“Now is the winter of our discontent…” – William Shakespeare.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is not (as I thought) just being fed up with Winter. It’s an actual thing, associated with clinical depressive disorders and described by the Mayo Clinic as a feeling of moodiness and a sapping of energy.
Could there be other associated sypmtoms? Such as fantasizing about running away to the Seychelles and changing your name? Or catching yourself about to spend the grocery money on designer gumboots and bee pollen wrinkle cream? Or having absolutely no patience with the children because your feet are cold and there are mice in the tea-towel drawer and there’s no one to blame? Or vaguely wishing your cold would turn into pneumonia just severe enough to warrant a week in a warm hospital room with meals provided? Could these things be a product of SAD? Or are they caused by something else entirely, something called Grumpy Old Mole (GOM)?
There are a few theories as to what causes SAD. Lack of serotonin is one possible cause, as is too much melatonin, which is related to a lack of light. Interestingly, hibernation is thought to be an extreme form of SAD, directly related to a reduction in energy and light. I could add a few other possible reasons to hibernate – splinters from firewood, children losing expensive woollen jumpers, ice on windscreens, running out of porridge, mud on the carpet, hairy legs…I could go on.
Sometimes you get so grumpy you have to stomp about doing lots of martyred cleaning and scrubbing of baths etc. This is when seasonal affective disorder becomes seasonal effective disorder.
There are, of course, a few things that provide temporary relief from SAD: – snow capped mountains, open fires, ugg boots, soup, sleep, a new hair-do… but they tend to wear off quicker than your new cardie gets bobbly.
There is reportedly a Summer version of SAD (and GOM), which is characterised by increased levels of anxiety. Here in Australia it could well be caused by a widely known anxiety-raising event commonly called Bloody Christmas. ‘Bloody Christmas’ is when the children are involved in all sorts of concerts, people want things, baking is called for (involving those tiny annoying silver balls you use as decoration – what are they called again? Oh yes cachous for fuck’s sake), parties are jammed in together and you haven’t had a minute to get your hairy lip sorted. I can feel it looming even now. But of course in August it’s very inappropriate to be throwing the C word about, so I’ll stop that thought there.
September is when we’re allowed to get the tinsel out, said no one but Woollies and Coles. For fuck’s sake.
August is a fickle old thing in Tasmania; playing with one’s hopes. Blossom and frost, daffs and gloves, bleak and birdsong, sleet and lambs. Sudden sweaty moments amid layers of woollens.
Outside, right now (I just went out there to take the dog for his wee) there’s not a breath of wind. It’s cold but not characteristically wintry. Or springy actually. Spring in Tasmania blows tits off. I stood out there just now for quite a while and it was as still as still. Otherwordly. As still as Ferdinand Marcos. Oh wait, he’s about to move.
On a brighter note, don’t forget that the Shakespeare quote has an ending, “…made glorious summer by this son of York”, which perfectly clears up the discontent in winter thing. What’s your son of York? A holiday to the tropics? The blossom on your trees? The beach and a good book? A good old leg wax? Springtime? Keep it in your sights, it’s just around the corner.
*Please refer to more credible sources if you are concerned about SAD symptoms. And if you are feeling depressed, you can call Lifeline on 131114.