Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thinking "Summer"....

It has been one of the longest winters in my memory. I know that the calendar indicates that it is Spring, but here in the Midwest we have been mired in cold, miserable, rainy/snowy/icy, cloudy, and dreary weather since November. It is truly a mark of how awful it has been when people visibly perk up after hearing a forecast of "Sunny and 45 degrees".

So, I have been trying to fool myself into thinking that Spring has sprung with a few different "tricks":
- when the sun does make an appearance, I sit in the sunniest place in the house and absorb
as much vitamin D as I can.
- buy potted Spring flowering plants which are highly aromatic (i.e. hyacinths, Easter lilies)
- wear shorts and capris around the house.
- grill Spring/Summer-type foods, such as shish-kekabs, as much as possible.
- plan my vegetable garden
- try to relish the earlier sunrises and later sunsets
- welcome the sounds of early birds chirping at ungodly hours
- buy the kids' swimsuits

Has it worked? Is my brain moved over into "warm weather mode"?
Um, partially....

I am pretty excited about my summer veggie garden and even have plans for canning and preserving all the produce I will grow. And, the house sure does smell fresh and pretty with all the spring flowers I have purchased.

However, the days of sun have been few and far between, so it's been hard to convince my brain to produce more serotonin, thereby improving my mood. And, while I enjoy eating dinner while it is still daylight, I am not a morning person, so the earlier sunrises are really lost on me.

For the last three years, Spring has become a very difficult time of year for me. Early Spring of 2006 is when our baby girl passed away, so instead of the sights and smells heralding new life, they are fraught with sorrow. This latest Spring has been the worst, and it took me completely by surprise. Maybe it was because my youngest (the baby that was born after we lost our daughter) is a big toddler now, and I don't have a little baby to absorb some of my attention. Maybe it's because I'm not pregnant, and I don't have that event to look forward to in the near future. Both of these things were very much present the last two anniversaries of our daughter's death. But, I think the continuing dreary weather is playing a huge role in my almost-constant battle with the blues this Spring.

In fact, in the last few days the sun has been more visible and I already feel more positive; more like my old self. (Of course, my old self would have never have admitted to feeling depressed!) It has really caused me to think about how the weather affects us emotionally. Most of us have heard of people who have been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and how they fare much worse in colder, darker climates; depression, anger, and, even suicide are the hallmarks of this disorder. Forms of light-therapy seem to improve the symptoms associated with SAD, and I am beginning to understand (on a much smaller scale) how people with the disorder must feel. They are literally prisoners of the weather!

Weather and climate affect us all physically and emotionally, and there is nothing we can do to change the weather. Oh sure, maybe some of us can move to better climates or try different forms of therapy to combat the effects of weather. But, overall, weather is everywhere, it's inescapable.

For now, I'm trying to roll with the punches and enjoy each day as it comes. Prayer is a constant companion for me, and my husband has been beyond supportive and understanding during this Spring. I am also trying to force myself to smile more, because I have noticed that even a forced smile soon becomes a real smile, and my mood improves! My kids also provide endless opportunities for me to experience laughter and gratefulness; I knew there was a reason I kept those kids around!

As for the weather, well, it's bound to improve at some point. Of course, when that first 90 degree temperature hits, I am sure to complain about that kind of weather, too!!

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