Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Here Comes the Sun

Today in Bavaria, the sun is shining. The snow glistens like diamonds where the warm rays kiss the ground. Yes, this is my favorite kind of winter day – beautiful snow and sunshine.

I used to take sunshine for granted, especially living in Texas. There was certainly no shortage of it there. In fact, sometimes you wished for some cloud cover. But here in Germany, I have a new appreciation of the sun. Most winter days are cloudy, overcast and dreary. Much like the Pacific Northwest, I'm told. I've never been there so I can't say for certain. A conversation at work yesterday and the appearance of the sun today has prompted me to think about SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This disorder is a type of depression that happens the same time every year. For most people, that is usually fall through winter though some experience this depression in spring or early summer. Some of the symptoms include depression, anxiety, loss of energy, social withdrawal, and difficulty concentrating among others. I point these particular symptoms out because I realized that I've been experiencing them. I'm not saying I have SAD, but I don't think some extra sunlight would go amiss. And I'll pay more attention to what I'm feeling now that I'm aware of the symptoms. If you think you might suffer from this depression, please seek professional help.

So, I'm going to take advantage of the sun as much as possible today because it could be weeks before I see it again.

Does the lack of sunshine affect you? Care to share?


Fae said...

My best friend/roommate has winter SAD. With her work hours and commute she leaves when it's dark and comes home when it's dark again, so the lack of sunshine really wears her out in the winter. It's much better once the days get longer.

Of course, I have the opposite, summertime is when it hits me. I'd be perfectly happy with constant clouds and cool temps. I avoid going out in the summer as much as possible because it just drains me incredibly, the heat and the brightness. I hate it.

Of course, it might be partly because I spent the first 27 years of my life living in southern Arizona and now despise heat and sunshine because that's *all* there is in Southern AZ, lol.

Ms Menozzi said...

I'm with Fae, then. When I was a kid, I used to love the summer heat and sunlight - it meant I could go to the pool and play all day long (no school was a big plus, too, of course).

As I got older, I found the heat and the sun drained me of all my energy, both mental and physical. I longed for the extended hours of darkness and cold which come with Autumn and Winter. Those are still my most creative seasons, too.

Granted, there's a period around New Year's which always leaves me melancholy, but that passes soon enough and I can get back to work. Usually. This year has been a bad one, unfortunately.

The temperatures are warming here - only slightly - but I still feel a dread in the pit of my stomach at the thought of working in the spring warmth.

Oh, well. We cope as best we can, I suppose. I'd love to have some snow and sunshine, or snow and cloudy days - heck, just some snow in general would be lovely! LOL! :)

salamanderstales said...

I do miss the sunshine of summer...and I say this as I look at two feet of snow on the ground, with more expected! :-S

I think that it wouldn't be so much of an issue if I didn't go to work at the day job in the dark, and come home in the dark. It can be several days before I actually see any sun.

Last year, I splurged on a broad-spectrum lamp for my desk. I think it helps, while I'm waiting for the days to get longer.

Anonymous said...

Hi Riley! Glad you've got a spot of sunshine! So far, knock wood, I've not suffered from SAD, but my Mom is a definite sufferer. She hates cloudy days, especially rainy, cloudy ones. The only thing that gets her through, I think, is that she has a semi-solar home and the southern exposure is floor to ceiling (2 stories) of windows. Broad-spectrum lights and lots of Vitamin D should help. For myself, the day job keeps me inside, so weather and sunlight are just vague concepts. On the week-ends, I look forward to rainy days as an excuse to curl up with a good book and VEG! Sunshine means I need to get my butt outside and doing something! Denise Golinowski

Riley Quinn said...

Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I think it helps to know you're not the only one.

Rachel Lynne said...

Oh boy Riley, I'm a believer in SAD. I grew up in cloudy Northeast Ohio. The lake effect gave us very few sunny days. It was dreary and depressing. Living in Ga has made me appreciate the sun and its effects on the mind and body (don't forget Vitamin D!) Allman Brothers were right about Georgia's "Blue Skies" :)

Mary Ricksen said...

I do know that we all need sunshine to allow us to use vitamin D in our bodies. Try to get some sun if you want to stay healthy.
I've known that for years and always would go out on a sunny day. My sister had special lights in her house to sit in front of every day. She had it bad in Washington state, when she lived there.

GPS said...

I was just complaining to a friend yesterday how depressed I am with this winter weather. The cold, snow, dark - it's getting old. I am so ready for spring!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Sigh, I love Bavaria--so pretty an area. Oh, but I digress. While my youngest daughter and I thrive in foggy, misty, snowy, dreary (to some)days, my eldest daughter has SAD and dreads cloudy days. My mom suffered from it, too. The special lights help alter the depression.

Felicia Holt said...

Living in a place where we had (if I remember correctly) two hours of sun in December last year (and I think it was all in one day) and where the sun sets right after 2 pm for a month around Christmas (and rises after 9 am), I know what you mean. This is why we're obsessed with the sun here.
I'm personally like Fae, not much of a summer person, but I hate the darkness too - sometimes it feels like it's suffocating me. September and April are probably my favorite times of the year, at least if there's no snow in April...
Actually, getting snow in the winter is one of the things that help with my tendency for SAD. It makes a world of difference because it reflects the light. It really helps.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Riley,
That is so interesting, I was only recently diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency and my dcotor said to me go out in the sun more. On the other hand I have had a skin cancer removed from my face ahd shouldn't spend too much time out in the sun, so it is hard to juggle both pieces of advice.
And here in Australia, we get plenty of sun.

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