We’re currently mired in the midst of dark, winter days here in the northern portions of the northern hemisphere. Days with little daylight are rough. I’ve written previously about my annual struggle with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It starts hurting somewhere in mid-September, though it really ramps up after the time change in early November. Specifically, from the time change through the next three weeks or so until Thanksgiving. Then, the Holidays are in full swing and I’m excited about Christmas so the ache eases a bit.
I was SO THANKFUL, several years ago, when they changed the date clocks fall back to the first Sunday in November instead of the last in October (yes, that week MATTERS). It meant staving off the worst of the SAD ache for a few more weeks.
Then, after the Holidays, I start struggling again. The weather is crappy, the sun is still setting well before 5:00 pm, and most of the sparkling, Christmas lights are gone from neighborhood windows, so they no longer offer their break from the seemingly, endless darkness.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) hurts!
Individual people experience varying degrees of severity and symptoms with this disorder. For me, they’re mostly classified by irritability, emotional sensitivity (I burst into tears easily), the desire to lash out at those around me for daring to engage in the most ghastly of behaviors (such as chewing or swallowing loudly) 🤯 or…loud breathing (must people do it CONSTANTLY?! 😉)
For me it isn’t so much a sense of hopelessness or of impending doom, it feels more like incessant PMS (this descriptor won’t be much help to the members of my audience with a Y chromosome). 😂 I just don’t feel good! I want to curl up in sweatpants, in the dark, and eat a pound of Doritos with a two-pound bar of Hershey’s, Special Edition, Dark Chocolate as a chaser…and wash it all down with a Big Gulp of Cherry Coke!
I’m a midwestern girl so, naturally, I think all emotional pain should be solved with food, preferably something of the casserole variety (with main ingredients of cheese, potatoes, or cream of mushroom soup)! 🤤
*I don’t mean to make light of this–admittedly difficult–condition. I just try not to take myself too seriously. A little good-natured jesting helps me to keep things in perspective. Plus they claim it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, and I’m lazy so…😉*
Embrace the dark of winter
In the other post I wrote, regarding my disorder, I discuss ways I try to mitigate the “ouch factor” by embracing the darkness. In that post, I encourage people to seek out the peace and tranquility present in sizable amounts of dark hours, such as the peace that settles over the chilly nights when stars speckle across the dark blanket of sky that drapes across you.
The Trekkers are fortunate to live in an area of (fairly minimal) light pollution–we can actually see the Milky Way from our backyard on clear nights! This is even more true if we head out of town to the true darkness the Black Hills proffers.
You never know what you’ll observe when enjoying the quiet peace of the dark evening. Owls hooting in the distance, a shooting star, the lost Dominos driver cruising past your house multiple times searching for the correct address…😂 Also, I’ve learned, Mother Nature provides natural refrigeration for your wine if you are outside on those colds nights! 😁
Rushing the holidays increases stress
During the fall months, when my SAD is usually at its worst, I find the rush to Christmas also increases my stress.
Now, don’t get me wrong folks, I’m no Grinch, I LOVE Christmas. There are no “bah humbugs!” coming from the Trekker household! Mr. Trekker’s ears are usually bleeding from the excess of Christmas music by January 1st. 😂 I LOVE the sparkling decorations; the music and movies (here’s looking at you Clark Griswald!); the food, the parties, and the time spent with family. I even LOVE the snow (if you’re actually lucky enough to have a white Christmas these days! 😝)
I just think there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Since when does Christmas start in October? There is a whole other holiday between that month and “the Jolly Old Elf” people! 😜 November is still Fall! Leaves are still falling, the deer haven’t finished gorging on the pumpkins on our front stoop yet. As Sally from Charlie Brown would say, “I haven’t even finished all my Halloween candy!” Then there’s all the stress and commercialization of the Holidays…
Why are we always in such a hurry to rush through life? Why can’t we learn to take each day, week, month (and holiday!) as it comes? There is a lot of busyness and stress that comes with the Holiday Season. Can we have a little time to ramp up to it? And seriously ya’ll, do we really want to rush to the dull, dark days of January?! REALLY?!
STOP RUSHING ME!!! 😜 (Straight No Chaser does a GREAT song about this, by the way! 😂)
Days with little daylight
I don’t know about where the rest of you live, but in western South Dakota, it’s DARK dark by 5:30 for three months of the year, and during the darkest times the sun is down by 4:30. 😜 (If anyone is reading this post in even more extreme latitudes, you have my MOST SINCERE sympathy). BUT, at least for some of that time, it is starting to get light by 6 am. That makes dragging my sorry butt out of bed a little easier!
The good news is, once you reach the time change in early November, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. While those short days SUCK!, it means the countdown has started. Just a few, short weeks later–not till the day AFTER Thanksgiving!–the sparkling lights and festive music of the Christmas Season arrive in earnest to raise spirits.
Then, once the Holiday Season is over, January’s dark days come (though they are getting a little shorter!) Then finally it’s on to February and the sun starts staying up past 5! (My mood usually starts to improve again when we return to more normal daylight lengths.) So, until then, get outside as much as you can (or at least sit by a window and enjoy some sun and daylight whenever possible) and don’t forget the Vitamin D3!
I’m also a fan of fun movies, this is when you pull out the good stuff. My personal favorites are those with car chases or anything that makes me laugh (they say it’s the best medicine!) There is absolutely nothing wrong with 12-hour Star Wars or Netflix marathons on cold, dreary days (just open the curtains so you get some daylight!) 🌞
I’ll just be hunkering down here the next few weeks with my temporary best friends, dreaming of bright sunshine! A little “woosah!” doesn’t hurt either (and if you haven’t seen Bad Boys 2, I strongly recommend it for a little distraction during these dark days!)
Heads up ya’ll, the countdown to daylight has begun!
How do you cope during the darkest days of the year? Tell me about it in the comments!
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