Summertime Sadness: It's Not Just a Song
Summer. It's a time when people are outside, basking in the sunlight. Summer barbecues, pool parties, random games of touch-football. The smells of freshly cut grass and sunblock wafting in the air. People socializing, laughing, having a good time. And then there's me, hating every minute of it and counting down the minutes until fall.
Do you know how some people get depressed in the winter time? Usually around the holidays? It's officially called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons and most commonly occurs during the fall and winter.
Yeah, that's not me. I haven't been officially diagnosed, but I truly believe I suffer from what's called summer depression, which is SAD that occurs during the spring and summer. It's much less common. I like to call it "reverse" seasonal depression, since most people associate it with winter, but that's not really a term apparently. But it happens like clockwork for me. Every June, I begin to feel more lethargic, apathetic, and depressed. I lose my appetite and often only eat one meal a day. My insomnia goes off the charts. The symptoms seem to start out pretty mild, and then get worse as the summer (and the heat!) progresses.
Maybe I'm a vampire. The sunlight doesn't make me feel happy and cheery like it does for most other people. I just want to close all the curtains and hide from the world. When people talk about what they'd do if they suddenly won the lottery, there's usually mention of a vacation to an exotic tropical island somewhere in there. Me? I'd buy a cozy, secluded cabin in the mountains. With a fireplace and lots of blankets and those giant coffee mugs that look like soup bowls. That sounds like heaven to me.
What is that even about? The cause of SAD is unknown, but scientists think that winter-onset SAD could be due to changes in levels of seratonin (affecting your mood) and melatonin (affecting your sleep patterns) in your body because of the reduced sunlight. Which makes total sense. But for summer-onset SAD, the theory is that it's due to increased stressors during the summer - the heat for people who are sensitive to it, and most especially a disruption of your routine.
That's definitely me. I'm a creature of habit. I tend to do the same things at the same times every day. And during the summertime, my schedule gets totally disrupted when the kids are out of school. T-ball, swimming lessons, peewee football - all require me having to leave the house in the heat and... be around people [gasp!]. Plus, if you have kids, especially boys, you know that they can get pretty restless being in the house all day. To say the least. So, we're often outside for hours at a time, much to my dismay.
But then I see their faces. Filled with glee from running around in the sunshine. Happy and soggy after an hour at the pool. Playing catch with their daddy. And I think - depression is for the birds. I can put up with anything when I have these two little people depending on me. Their happiness, at least for now, rests solely in my and my husband's hands. And I'll do anything to see those smiles.
Summertime sadness isn't just a song. It's real and it sucks. But the song of my babies' hearts - that's a tune I'll sing until my dying breath.