Summer Onset Depression

June Depression

I am part of the less than 1% of the population affected by “reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder” or summer onset depression.  I find summer days insufferably long and empty.

Doctors can’t identify what causes reverse SAD, but theorize that heat and extended sunlight hours are likely causes.  I am a native New Mexican and veteran of months of 100+ degree weather.  I attribute my troubles more to humidity than heat.  Most of all, I blame long summer days.

In New Mexico, my June Blues resembled a lasting case of the blahs. School was over, so I rented movies by the armful.  Watching movies and reading books for six weeks seemed like an awesome way to spend half the summer. Besides, the snakes were too active for rock collecting or desert adventures.

White Night 2

I experienced my first unmistakable summer depression in Russia. I assumed my new marriage, new country and new language overwhelmed and exhausted me.  The contribution of heat and unremitting sunlight were unconsidered factors.

On my honeymoon, I collapsed.  The air was crisp and fresh as Egor and I sailed north of Saint Petersburg to picturesque Vaalam .  Daylight glowed incessantly. Surrounded by pastoral riverfronts and whimsical Karelian cottages, I should have explored miles of coastline.

Instead, the white nights stupefied me. The sun scraped the horizon, casting the land in a hazy twilight.  Like an over-exposed Polaroid, the world was bleary, bleached, and glazed with an unnatural film.

Disoriented, I slept for most of the next two days. I assumed some mysterious northern illness incapacitated me, when actually the culprits were depression and sensory sensitivity.

One of our white nights.

After two blinding summers in Moscow, Egor and I moved back to New Mexico. I welcomed the darker, longer summer nights.  My seasonal doldrums persisted, overlooked.

Moving to New Hampshire, my June Blues emerged conspicuously.  Although our visible light lingers only 90 minutes more than in New Mexico, some sensitive neurological pathway is disturbed.

June’s eight p.m. sun feels like an unsavory protuberant eye, leering at me with wild diurnal thoughts. This gaze is as disconcerting as a nude stroll in a crowded, but hushed stadium.  So, I climb into bed, toss a black sheet over my head and watch movies on the laptop.

My blog, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter have fallen silent. I have not finished reading my dear friend’s novel.  A weekly shower is a major goal.

June Blues 2

This is not a pity party, however. Despite the electronic vanishing act, I manage my family responsibilities with aplomb.  I shop, clean, cook and vacuum.  I water colored twelve thank you cards for Tyoma’s awesome treatment team.  I even put up bookshelves!

Solstice means the June Blues will be behind me.  I await you, August Idylls!

ETA: This is a revision of an older post. I still feel the blahs, but daily schedules have helped me stay organized and busy, thus more cheerful. Heat and light can impact many on the autism spectrum, especially those with co-occurring Tourette’s  syndrome (heat exacerbates tics). Help yourself and autistic loved ones by boosting structure (schedules) and encouraging the pursuit of special interests.

22 thoughts on “Summer Onset Depression

  1. Ugh, this, so much this. Starting to worry that I’ve developed something similar, although it presents much more like anxiety/phobia than depression. I’m ridiculously sensitive to heat and humidity, then I end up constantly overloaded and drained, then I start Avoiding The Thing At All Costs (I am the only person I know that will willingly cross minor roads if the shade’s on the other side :P), then I feel really pathetic and shit because it’s only June and I’m only in England and it’s Not That Bad and I’m over-reacting I shouldn’t have to psyche myself up to go to the Tesco down the road and it’s only going to get worse, then I feel guilty about it, then I realise I can’t “get out of it” and feel trapped and end up constantly worrying about how much fucking worse it’s going to get. (Okay, that was far too long a sentence…) I also find that I don’t sleep very well, which is sometimes just a matter of being too hot but a lot of the time is for seemingly no reason, apart from the fact that it coincidentally happens every time it gets warm, which really doesn’t help the whole lack-of-energy-and-capacity-for-further-sensory-input thing. Oh, and I panic almost equally at the very idea of *other people* being too warm, which is a bit weird. I’m not really bothered much by sunlight, though, other than that a.) it’s hot and b.) it LOOKS hot when I look out the window (which I can’t close because panic, although I’ve also got a weird-vaguely-related thing about suffocation so it’s probably that) so this is really interesting.

    Sorry for the long comment – it’s hot, I’m panicking and this post showed up!

    1. Dear Feminist Aspie,

      Please forgive my long absence, it has been a long and hard few months. ❤ (Ill elderly parents)

      I completely relate to how you feel during the summer, the heat prickles some mental valve that makes existence insufferable. The worst part is the humidity, it's a soggy wet mental blanket that smothers all the good feelings you try to generate.

      I hope you are doing better now. I appreciate you visiting with me and reblogging my post. May your fall be long and cool. And you are welcome to comments as long as you please! I enjoy hearing from you! 🙂

      Lori D.

  2. Summer brings more. No chance of processing. I loved Alaska in the winter! Though I do suffer with eyes. I think my cones and rods are reversed as light is way too much and I have excellent night vision. My prescription glasses only allow 15 % of light in. ; )

  3. I hope the rest of your June passes quickly. When I lived in NM, I found June to be the worst month. Something about the intense dry heat before the monsoons came in July just wore me down. Back on the east coast, it’s March that does me in now, with it’s never ending damp cold. I dread it and spend the whole month wanting to hide in bed.

    1. Thank you for the validation!Sometimes I feel as if I am the only one who crashes during the summer months. I appreciate your comment and understanding. 🙂


    1. Dear friend,

      Thank you so much for the honor. I am recovering from my latest trip to NM and legal issues for my mom. She is doing much better. You brighten my life with your enthusiasm, cheer, and compassion. Thank you for thinking of me. ❤

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by. My summer was long and complicated, but my fall has become cheerier knowing I am in good company!

      Enjoy the mild weather!
      Lori D.

  4. Thank you so much for this post! Did not know there was a name for it. SOD … Filed in long-term memory. For several years now I have to increase the dosage of my anti-anxiety meds in May, maybe June, to go down again in August. Another one of my quirks just fell into place 🙂

    1. I am so happy to hear this solved something for you. I’ve had many miserable summers and I feel so grateful to the scientists and doctors who listen to their clients and do research so we can all feel a little less alone! Thank you for visiting with me!

      Lori D.

  5. I think I share this! OR it may have been trying to work and write and prepare to teach with two high needs kids at home full time. in any case …fall? Shall we hear from quiet week soon?

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