Posted by: joha5 | May 25, 2010

Seasonal Affective Disorder? Not in the Mood.

I don’t have a history of mental illness, depression, or any other kind of psychiatric issues (that I am aware of!).  I am an upbeat, happy-go-lucky, and generally affable person and I very rarely have off days.  Yet as I get older I notice that one seemingly innocuous thing has an increasing influence on my daily energy level and mood: the weather. 

I am not announcing on here that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or that I struggle with this consistently.  I just have begun to notice a fairly consistent correlation with my mood and the type of weather I experience every day.  One of the best things about living in London are the summers.  It never gets too hot and the sun sets around 10:30pm or so at the peak of the summer season.  I mean, when you get a good day in London in the summer I just could not imagine ever wanting to be in another city.  But the contrast from the summer to the winter season is absolutely brutal.  The winters are heavy and they are wet and they consume you like a cold wet blanket does.  The sun even begins to set at around 3:30 or 4pm in the afternoon.  I will tell you now that there is a huge difference between leaving work in the daylight and leaving work in the dark.  I don’t know if it is the lack of melatonin or serotonin or whatever but I think all of you can agree with me that being in a light, warm, and sunny climate makes you feel better than a cold, wet, and dark one does. 

Cloudy Old London

I use London as an example because it is extreme in some ways but in a lot of ways Washington, D.C. can be far worse.  There is a very noticeable demarcation of seasons that London does not have. While this can be great as you enter into the spring and summer, I find that winter comes down on my head like a guillotine from the French Revolution and the experience can be almost as painful.  One week the weather is warm and acceptable and all of a sudden we have a massive cold streak and before you know it we have snowfall and the winter seems to last into eternity (especially this previous one where three blizzards occurred and shattered snowfall records throughout the region).  Additionally, even in the summer, sometimes it is so sticky and hot and humid that it just really isn’t even nice to be outside. 

Snowy Old D.C.

Today contains none of these extremes from either continent, however.  Washington, D.C. today is warm and decent outside but it is very dark and cloudy.  You would think that the warmth would cancel out the darkness for me – and sometimes it does.  But today I keep looking outside and I am finding doing any work or reading or job applications or networking extremely laborious today.  Then again, this could just be because doing work, job applications, or networking is an extremely boring and tedious process – which it is.  On the contrary, if it was a beautiful day outside and the sun was shining and birds were singing and all was right in the world, I would still probably be sitting inside doing more of the same kind of work and being even more miserable because I wouldn’t actually be out enjoying the day. 

So really, it is all a lose-lose situation in as far as work, weather, and enjoyment goes.  I’m damned if it’s nice outside and I’m damned if it’s awful outside.  If it’s cold outside then I am forced to work inside but if it is nice outside, I am still forced to work inside.  Maybe I have SAD and maybe I don’t and maybe weather really does affect my mood on a daily basis or maybe it doesn’t.  Whatever the case may be, just thinking about the origin of my mood today and why I feel so unmotivated is driving me absolutely mad.  Maybe I should spend more time focusing on work and just pushing through these mood swings rather than actually analyzing them?  Eh.  I don’t really feel like it.  I’m not in the mood.

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Responses

  1. Here in the Philippines, it is always hot, especially this summer. Sweltering. And after the summer, is just a wet version of summer. Still hot, but raining on most days.

    I always wanted to feel the 4 seasons, since the coldest place I’ve gone to is Macau in January (did the bungy at 12 degrees). But year round beach trips is something I won’t part with, even if sometimes, the rain dampens things a bit.

    • Just the idea of being able to go to the beach year round is AMAZING to me. I have to drive 2-3 hours to get to the beach from here in Washington, D.C. which isn’t really a bad drive at all but I certainly can’t walk down the street and be at the beach when I want to be. There is something quite nice about having 4 very distinct seasons. But they never seem to last long enough and before you know it another season is upon you and you won’t get it again for another year. Ugh!

  2. I wanna trade with you. I love snow but have only experienced it once. I would love to experience seasons as well and I will risk the mood swings ;-p

    • I can never quite get mt head around the fact that not everybody really experiences seasons like we do here on most of the east coast of the United States. Even my friends in California don’t really experience seasonal change that much. In some ways we are really lucky to have the leaves change color in the autumn and the beautiful growth in the spring, the heat in the summer and the snow in the winter. Do you ever get bored of being in a warm climate all the time or do you just love it?!

  3. I’m from the DC area, and I’m totally missing that snowy DC today in your picture. It’s 90 degrees and I’m stuck in a building with no AC.

    • Hey Angie! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Ironically, I was traveling on the west coast when the blizzard happened in DC earlier this year. It was only supposed to be a 4 day trip to Las Vegas but it ended up being a 3 week trip because I couldn’t get home! So I spent the entire blizzard in Vegas, LA, and San Francisco. Worse things could have happened! Where are you right now that it is 90 degrees?! Sounds awful!!


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