I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I hope today I can shed some light on what’s been happening for me and why I’ve been so absent on my blog and on most social media platforms.
Spring is here, and summer is lurking right around the corner. The sun is shining on most days, the air is becoming warmer, and excitement around the rumoured on-coming heatwave is bubbling away. Winter blues have been stripped away and the promise of summer sun seems to have risen the spirits of everyone.
I hate summer and I always have.
Every year I dread it and silently mourn the passing of autumn and winter. Over the years I’ve given myself reasons as to why I hate summer so much:
- I’m pale and ginger and therefore burn easily, even with factor 50 or above sun cream.
- I always found making and keeping friends difficult, so when summer came and the few friends I had were off on holiday or spending time with their family and other friends, I found myself feeling consistently and increasingly lonely.
- I thrive on routine and schedule, so when school or university was out for the summer I was bound to feel listless and at a loss with what to do with myself.
- I’ve always been overweight, so wearing summer clothes that would help me feel cool just made me feel self-conscious. Instead, I chose to let myself boil half to death in my winter clothes and save my shrinking self-confidence.
Of course, these things didn’t help how I was feeling, but they weren’t the reason why I hated summer so much. As it turns out, I have SO SAD. Summer on-set seasonal affective disorder. Winter SAD’s lesser known and less understood sibling. The third Hemsworth brother of seasonal affective disorder.
It was my Dad that first pointed out to me that I might have the condition last year, and I thought about it for a long time. It certainly made sense, so I decided to look it up. Aside from discovering that there was very little known about it compared to winter SAD, I discovered that 10% of people with SAD are suffering from the summer variation and that the symptoms of SO SAD are of the reverse of winter SAD.
For example, winter SAD sufferers may find themselves sleeping more, but SO SAD sufferers find themselves with insomnia. Winter SAD sufferers can find themselves eating more and gaining weight whilst people with SO SAD lose their appetites and lose weight. But the depression and low energy is consistent between both disorders.
Every summer I get insomnia, every summer I eat less, every summer I find my standard depression becoming worse than usual. I had been feeling rough lately; lacklustre, full of anxiety, listening to the intrusive and depressing thoughts in my head, and was disinterested in blogging, journaling, writing, and reading. But I put those things down to being busy, tired and somewhat burnt out.
About a week ago, a few days after breaking down in tears at work for no apparent reason, a colleague told me that I had lost weight and suddenly it all clicked into place. The SO SAD had settled in for the summer without me even noticing. It had crept in slowly since March and silently set up camp in my brain. SAD is so present in my life that I no longer realise when it happens and that it isn’t normal to feel this way.
I quickly retreated into myself and only forced a smile when I was serving customers at work. I passively consumed media on Netflix and online to pass the time until bedtime, but even then, I was struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep. I didn’t dress or shower if I didn’t have to, didn’t cook or eat unless I was at work or my parents had ordered in. I spent as much time in bed as possible, ignored social media, and muted every conversation with friends I could. I just didn’t have the energy to be me.
This sort of thing happens for me over spring and summer in waves. I’m feeling better after this first bout of depression for the season, but I know it will happen again. Learning how to better control it and how to make myself feel well over the summer is going to take a lot of time and effort but I know it’s going to be worth it in the end.
But for now, I’m taking joy in the small things I do like about summer: the flowers that pepper the earth in a beautiful, vibrant array of colours, the lighter evenings and mornings, the earthy smell of freshly cut grass, the ripe and sweet fruits on the independent stall next to the Tesco in town. The way the sun dances on the ocean’s ripples, making it look as though it is made of diamonds, and my Dad’s self-satisfied grin when he makes that first pitcher of Pimm’s for the season.
SAD sucks no matter which kind you have, but I’m determined not to let it stop me from producing content, doing the things I love, and joining in with life. I might need some time to be miserable for a while, but I can guarantee it won’t be the only thing I am this summer.
I hope you’re all well and I can’t wait to post again soon!