Every year around this time, I seem to take a nose dive into the abyss of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I am uncertain how many years I have suffered, but I became acutely aware a few years ago. During my first recognized bout, I decided that I no longer could visit the grocery store for my weekly supplies. Before I even noticed I had a problem, I found myself in the local store parking lot lacking the will to get out of my car and walk through the doors into the chilled arena. I sat in my car for an unspecified amount of time, losing the battle, driving home with an empty car and eventually empty stomach.
Knowing that my daughter had to eat and fearing child protective services knocking on my door, I resorted to ordering all my groceries online and had them delivered. The amount of time selecting each individual item from the list on the website most likely took me much longer than driving to the store and doing it myself. The more frequently I placed orders, the easier it became. The website remembered my order from week to week. When my groceries were delivered, I felt judged by the person who dropped off my goods after the realization I was not elderly.
As I unpacked the items, I always would remember the one item I forgot. All orders had to be over $50.00, so I would do without until next week. That year was the winter of delivery. When the sun returned in March, I was able to get in my car, drive to the store, and walk through the doors without a second thought.
I know this will happen every year, but I feel there is little I can do to change the months of darkness that I tend to wade through. Each season tends to bring about different nuances of this abjection. Luckily, in the last few years, grocery shopping has not been affected. Surprisingly, I don’t stay in bed or miss work, and I keep up on my running and the gym .
Last year, during my long runs I had to change my running course for those 3 months. I had an overwhelming urge to jump from one (or maybe two) of the bridges. I knew I would not take the plunge. I didn’t classify myself as suicidal, but just incredible curious about the water below. Perhaps I wanted to see if I could beat the 50/50/50 rule. The rule says that a 50 year old has a 50% chance of surviving 50 minutes in 50 degree water. I figured I was close enough to the 50 year old mark to give it a go.
Interestingly, researchers have found the urge to jump off a bridge or veer off a mountain side cliff is surprisingly common. A not so recent study found that this urge to jump occurs in both people who report to having suicidal thoughts and people who have never shown this self destructive urge. This is referred to as the “high place phenomenon.” Every time I am up high, I want to plunge to the floor below. It is terribly freaky to have the impulse to do this every single time I am up high.
I describe it more like a Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that makes me feel obsessed with plummeting. There are many theories regarding why this happens, but they are exhausting to list as they might only partly apply. However, since all I could think about while running across the bridges was to leap over the side, I decided to not temp fate and stay on one side of the river. When the light returned in the Spring, I could then resume my runs across the beautiful bridges without the overwhelming thought of hurdling over the side.
Unfortunately, this lovely season is upon me once again and I feel the effects. I am still grocery shopping and I am running across the bridges, at the present. However, this seasonal affliction tends to make me look up at the universe and challenge it to maybe smite me. Or I have the urge to lay in my front yard, cover myself with the falling leaves, and become one with the earth. However, all the while I am conflicted with the need to start Thanksgiving prep, Christmas shopping,decorating, and then attempting to ring in the New Year with some sort of positive attitude. Thinking, at the same time, each winter is just one big disastrous ground hog day where I always see my shadow causing me to white knuckle through weeks of complete feculence.
I am doing my best to cope at the moment. I oscillate between half-assing and not giving a shit to wanting to wrestle someone. My chosen sparing partner can be willing or unwilling. I’m not picky. I believe I have three months until my light will come back on. I am only half terrified of what will transpire between now and then. My other half, that is not terrified, doesn’t care about such things. This is the half that has the urge to poke a sleeping bear or try to start or break up a drunken bar fight, depending on the night and the bar. I should be on the hunt for vitamin D and a SAD therapy lamp, but I’m not. However, if you happen to have one or both those items, I’ll wrestle you for it.