When You Experience 'Reverse' Seasonal Affective Disorder
Finally, it’s spring. The buds are budding, the grass is growing, the harshness of winter gives away to the gentleness of warmth and regrowth. So why am I not happy? Well, I have something I like to call “reverse” seasonal affective disorder. You know how the winter blues are so common? The depression and lethargy at the long, cold, never-ending days of darkness that most people at one point or another during the winter months experience? For me, it’s the complete opposite.
I love winter. I’m a winter baby. I love the cold, the snow, the ice, the wind chills. It’s when I feel most alive and like myself. I don’t know what to do in the spring, especially when everybody else seems to know exactly what to do. They dig out the shorts and flip flops and start buying sunscreen in bulk. Better start making those long anticipated plans to the beach and the cottage. Most people love the warmer weather, and they’re more than happy to brag to me about how much they love it. These summer loving people use every chance they can to tell me how much of a beautiful day it is out, how great it is to finally have some sun and how it makes them feel so much better to be outside.
Meanwhile, I cringe at the thought of going out. I panic at the thought of having to dig through my summer clothes and find something that still fits. I hate the whole process of switching from winter to spring. My depression and anxiety kick into high gear and the thought of leaving the house every day to go out and “enjoy this gorgeous weather” throws me into a tailspin of panic. It’s not that I hate the gorgeous weather necessarily, I just hate how it makes me feel. Sure there are those rare days I can go sit by the lake and enjoy the cool breeze and take in the warmth. But make no mistake, I spend the majority of my time locked in anxiety mode not wanting to do anything.
I live with depression and anxiety year round. It’s not something I can easily get away from, but for me, I feel most comfortable in the winter. I like being bundled up. I feel protected. Locked inside a big burly cocoon and nothing can get at me. My thoughts and emotions feel protected, buried deep beneath the surface where I can’t get to them and they can’t get to me. But as soon as the warmer weather hits, I feel the ice melting and everything comes floating to the surface and I’m exposed. Raw. And I hate it.
I wish I could love the summer. I really do. But it’s just not me. And I really wish people could accept that and not make such a big deal about the fact that I don’t love it. When people grumble to me about how much they hate winter, I don’t snap back and judge them. I don’t give them weird looks and wonder what’s wrong with them because they don’t love it like me. Sure, it’s much less common to be a winter lover than a summer one — but we do exist. Those few of us who would rather be curled up beneath the blankets with a fan blowing on us than be invited to some backyard barbecue where we have to pretend to have fun and be social. Sorry, I just don’t have the mental energy for that.
So next time you run into me in the elevator with your beach chair under your arm and bags full of beach toys, please don’t tell me how great the weather is and assume that I’ll just agree with you. We don’t all love the summer. And we’re not “crazy” for not loving it. I’m not defective for not reveling in the sunshine and horse playing around at the beach. I’m not weird for not wanting to hang out at your cottage all weekend. Don’t be offended if I don’t feel like going to your backyard pool party. It’s nothing personal. I just really, really don’t like summer.
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Getty image via Sharon McCutcheon