I live in an arid climate, with little rain and scorching hot summers. We will reach temperatures rivaling those in a southern California heat wave and then…the last week of August comes. Something happens during that time, and I only remember it so well because Nathan was born during that week. The rain comes. He was born while the rain hit the window panes of the hospital and nearly every birthday of his is a cloudy and/or rainy day.

I mean, we need the rain, being on water restrictions for six months of the year, but because it happens during the last week of August the sun never quite recovers. It sits lower in the sky and shines a little quieter that it used to. The afternoons may warm up (and there was that one glorious September two years ago where we beached it every day after school), but the evenings are cool and the mornings, colder. It may still be summer on the calendar, but the air outside smells like fall.

Last year, I finally figured out why I was one of the few people not excited about the change of seasons. Everyone around me seems to be applauding the cooler weather and the receding heat and I’m stubbornly standing there yelling, “NOOOO” as if I think that would make it stop. I like fall. I do. Pretty leaves and jeans with cute sweaters and roasts in the crock pot and the ability to wear more that a tank top and underwear without drowning in a puddle of your own sweat. HOWEVER. Fall, at least in my neck of the woods, is a short, short season. Before we know it there is ice on my windshield in the morning and the wood stove is burning twenty-four hours a day and there is snow on the deck and ice on the roads and my lovely Reynaud’s phenomenon (“phenomenon” sounds cool, but I assure you that it’s not) acts up when I simply walk from my house to my vehicle.

If you’ve been around here since at least last winter, you know how long and far my hatred of the season goes. I hate everything about it, save for Christmas. I hate being trapped indoors and I hate how the lake fog engulfs the sun so that we’re trapped in a cloak of grey and I hate that my photography stalls because I prefer to shoot in natural light and how “natural light” occurs between the hours of ten and two and how everything is just COLD and DARK and NOT MY FAVORITE.

Last weekend, Matthew and I were looking at the weather forecast for this week as he was planning out his hunting trip. Rain, clouds, GREY. I told him that I felt that sinking feeling rising up in the pit of my stomach. Rain and grey and then SNOW and ME BEING MELANCHOLY and IT’S ALL COMING.

He suggested that maybe I go see my doctor and talk about medication.

Wait. What?

He told me that he’s seen me get progressively worse every year, even though last winter was even much milder than the winter before. I know that winter affects me and he knows that winter affects me and heck, the entire Internet knows that winter affects me. Maybe I can’t do this on my own; maybe I need a little bit of chemical help.

No.

I’m not being stubborn (OK, maybe a little) but I also don’t think I’m quite there yet. Yet.

This is not to knock those who need to take medication. Some of my closest friends and some family members do. I know the struggles they face and I know that they really do need medication to balance themselves out. I’m not saying that I’m better than that…I’m just saying that I know how dark they’ve been and I haven’t been there. I sleep fine, I eat fine, I go throughout my day fine. My sparkle may lose some of its shine some days, but I leap out of bed every day (or, slither, like the rest of you) and do fine. I just have that undercurrent of mellow that is not there when the sun is shining. I also fear that side effects from medication may be worse than feeling down; I happen to like my sex life, thankyouverymuch.

I think that this winter will be different than last, in that I am working full-time outside of the house. I won’t be sitting at my kitchen table, isolated from the bulk of humanity, watching the snow fall and pining for summer days. For while we all know that working outside of the home has been hard for me in relation to missing my kids, I should state for the record that I enjoy my time in an office, conversing with other adults whom I’ve known for years.. The Keurig coffee maker is just an added bonus.

So…my plan is to keep up with my daily exercise regime (Boot Camp twice a week, running/workout DVD’s the other days), to possibly tan once or twice a week (don’t even start), to keep eating healthy and to make time to spend with friends. Oh, and to keep up my near-daily “alone time” with my husband. Ahem.

I can state for a fact that while this week has been dark and gloomy (the rain is falling outside as I type this), I don’t feel as dark as I did last year at the same time. I’m doing all that I can to keep the keel even and so far, so good. I know that we’re barely a week into September and I know that I am an eternal optimist, so you don’t need to remind me. Just know that I do feel better than I did last year at the beginning of September. Please also know that I may get darker and that I may use this space to get the dark out and that I may need you to shed a little light on me.

I don’t want to fall but I also know that I will be lifted up before I hit bottom.

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Comments:

  1. Eric's Mommy September 9, 2010 5:19 am edit

    My 2 favorite seasons are Spring and Fall. Summer is too hot for me and Winter, let’s not go there. I hate Winter so much, January and February are horrible, worst months EVER!

  2. Sherry September 9, 2010 6:56 am edit

    Have you ever tried those light boxes that mimic the sun? I wonder if one of those would help on the cold grey days.
    .-= Sherry´s last blog ..He rocked us like a hurricane =-.

