Have you ever gone through a spell when you just didn’t feel like yourself but you couldn’t figure out why? This happened to me recently.
A couple of weeks ago, I was uncharacteristically negative. For the most part, I’ve learned to be pretty even about day-to-day minutia and a pretty good problem-solver. Having grown up in an Italian-American family in New York, I was prone to knee-jerk reactions, ranging from one extreme to the other. When I came to Kentucky to go to college, I realized that not everybody had the same kind of temperament. In fact, most people I met were pretty laid back. Over the years, I’m proud to say, I’ve mellowed. Although I have learned to pick the hill I’m going to die on, as my brother advised me many years ago.
But two weeks ago, while I wasn’t volatile, I was just negative. Common, every day challenges became Challenges. My energy level was non-existent, I wanted to sleep all the time. It was time to be putting out annuals in the garden, usually a mood booster, but it was too wet. So, I tried different things, lunch with friends, searching for inspiration and creative photography subjects, eating chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Nothing worked. I even began to wonder if I was sick or depressed.
Then a funny thing happened. The sun came out. Looking back on the week, I realized it had rained six days out of seven, chilly, grey, drizzly rain. While my camera may have gotten a much-needed rest, my spirits were down in the dumps. And I hated it!
But honestly - the day the sun came out, I felt 100% better. Now, I know about seasonal affective disorder, SAD, because there have been times in the dead of winter when I’ve felt minor effects of SAD. Over the years, I’ve learned ways to counteract it. But, hey! It was MAY! Never did I give any thoughts to the possibility of a bit of SAD creeping up on me.
So here’s what I learned. SAD doesn’t only happen in winter, or when days are short. In fact, some people are the opposite and warm weather actually makes them prone to seasonal affective disorder. Figure skater Dorothy Hamill wrote in her biography about this. She was always so used to training and performing in cold environments, that warm weather actually made her lethargic. I do believe a bit of SAD can occur any time, given the right weather conditions and depending, of course, on the individual involved.
Did I find a cure? Heck, no! But I did learn this: it’s okay. It happens. We don’t have to be happy, perky, energetic, creative 24/7. Ride it out. If you’re lucky, it will be short-lived like my recent episode. If not, then you might want to talk to your health practitioner.
But through it all, remember – the sun’ll come out tomorrow! "Maybe..." (cue music)