Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's actually called Summer SAD


Remember when I joked about having Reverse Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder? Well, first of all, I wasn't really joking, and second of all, it turns out there really is such a thing. I found that out when a stranger left a comment on that post a few months after I wrote it, telling me so.

I was simultaneously relieved and alarmed by this knowledge. It was all well and good to make light of the fact that I felt wilted and desiccated during the spring and summer months in Tucson. But it was unnerving to realize that not only is there a name for what I was experiencing, there are other people who have the same problem. I mean, enough people casually or emphatically agreed with me in the comments section of that post, but in the real world there is a website and a support group and a New York Times article and everything.


So if we accept that Summer SAD is a real thing, and that I have it, at least to some degree, how am I doing now that we live in Ithaca? I'm sure there are plenty of you sitting pretty in Tucson, biding your time, twiddling your fingers like Mr. Burns, just waiting for me to start wailing about the bleak weather here.

Well, you probably shouldn't hold your breath. In many ways, I feel like a whole new person, for reasons that cannot be attributed to other life changes like Jeremy's job or Miriam starting preschool. I started noticing it a few weeks after we moved here: I had more energy. I enjoyed having the windows and blinds open so I could see the outdoors, instead of closing them to block out the sun. I started running more, and running faster, and getting more enjoyment out of it. When I was outside, I often found myself pausing to soak up and appreciate the beauty and green and life-sustaining surroundings. This recharged me.

Another thing that has brought me some unexpected joy is the weather forecast. Yes, the weather forecast. I never had to use one in Tucson. Why would I have needed to? The little weather picture was always a huge blazing yellow sun ball with a way-too-high temperature listed below it. Now, on the rare occasion that Ithaca's forecast pictures a sun in a blue sky, I find I appreciate it more because it's not always around, shining in my eyes and sucking the energy from me. It's tempered and more distant, somehow, a kinder, gentler sun than the one I knew in Tucson.

I know I haven't been through an Ithaca winter yet, and yes, it was kind of a pain (and kind of expensive) to outfit our kids with all the necessary snow gear that they will need before too long, but I think it's safe to say that I am no longer suffering from Summer SAD.

Aaaaaaaaand I just realized that this post probably sounds a little crazy. Sorry about that, but I'm being completely honest. I know it is strange to not like the sun shining on you all the time. But perhaps this post will make a little sense to someone out there

18 comments:

Nancy said...

Greenery = Happiness.

Desert = Not Happiness.

At least in my books. Perhaps it has more to do with trees than the sun. Maybe...

I'm kind of looking forward to weather again. Weather other than sun (we occasionally get sand, too. I didn't know there was a "sand" weather pattern but here there is; it's not much different than the "sun," truthfully).

U of A asked Andrew to apply. So we are because, well, when someone asks you do do something (like apply to grad school) there's a good chance that something will happen...but I'm not sure how I feel about living in Tucson.

So fingers crossed for Quebec or New York to pull through...

Of course, I suffer from SAD, so perhaps the harsh winters aren't what I need...

I don't think I've lived in the heat enough years to suffer from SSAD...although SAD hit me PDQ in Alberta (like the first few weeks we lived there--talk about bleak).

Anyway...

Eevi said...

I can totally understand your view. I love when we have cloudy days here and it gets chilly enough that I can wear a sweatshirt.

HOwever, long winters in Finland can take a toll on you as well. It's not so much the cold weather, but the constant darkness. You probably experienced that in Russia. However, I would still prefer that over the Tucson climate.

Aimee said...

I LOVE seasons, they make me happy! Even when we are in Vienna and have to walk everywhere and its raining and windy, it just wouldn't be the Christmas market without the cold of winter! I am glad you got affirmation that Summer SAD is a very true affliction. :-)

karina said...

There's no way I could ever survive in Arizona.

I'm not sure how the winter will be for you in NY, but here in MI they are very cold and very dark. Like you don't see the sun ever kind of dark. There are so many layers of clouds that no sunlight can stream through (no cloudy days in any other state I've lived in - and I've lived in many - can compare to the cloudy days here).

If they are just as dark in NY, I suggest getting a sunlamp. They really do help a lot! I have two - one real one that is pretty big that you sit in front of for 15 minutes a day and another one that is a dawn simulator. I use it as an alarm clock - the sun rises at the time I choose every day! They're pricey, but worth it!

Crys said...

Summer in Arizona sucks! I will agree with you there. It wasn't some huge surprise to people that I left home and pretty much never came back. On the other hand winter pretty much sucks as well. Don't get me wrong, I love Fall. The weather is great, the colors are fabulous but I always feel a sense of dread because I know something bad is coming. Well now it is here. Ever since daylight savings left I'm back to my seasonal depression. We get out of church at four and the sun is almost gone. And then winter comes and there is no green. There is brown and ice. It makes me cold and sad just to think about it.

Liz Johnson said...