  3. Sharon September 9, 2010 7:13 am edit

    I definitely understand your desire to not take medication until you know it’s absolutely necessary. I have SAD, and have tried to avoid medication too. So far I’m doing okay, but I know it might be necessary in the future. Like Sherry mentioned, I use a light box every morning for a half hour (I read blogs and catch up on emails during this time), and that’s my form of therapy. It’s really effective. I’m not chipper and cheerful and annoyingly happy – I’m just myself, with less mood swings and the lows are not as low any more. If I can tell I’m becoming sadder more often, I’ll just turn up the brightness a bit more, and sit there for a bit longer. So far this has worked great for me, and I’m glad there are ways of managing this without taking medication at the moment. :)
    .-= Sharon´s last blog ..Living life to the fullest =-.

  4. bethany actually September 9, 2010 7:57 am edit

    My mom was born in Texas, grew up in Southern California, and moved to Nebraska with my dad when she was 21. She’s lived in Nebraska for nearly 40 years now and her deep and abiding dislike of winter has not wavered once during that time. She admits that the cool temperatures of fall are a relief after the heat and humidity of summer, and that the first snow of the year can be pretty, but other that that she HATES cold weather, she HATES driving in ice and snow, and and lets us all know about it all winter long, every year. So I totally understand how you could just plain not like winter and be blue about it while still not needing medication. I think you are on the right track with planning ways to keep your perspective now, before it’s even cold.
    .-= bethany actually´s last blog ..Annalieisms on Twitter – August 2010 =-.

  5. sizzle September 9, 2010 8:05 am edit

    I definitely get the SADS when winter hits. The PNW has a really short autumn and coming from a CA beach town, I’m used to more sun for longer. I think you’ve got a good plan- keep working out, keep getting out, keep busy, and maybe sitting under those tanning lights will lift your spirits. I’m not one who supports such things due to the risks but I know plenty of friends who swear on their sanity because of those trips to get some “sun”.

  6. Laura Radniecki September 9, 2010 8:09 am edit

    I equal your sentiments for winter. Fall doesn’t last nearly long enough here, it’s so fleeting. I love winter and snow until January 2nd. Maybe January 3rd. Then, I’m over it. I’m ready for April/May. I’ll shed light on your sorrow if you do the same for me when you need it. :) I think it’s the lack of sunshine and the dark-at-4:30-pm thing that really gets me. After shooting non stop all summer, not being able to shoot much this winter will be really weird and probably quite hard.
    .-= Laura Radniecki´s last blog ..The Kannels – Brainerd Maternity Photography =-.

  7. Procrastamom September 9, 2010 9:56 am edit

    I’m originally from Alberta and have lived in the Lower Mainland for 12 years. I’m still not used to the looooong dark winters of rain and I don’t know if I ever will be. It was darned cold in Calgary in the winter, but at least the sun shined most days. I really miss the light. The days are getting dark earlier here already and, like you, I’m getting a little anxious. I like your idea of tanning, at least maybe once or twice a month just to get the warmth and the light from it. In the meantime, I’m holding my breath til March…

  8. Danica September 9, 2010 10:12 am edit

    I hate winter too. I’ve always been a summer girl, and it always seemed too short. In the last few years I’ve really taken a shine to spring and fall. So now I’m sitting at enjoying the weather for 3/4 of the year. Not so bad. So when the cold starts getting me down, I just hold on and hold on and hold on, knowing that I’ll get through it, and when it’s over, I have three glorious seasons of reward.
    I like your plan of attack for dealing with it. I, too, have always been resistant to the drug route (although I recognize that for some, it’s a lifesaver). I’m all for making as many beneficial lifestyle changes as possible to get through the rough spots. I hope it goes well for you this year.
    .-= Danica´s last blog ..Because I forgot two days ago… =-.

  9. Tia September 9, 2010 10:15 am edit

    My husband is from S. Florida, and the grey fall/winter/spring of Portland is REALLY hard on him. He finally started on drugs 2 winters ago, and took them for about a year. He said it made everything worse because it made him so “flat.” He wasn’t interested in anything, and he hated how he felt. He went off of the meds, and within a month I had my husband back. I hadn’t fully realized how different (in a bad way) he was on the meds.

    Last winter I bought him a SAD lamp from Costco. It went on 30 minutes before his alarm went off, and he said it made a HUGE HUGE difference. We joke that that little light saved his life – but it sort of did.

  10. Kami's Khlopchyk September 9, 2010 10:29 am edit

    I have a bit of that too, as you well know what with all my ranting. But I think you have the perfect attitude about medication – you will know when/if you need it.

    Until then, keep your chin up.

    Totally jealous of your coffee maker at work, oh and the adult conversation too ;) I just took on more CASB stuff, but I am really excited about it.
    .-= Kami’s Khlopchyk´s last blog ..To Find A Soulmate =-.

  11. Lisa September 9, 2010 11:45 am edit

    Its kind of the opposite here in Phoenix, AZ! The dog days of summer drag on for months. We get super excited if the temp is supposed to drop below 100. I can imagine how you feel though, as much as I have to deal with the sweating from April to October, I would surely miss the sun, and get grumpy if it rains more than a few days in a row.

    Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D, as this could contribute to the blues. I hope we can help you keep your spirits up this year!
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Putting boundaries on adventure =-.

