The end of summer always brings me sadness — and I mean that quite literally, since I suffer from the mood disorder SAD (seasonal affective disorder) that always sets in around late August and usually sticks around until sometime in late January or early February, when the days start to become noticeably longer.
It seems incongruous to me that it is still so swelteringly hot (we hit 90 degrees F today) and yet signs of fall are everywhere: Halloween (and even Thanksgiving and Christmas) products and decorations in the stores, kids going back to school, the presence of school buses on the roads when I drive to work in the morning, a few falling leaves here and there, and that tired, wilted, look the trees and shrubs get before they begin to turn their fall colors (around here, that usually means dingy brown). And, of course, the dreaded Pumpkin Spice Everything.
Another sign that summer is at its end is the closing of public swimming pools. Even though it’s still as hot as the inside of a locked car in Miami, the municipal pool has closed its doors until next Memorial Day. I found that out when I drove over there this afternoon, hoping to enjoy a quick cool down in the water. Instead of the welcome sight and sounds of people splashing happily in the refreshing turquoise water and the occasional whistle from the lifeguard, what I found instead was a completely abandoned concrete building guarding the pool, which was half-drained so whatever water was left looked as refreshing as thick green pond scum. The surrounding chain link fence with its rusty Master locks keeping the gates closed completed the desolate look. The fact I was sweating balls under the blistering sun and the sky was a deep bright summer blue dotted with fluffy cumulus clouds made the sight seem even sadder somehow.
There was also not one person in sight.
I took a few photos so my visit there wouldn’t be a total waste of time.
I enhanced the above “closed” announcement on the main building with a sepia toned filter for a nostalgic effect.
In the above photo, I used a color enhancing filter, making the water a more lurid green and the sky even bluer than it actually was.
Abandoned pool and lifeguard chair in black and white.
It’s gorgeous outside today (though unseasonably hot) but for some reason I have no energy at all. It’s not lack of sleep, since I slept for about 11 hours and woke up late. I’m too tired to even go for a drive. Maybe it’s my SAD kicking in. Sometimes I get more fatigued than depressed when that happens.
So I’m just going to read for a while and then maybe take a nap. After that, I’ll spend some time on this blog. Maybe I’ll write a post or maybe I won’t, but it’s time for some organization. I made a new category last night (Politics and Trumpism) since I have so many related posts now and they need to be in their own section!
Hope everyone is having a great day!
This is what greeted me this morning on my way to work! Life can’t be all bad!
Soon I will start feeling better and get some relief from my severe SAD. The winter solstice was two days ago (or is it three?) so the days are already getting longer. I’ll start feeling the effects late next month.
I’m not going to lie. I’ve been feeling pretty down and out about everything the past few days. Maybe it’s the letdown after “returning to reality” last week, or maybe it’s another huge pocket of pain coming to the surface that needs release. I know what I can do about that. I can meet my two new friends in Chapel Hill who have promised to work with me on that, but I have to set up a whole day to make the 4-hour drive there and back, and spend several hours in therapy.
My depression could be due to the sudden arrival of “winter”– all the leaves are finally gone, it’s suddenly cold and the days are unbearably short. I spent the entire day curled up on the couch with a blanket eating junk food staring at my box TV, watching episodes of “Pitbulls and Parolees” on Animal Planet and crying during and after every heartwarming/heartbreaking episode. And I don’t even like Pitbulls! My pitiful little two foot tall fiber optic Christmas tree sitting in the corner by the window seemed to mock me. Where’s my Christmas spirit? I have none right now. And I don’t care.
Several real world issues (like terrible water pressure caused by years of incompetent jimmy-rigged plumbing in a 108 year old house that all needs to be redone and will cost thousands of dollars that my landlord doesn’t want to spend and I certainly don’t have)–things that aren’t really disasters but have the potential to become disasters aren’t helping. I’m trying to work out solutions to these seemingly impossible dilemmas but don’t have the motivation or energy to do very much except complain and whine about how awful and annoying they are. I almost don’t care. The whole house is falling apart anyway. The landlord does nothing. I just want to move. But that’s not looking like it’s in the immediate future either.
I’m getting older and feeling increasingly helpless and adrift in life unless things begin to change or I get a handle on myself and obtain more motivation to change some things myself–like writing that ebook I always talk about writing. I know I could probably sell it and at least earn enough to move–maybe. But my motivation to write or create anything is gone. All I want to do is eat and sleep. I don’t even want to blog or read. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t even feel like looking for a sad picture for this post.
I feel like maybe something very dark, some hidden or unseen outcropping of the Himalayan-sized mountain range of my abandonment trauma got triggered during my HeartSync week that wasn’t fully resolved or fully released. I remember feeling like there was more I had to get out, but there wasn’t enough time to work on that.
I’m having lots of doubts about my faith too, which alarms me. I feel like I need to call these two people in Chapel Hill really soon. I also want my copy of Pete Walker’s “C-PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving” back. My therapist has had it for months and I doubt has even read it. I think I’m going to ask him to bring it back, because I sure could use the advice in it right now.
I didn’t want to write anything tonight. But I wanted to be honest. So there you go. That’s where I’m at. I’m going to put on my light therapy lamp for awhile and just try to relax and talk to God even if he’s AWOL at the moment. Then go to sleep.