I totally get that. And I agree with Nancy - for me, it has more to do with trees and less to do with sun and/or temperature. But I definitely prefer the freezing cold to the blazing hot, hands down.

Kelli said...

I love your post - so interesting! I grew up in the desert, and I crave the sun, heat and, yes, sand - all the time. I crave the 3 months of 120 degrees and all day, every day swimming and feel deprived without it. I don't have SAD, but the winters here in Ithaca have been rough for me. I don't blame it on the cold, although that doesn't help. It's the weeks of no sunlight and the days I can't leave my house because I can't find my car in the snowdrift.
That being said, I totally appreciate all the things you hate about living in Tucson!

Craig said...

I have lived summers and winters in many places--cold and hot. Grew up mostly in Southern California, but lived in Montana, Idaho, and Utah, among other places. I remember as a child being so sad leaving Montana and the rest of my family thought I was crazy (due to the extreme weather there).
There is something to be said for striving to love where you currently live, but I can honestly say I love where I live now the best of all. We definitely get seasons here in the Pacific NW, but moderate winters and summers both. The winter darkness and dreary drizzles bother many people, but I find the cool (and even wet) weather so refreshing and invigorating.
Of course, I enjoy the exotic experience of visiting California in winter--the warmth and sun. The coldest weather I have ever experienced was returning from California to Provo, UT, after Christmas break during college--it was the contrast of shirt sleeves to near zero degrees with snow, ice, and darkness.
Anyway, great post, as usual. Many of us now need to "gird up our loins", so to speak, now that DST is gone, it gets dark early, and days are getting shorter and colder.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I grew up in a high desert climate and loved it. The difference between the upper Mohave compared w/ say, the Phoenix area, is that it is high enough to cool off at night, and you actually get winter temps and maybe sometimes snow.

In places I've lived w/ colder, drearier winters I learned to enjoy them and a big part of that is having the right clothing. With that I relish the cold and snow and love the dreary days, the comfort of fleece, doing indoor projects that I'll never get around to in summer.

When I've been in Phoenix I have felt claustrophobia because of the windows being shut and AC on 24/7. Open windows and fresh air are more appealing to me. Hope you relish the Ithaca winters!

Alyson P. said...

A positive about AZ = cheap winter clothes. I always go to second-hand stores and find new stuff with tags still on or in great condition. Including boots.

A negative = you didn't buy winter clothes before you left!

The Ensign's said...

You're making me want to move out of this place. Come on..... Tucson can't be that bad. You make it sound a little like hell on earth. Temperature wise anyways.

Jill said...

I'm totally with you, Bridget. We can't wait to get out of Tucson and go someplace with seasons and trees! I'm glad you love where you live. Being out in trees and pleasant weather is so invigorating!

christi and clifton said...

Is it just what you grew up with? I grew up in Lake Havasu City, AZ and that is about as hot as you can get. I went to college for 3 years in Rexburg, ID so I got to briefly experience the cold winters and seasons. I think I would choose Arizona. The colors and weather in Idaho were great in the fall, but I will never miss fearing for my life every time I drove with someone in the winter. To me, the winter was just as bad as an Arizona summer because you went from one warm building to another and didn't spend a lot of time outside just like you do with cool buildings in the summer. At least in the summer you can swim and cool off. I could never get warm in the winter outside no matter what I wore. I guess there are pros and cons to everywhere you can live. I'm glad you found a perfect place for you. Maybe it would be different now that I have kids and am not a student-I hope I never have to find out.

Amber said...

I am with you on Summer SAD. I totally felt it when I was living in LA - I missed the seasons and I hated the constant hot weather. I also, however, hated winters in New York, so maybe I am just really hard to please. On the other hand, me hating winters in NY may have to do with the fact that I had to walk through several inches or even feet of snow and horrible, blistering winds every day for three months just to get to and from work...We'll see how I do with the constant rainy weather in Portland this winter, especially since I won't have to walk in it if I don't want to! I hope the winter is kind to you, at least.

Anonymous said...

If the summer caused SAD, how do you explain the hurtful comments that you make on random people's blogs in the fall? The mustache is awesome and a sign of maturity.

Bridget said...

Oh, that was you, CHAD? I had no idea. Sorry to hurt your feelings.

Bezzie said...

I had the same thing happen to me when we lived in Texas. Ugh. It still makes me twitchy remembering the "winter" there.

I was born and raised in Alaska, the cold and dark don't bother me.

But why do they call it "Reverse" SAD? Last time I checked it was SEASONAL Affective Disorder. Isn't summer a season too? Maybe I'm missing something.

Kristen said...

Dude, I thought Anonymous was saying YOU had a mustache.

Anyway, I'm so glad that you're happier in Ithaca and out of the blazing sun. It seems so lovely there (a lot like the Northwest, is it?). Nobody needs 105 degree weather all the time, and with a tendency toward Summer SAD, that must have been even more awful!

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