  12. daysgoby September 9, 2010 12:10 pm edit

    A –

    My husband has SAD (which makes him, literally, a sad dad) and a light box and taking a whack of B? (I think? I will find out what he takes if you’re interested at all, but I know it’s natural) vitamins keeps him less morose during the blahs of winter and early spring.
    .-= daysgoby´s last blog ..the war on crunchy green stuff =-.

    1. Meg September 9, 2010 2:17 pm edit

      Probably vitamin D-it’s what we produce from the sun. My dad swears by it!
      I’ve hit rock bottom, and it’s not fun-so I’ll stay on the meds for the rest of my life. But it’s different for me-it’s not a seasonal thing, it’s a cyclical thing!
      Do try to find a SAD light, I’ve heard great things about them!
      .-= Meg´s last blog ..I’m still here! =-.

  13. Chris September 9, 2010 12:39 pm edit

    I am totally with you in regards to fall. Everyone I know seems to mark it down as their favorite season but not yours truly. If it was up to me summer would last 12 months a year. And as you know, I live in the extreme climate of the California desert, where this week temperatures have gone down into the 90s from the 110s. Thank goodness this weekend we will reach the 100s again. Summer just needs to hold on a bit longer!
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Pier-to-Peak 2010 – The Return to the Mountain =-.

  14. Hannah September 9, 2010 2:29 pm edit

    I’ve never had SAD, because our winters are MILD (like, it never gets below about 2-4 degrees Celsius, and it never snows). But I’ve had PPD, twice. I was on antidepressants for a year, both times. I needed to take them. But I totally agree, medication is a last resort. I was in a very deep, black pit where I had suicidal thoughts, no appetite, poor sleep, strained relationships … and I think you are right in saying that if you haven’t been in “that” place, if you don’t feel you are “that bad”, then you should try some alternative therapies first. Exercise is a REALLY good one. I know you love it, and I think keeping up your routines even during winter will definitely help your mood. I was useless at it, so it didn’t help me. Funny that you have to actually DO it for it to have an effect?! The light box idea that has been suggested could also be worth a try. I’ve written a few studies about the use of light therapy for SAD, and it has been proven effective. I think you (and Matthew) will recognise if and when you ever get to the stage where you DO need medication, and it will be a decision you make with a lot of forethought and prayer. HUGS!!
    .-= Hannah´s last blog ..Underpants =-.

  15. kim @ mommyknows September 9, 2010 4:10 pm edit

    I get it, really I do. I live in EDMONTON!

    I’ve also lived in YELLOWKNIFE. Sorry for shouting, but they are both so damn cold.

    I think that mind set plays a huge part in whether or not you enjoy winter. I used to be just like you. Then I moved to NWT and spent a winter in the dark and cold. Everyone did outdoor activities, dress properly for the outdoors and rarely complained about the cold. I joined in and I’ve never looked back.

    I still don’t love winter, but I often find myself enjoying it.

    Lecture over … you’ll forgive me right?

    Kim xo

  16. Mrs. Wilson September 9, 2010 6:26 pm edit

    “I also fear that side effects from medication may be worse than feeling down; I happen to like my sex life, thankyouverymuch.”

    This is why I stopped medication. Side effects SUCK and sex on antidepressants SUCKS. It really doesn’t sound like you need it though. A friend of mine got some sort of sun lamp that made a huge improvement in her life during the late fall/winter/early spring (and sometimes year round because, well, you know northern BC weather!)

    Also, time with friends helps SO MUCH!!!

    :)
    .-= Mrs. Wilson´s last blog ..three-year-old logic =-.

  17. Ninabi September 9, 2010 7:22 pm edit

    I sooo understand the hating of winter. I really do. We lived in Seattle for three years and the December days were short.

    First year- cozy. Second year- full spectrum bulb for me. Third year- everybody huddled ’round the lamp. That- and a scheduled trip to southern CA- got us through.

    Do you have full spectrum bulbs? Could you schedule a trip to a warm and sunny place as well?

  18. Lisa September 10, 2010 5:28 pm edit

    I am just like you. This time of year has me DREADING the cold to come. And like you, people around me are REJOICING while I am yelling, “NO..BRING BACK THE 80′s FROM JUST LAST WEEK!”

  19. Mom S September 11, 2010 12:47 pm edit

    Sounds like you have a plan – God bless you through the weather adjustments! Wore socks for the first time in months – yuck.
    Me – my body’s in Gibsons, but my mind’s still in Cancun…
    am – vitamin D 2000 iu
    pm – vitamin B complex – 100
    weekly – infrared sauna detox, awesome!

  20. Renee September 13, 2010 7:47 am edit

    You have near-daily “alone time” with your husband after 3 kids?!?! I’m impressed!

  21. monstergirlee September 13, 2010 8:04 am edit

    Hi – sorry so late Angella.
    But I just wanted to reassure you that you can use this space any way you want and feel free to celebrate as well as to vent.
    Sounds like you have a pretty good action plan for this year. I hope things go well.

    btw – Reynauds Phenomenon? Bummer dude.
    .-= monstergirlee´s last blog ..Camp Runamok =-.

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