I’ve been taking melatonin (a natural hormone produced by the human pineal gland that controls the sleep/wake cycle and circadian rhythms) to control my SAD symptoms. It’s working, but there is a side effect — very weird and vivid dreams. This isn’t as unpleasant as it seems. Some of the dreams are interesting, if not entirely pleasant. One I had last night seemed important enough I’m going to talk about it in therapy this week. I was still half asleep when I scribbled it down so I would remember later.
There’s a reason for this. Scientific evidence has shown that melatonin releases small amounts of dimethyltryptamine (DMT) from the pineal gland. DMT is a powerful (actually the most powerful) psychedelic drug, and also the only one that is naturally produced in the human (and other mammalian) brain and is likely responsible for both dreaming and near-death experiences (NDE’s).
Melatonin is fairly safe and won’t make you high or cause you to trip. But if you want to remember your dreams more easily or have more interesting dreams, it might just do the trick. You might not get as much sleep though, because you’ll be waking up from dreams more often. It has been effective for my SAD. I haven’t felt as depressed since I’ve been taking it, even though I’m probably getting less sleep.
Even though it’s available without a prescription, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before taking any hormonal supplement.
Appreciating fall isn’t easy for me. It’s my worst time of year and when my SAD is at its worst. I find fall depressing, for reasons I’ve already discussed in this post.
Most of the trees around here aren’t very pretty in the fall. In my part of the country, we don’t get too many of the brilliant fall colors that so many people crow on endlessly about. Every year, no matter what the summer weather has been like, the trees change from green to dull brown or sometimes this ugly shade of maroon and finally to bare. It’s a depressing sight, and I’m not a fall holiday sort of person at all so that doesn’t make up for anything. I don’t see what the big deal is about pumpkins and why everyone gets so excited about them. They’re just an overgrown squash and nearly inedible too. (Gourds are a little better because they’re more interesting looking).
My dislike of fall is weird because during my teens and 20s, fall was actually my favorite season. I don’t know when this began to change. I also don’t remember what I liked so much about it. Maybe I never really did, and just convinced myself I loved fall because all my friends did and liking fall was considered much cooler than liking spring. Only old people liked spring best. Or so it seemed at the time. But I really am kind of old now, so I don’t have to feel guilty about liking spring best anymore.
I’m trying to like fall. I really am. The weather is pleasant, at least through early November (then it’s all downhill). We do have a few colorful maples here and there. There are actually quite a few at the shopping center where I was this morning (probably planted there on purpose for their colors). I decided to pick up a few of the fallen leaves that are actually showing pretty colors and arranged them on a black velvet pillow for this picture.
This coming Friday, October 21, the foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway will be at its peak, and I’ve taken the day off work anyway, so I plan to drive up there and just try to appreciate the fall scenery and spend some time in nature before the dreary November rains come and finally winter is once again upon us.
God sometimes comes through in small, unexpected ways when we appeal to him for help. I think he appoints certain people to serve as angels right here on earth. A dear friend of mine, active for a long time on this blog, empathized with my problems coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder, and offered to purchase me a light therapy lamp, knowing I could not afford one. (They aren’t cheap). I burst into tears of gratitude when she told me she was buying me one. She didn’t want me to pay her back either.
Yesterday I got my package from Amazon. At first I couldn’t imagine why I was getting a package, since I haven’t ordered anything recently. I had forgotten about the light therapy lamp. But then I remembered, and excitedly opened the package.
It’s a handsome streamlined model, portable, perfect for propping up next to me while I write on my blog. It also makes a terrific reading light.
There really are angels among us. You just never know how God will come through. I’m also taking Melatonin (which regulates the sleep cycle) and St. Johns Wart (a natural herbal antidepressant). Two new front tires on my car so I don’t have to worry about sliding all over the roads when the ice and snow starts, and I’m good to go.
I’ll let you all know how this regimen works on my SAD.
Here are two photos of my new light (closed and open).
As someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I’m extremely sensitive to the shortening days and increased darkness of fall. Believe it or not, my disorder actually begins to kick in during high summer–around early August–when the days are growing noticeably shorter, even though the heat and humidity is at its peak. So it’s really the lessening light, and not cooler weather, that sends me into the yearly doldrums and makes me feel depressed. I’ve sometimes wondered if SAD might be some kind of evolutionary throwback to a time when we still hibernated. I know every year I want to go into hibernation and sleep away the fall and winter and wake up again in early spring.
Another weird thing about my SAD is that it begins to dissipate sometime in late January or early February, when the days are beginning to grow noticeably longer. Even though February days are still shorter than September days, it’s the increase of light every day that begins to improve my mood, not the actual amount of light.
But I couldn’t feel too depressed about fall beginning in just a couple days when I saw this little treat in the front of my house. I don’t know where this vine with these cute little red flowers came from–it looks like a type of morning glory (Bluebird of Bitterness might know what these are). Maybe my daughter planted some seeds here, or maybe they’re just growing there all on their own. However they got here, they made me smile this morning.
Also, my rose bush and the blue morning glories I planted back in April are turning my small garden into a riot of color (and I even spied a few bumblebees in the trumpet shaped flowers), so it seems like summer isn’t quite ready to go anywhere yet!
ETA: I found out the small red-orange morning glories in front of the house are actually a very rare variety called “Orange Noah.” They bloom in late summer and fall, when most other glories are ready to quit for the year. But where they came from is still a mystery!