halfway through the afternoon, apropos of nothing at all, i felt my spirits lift. while i was sitting at my desk dutifully answering emails, something ... lightened. i paused mid-mail, startled. you couldn't call this feeling happiness, exactly, but it was the spiritual equivalent of switching a carry-on bag from one hand to the other.
of course, it wasn't apropos of nothing at all. at the exact moment i felt my spirits lighten, there was a thinning of the clouds such that you could believe that the sky, behind the dismal grey, really was blue. this isn't something i was aware of seeing. i was staring at my computer; i felt this strange sensation of lightening; and when i looked out the window i saw that, literally, the sky was lighter.
it only lasted for a moment, but it made me understand, for real, that i am suffering from seasonal affective disorder.
in one way, it's my own fault, the wages of never really believing in SAD. c'mon, i think, it's winter: of course you feel down. 'tis the season ... for hibernating. winter is why god invented hot tea, bourbon, cashmere. the idea is to get out into it - run, ski, skate, walk! - then come indoors for hot chocolate next to the fireplace. don't wish winter away; take it for what it is. love january for its long yellow light and blue sky against white, for the hissing sound of snow on leafless trees and ice fog on the river. that crispness you feel, that sting in your fingers, is how you know your urbanized body is still, somehow, natural. winter is for reading long novels. winter is for cooking with cinnamon. winter is for rallying.
this year i'm all out of rally.
what makes me think this is fullblown SAD? first, there's the bitchiness. at least, i think that's what you call picking approximately 473 fights since december 21st. then there's the sleep disorder. i head to bed early, unable to stay awake, only to lie in bed for hours, unable to fall asleep. exhibit three: migraines, at the rate of 2-3/week. i think a synomym for that is 'serotonin deficiency.' another symptom: i can't concentrate on anything, every day is an endless agony, yet i am obsessed by how many minutes of daylight we are (not) getting. i bought three iPhone apps for this, every one of which, worryingly, calculates sunrise and sunset differently. as for listlessness: yeah, i guess so. budget crisis: whatever. promotion: who cares. prorogued parliament: i'll post the protest on facebook but there never was a chance i'd go. my boss could come to work wearing socks and crocs and i wouldn't give a damn.
still, you can find most of that filed under winter blues. however, even i cannot make myself believe that normal people cry all winter long. it used to be daily, but lately i find myself crying more or less every waking hour, for no reason. i cry while i brush my teeth in the morning; i cry on the way to work; i turn around twice in my office and have to scrounge for the kleenex. i look out the window and cry; i don't look out the window and cry. could i paint a more pathetic picture?
i am doing everything the books say to do. i am exercising as much as i can, which is to say as much as i can force myself to do it. i am keeping regular hours. i am eating whole grains and spinach, taking vitamin D. i see people: resisting the sofa's lures, i go to dinner parties, watch plays, attend evening meetings. today i spent an hour at the muttart conservatory (mo's idea, for the record, not scott mckeen's!), just so i could see green things. it all helps, though never for very long. i was ok in the muttart, but i burst into tears again in the parking lot.
diagnosing yourself with a named disorder makes you feel at once more and less crazy. although i cry all the time, i don't actually feel sad; the emotion i feel is not what you would call unhappiness. what i feel is ... well, it's not really a feeling exactly, more like the absence of a feeling, unless you count bewilderment as an emotion. i feel lost in an endless grey, befuddled by the lack of (emotional) bearings. in this sense, i cry like a baby. disoriented, i grope around for precedent. do i always feel like this in winter? are all winters this bad? if this one is worse, why? how can it be, after two weeks in mexico? can i blame genetics? chemicals? environment? am i at some sort of age-related watershed - must i fashion a new, more equatorial, life?
or maybe i just need some fucking sun. in the name of all things holy, is that really too much to ask?