I have a mental illness. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, which is the best (or worst?) acronym ever. Like Supergirl or Superman, I get my powers from the Earth’s yellow sun. But in September, when the days get shorter and the sun becomes more oblique, I lose my powers, just as if Supergirl were back on Krypton. I lose my ability to sleep through the night, I lose my power of motivation, and I lose my patience. In other words, I get restless, irritable, and slothful.
People with SAD can use medication or light therapy (or both) to treat the symptoms. Light therapy is buying a really bright light and sitting in front of it daily for a certain amount of time. My “prescription” is 20 minutes of bright light in the morning and in the early evening. You can buy a light box, also known as a sun lamp, online from any number of sources.You cannot, however, get the same effect from sitting in front of a lamp with a high wattage bulb. You also cannot get the same effect by just going outside more in the winter, because the oblique angle of the sun means that winter light is less intense than summer light.
This spring has been especially difficult for me. While many people with SAD are most affected by fall, I find spring the be the worst season. I hate spring, I hate the month of March, I hate all the weather between January snows and May 80 degree days.
And I know that I “shouldn’t” use the word hate. I know I ought to use gratitude and acceptance to deal with the variables of spring weather, but this spring pushed me over the edge. It was a constant barrage of cold weather and cold rain and gray dull days. Then we had snow storms in March. Then it just stayed cold and wet and dull all through April, with freezes as late as April 20, which is VERY late for Raleigh, NC.
This past week has been different though. It has finally warmed up. The sun has been shining. And I’ve been able to sit outside and breathe fresh air for several consecutive days. I’m regaining my superpowers. And I finally feel like myself again. The world lays in front of me, a buffet of projects and opportunities and fun things to do. Weeding my gardens, planting flowers that will probably either die or get eaten by the wild bunnies in my yard, going on picnics and walks with my family, taking Sunday naps in my hammock, sweating poolside with friends, squinting at my computer screen while sitting outside a coffee shop, listening to birds greet the morning sun, watching fireflies ascend with the moon, all these things beckon to me. Even the ordinary tasks of life are easier: laundry, tidying up, cooking, meal planning, grocery shopping, brushing teeth: it’s all better when it’s warm outside.
It's later than normal, but I am Supergirl once again.