Seasonal Affective Disorder

Light therapy lamp

Light therapy lamp. Maybe I need one of these.

There’s a very important difference between yesterday and today. It’s the difference that means that, unlike yesterday, today I feel lethargic, morose, and generally as flat as a pancake. With a tyre track across the middle.

The difference: the sun is not shining.

It’s ruined everything, just by sleeping in behind a cloud somewhere—maybe the great big grey one blanketing the whole sky.

Apparently having weather-dependant happiness is a real clinical ’thing’. (But then everything is, these days, isn’t it?) Seasonal Affective Disorder. Personally, I think it wasn’t labeled by anyone serious about it. Someone just wanted to have a laugh; to be able to clinically call these sun-dependants ‘SAD’. They thought it was funny.

Puns are humour for lazy people. When someone makes a pun and then looks at me with an expectant grin (are they anticipating appreciation?), I just want to punch them in the face. But if they don’t expect anything from me, I’ll graciously pretend I hadn’t heard it. Live and let live, and all that.

Seasonal Affective Disorder though, is meant to be…seasonal. Obviously. It’s not called Sunshine Affective Disorder.

Sure, I don’t like winter, but that’s more to do with temperature than light. It seems I don’t generate much heat myself—the maternity ward learned I can’t raise a baby’s body temperature with skin-to-skin—so I feel much more comfortable, and thus happier, in warm environments. Very warm ones. I’m a lizard.

Seasonal Affective Disorder sound like it’s meant to be about light though, and cumulative effects of one’s exposure to it. It’s caused by a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus, due to the shortening of daylight hours and the lack of sunlight in winter. That sounds like it requires a determinate period of more than 24 hours.

So if a person is happy on Wednesday when it’s sunny and warm, and miserable on Thursday when it’s dim and dismal, what’s the diagnosis?

Perhaps there’s such a thing as Psychosomatic Affective Disorder, and that’s what I have. Treatments are limited, but the one I’ve favoured is waiting until the kids are at kindy so you have the house to yourself, then crawling into an electric-blanketed bed and listening to an audiobook. It won’t make you feel happy, but if the day’s a write-off anyway, you may as well take the comforts you can.

I’ve just dropped off the boys at kindy. Which means I have somewhere to be.


(2) Comments

  • Deborah Makarios
    09 Jan 2015

    I think I have the same thing, to a lesser extent. I tend to be more positive and energetic when the sun is shining, but I can deal with some greyness, as long as I don’t have to go outside. When it’s cold, though, I just want to curl up in bed and stay there for months at a time.

    • Eve
      09 Jan 2015

      Indeed, cold is beastly. When people say they like winter, I suddenly feel awkward in the conversation. As if I’ve just realised I’m talking to a flesh-eating alien in a human-suit.

      My affliction must really be just about what makes my day nicer, I think. When I was a kid, I loved rainy weather — because I was allowed to watch videos. Ye olde VHS. And I hated sunny weather — because at home I wasn’t allowed to watch videos, and at school I wasn’t allowed to read a book inside, during interval. I had to ‘run around outside’.

      Now, I’m a lot more productive in an environment that’s light, warm, and tidy/spacious. So maybe I just get a case of the grumps when the weather doesn’t accommodate that.

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