late evenings would be good also, but I live in an area with mosquitoes!
  • I build in quiet times during the day: playing the piano, journaling, reading, or editing pictures
  • I limit caffeine, electronics, and distractions.
  • I keep a list of summertime happy things. Some days it’s only that I saw a butterfly out the window.
  • I look for indoor places to explore like museums and flea markets.
  • When I want to take my camera out and wander, I do it in the mornings, preferably near some kind of water. I make sure there’s plenty of water in my cooler, an energy snack, and a resting place in the shade.

Summer-onset depression is thought to affect less than one percent of the population. That in itself is a cause of stress. Try telling your friends and family “you hate summer” and you’ll be met with all kinds of looks, words, and helpful suggestions. “Try staying out more and your body will adjust to the heat” is one of their suggestions. I’m here to tell you that only worsens the problem! There’s also the helpful souls that say, “drink more water, you’re just dehydrated.” Nope, that doesn’t help either. Very few people understand the comment “I HATE SUMMER!”

I know there are some of you out there that completely understand how I feel. I know I’m not the only one. If you have any great suggestions for coping with summer, I'd love to hear them. For you summer lovers, if you do happen to find us outside and we’re complaining or cranky, please forgive us. It really can’t be helped and we will be better about late September or early November. You’ll most likely find us smiling and very happy in December, January, and February and listening to your complaints about the cold. While you’re out there enjoying your summer, we’ll be inside dreaming of snow!

I hope you enjoy your summer whether you're outside or inside!


Anonymous said...

Cathy, thank you for explaining about this. I knew you didn't like summer, but assumed it was because the heat and humidity were uncomfortable. Now I understand. (I have the more common winter version of SAD.) It sounds like you've come up with some good coping strategies. They would be good tips for all of us on those days when it's just too hot to move. While I'd like my summer to slow down, I hope yours passes quickly for you!

terriporter said...

I didn't know there was a Summer SAD, although summers here can be hard to take with our high temps. I love the long days, however, and always feel the heat is the price we pay for our beautiful weather the rest of the year. I always remind myself that it may be hot but we don't have to shovel it! But the heat keeps me from getting outside and taking pictures and that does give me a case of "cabin fever". I'm trying to find indoor things to do, things that need doing that get put off when the weather is nice. It does sound like you've found some ways to help you cope with Summer. Actually, that bucket of ice with your feet in it makes me feel cooler already!

JUDITH said...

At least you know that you are not crazy. I loved the photo of the flower. What color and what depth.

kelly said...

although I don't personally suffer with this, I can totally understand how it would challenging to stay in good spirits in the hot summer months. glad to hear you've found some things to help!

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of Summer SAD either, however, if its as bad as Winter SAD then I completely understand how crippling it can be! The heat here close to the gulf coast is hot, but whats worse is the humidity! Wish I had some advise to offer you, but that bucket of ice seems to be a good solution! Your photos are gorgeous...thanks for sharing and I hope for you, that Summer passes quickly!

Sarah Huizenga said...

I am really a spring and fall girl. I am close to the I hate summer mindset. I hate hot and humid and mosquitoes, and crowds and too much sun. So I pray for cooler, overcast days and get out to enjoy every one of them.

Wendy McDonagh-Valentine said...

Summer is definitely my least favorite season. I relate to so much of what you wrote. The older I get, the more the heat effects me. You are definitely not alone!! Lol!!! Just found your blog and I look forward to catching up on your posts!! Happy and safe holiday weekend to you. xo

~ Wendy

AFishGirl said...

What a great post. I have disliked summer all of my life and it only grows in intensity. I can strongly relate to all you say. The tips you gave are REALLY going to help me so much. I wish we could spend the day looking at photos from November today, maybe even February. I have only met one other person who really does not like summer. Now I know two. We are, I am sure, a minority. Less bbqing, more quilting. I'm with you.

Claudia Wrightson said...

Haha! I am a new member of your "i hate summer club!" Years ago I played a lot of soft ball. My team was pretty good, but one day after a long tournament, i found myself in the back of an ambulance. HEAT STROKE-- since that event my body does not know what to do when i get hot. My body doesnt sweat it just gets hotter and hotter ...horrid head aches. But like everything else in life we learn how to cope. Like you, i rise early in the mornings... besides there are less people out. I have always just laughed when friends of mine head SOUTH in the winder... ugggh hot all year round??? Seriously? Just shoot me now! :)

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