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.
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.
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.
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 Liev’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.