Monday, December 30, 2013

Summer Depression

Note: While this post is not exactly timely, it has been on my mind to share with the hopes that others who experience the same thing will take heart.

We live in a place that lives for summer.

As I talked about in my prior post about the coming rains, the weather permits about five months of outdoor joy with amazing sunshine and beauty abounding, and seven months of chilly rain, which can be equally as beautiful, if a bit monotonous.

So here's the rub. I have come to admit to something that has plagued me all my live. I suffer from SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder. Now, this is self-diagnosed, but after this past summer, and every summer for the last 30 years, I think I can safely say that it is an accurate diagnosis. Interestingly, a few minutes researching SAD reveals that it is a winter issue for 99% of the suffering population. For the remaining 1%, it hits in the summer. And that's my world.

This summer was the worst ever. I had anticipated that the depression would be less severe here, because I've always thought it was related as much to heat as to light. Incorrect assumption. So regardless of the cooler temperatures and peaceful surroundings, this summer was the worst yet.

Taking it apart piece by piece, I find varied factors. Just ask my husband, I DO get grumpy when I get hot. Solution? Stay cool? Check.

What about light? There's more of it here in the summer than when we lived in Colorado. The sun rises at 4am and dark finally settles in around 11pm. 5 hours of darkness means sleeping while it is still light. But I'm not sleepy. Solution? Draw the blinds and pretend it is dark. Effectiveness? Zero.

Which leads to the next item. Sleep deprivation. But it isn't like having a new baby or a stressful job. There's nothing to think about or do. My mind isn't racing nor is the workload more than I can physically or emotionally handle. Those long sleepless nights seem to be filled with ... Nothing. Solution? Do something! Projects! Goals! But I'm sleep deprived, so I can't think. Also not effective.

Finally there's the lack of structure in the summer. We took a break from school things this summer, and those were the longest periods of darkness in my spirit. Solution? Shorter breaks at other times during the year. We'll have to try that next year. But we want to have time for all that summer fun.

Oh, there's one more. Busyness. It seems our family, along with many others I'm sure, gets into go-go-go mode every summer. Enjoy every minute of those long days. Soak up all the sun you can. Get as much time outside as possible. Go! Go! Go! In the midst of it all, sleep deprived and exhausted, I just want to get off. To jump. To run. Not in the suicidal sense, but in the I-think-I'll-just-go-to-the-back-of-the-house-and-lock-the-door-and-pretend-like-the-world-doesn't-exist-until-it-is-fall sense.

Solution? It isn't in me to find a solution. I'm neither wise enough nor insightful enough in the moments to solve this grand issue of summer. But I know one who is. This past summer was about entangling my hands in the mane of the Lion of Judah and holding on for dear life.  He was faithful and true, holding me up and caring for me in my brokenness every step of the way. Here I am, in December. I survived. Although the sky has become cloudy and the rains have begun, the light and warmth of my King glows in my soul ... Darkness no more.

Next summer, it will probably return. My annual reminder that I am weak and only His strength will see me through. I will not get off. I will not jump. I will not run. I will cling. And cling. And cling some more. Until the sun goes down and my heart sings again.

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