Descent into Darkness   Leave a comment

clockI hate this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, the extra hour of sleep that first night of the clocks turning back is lovely (even though intellectually I know I’ll be losing it in the spring). And having it a little lighter in the mornings does make it (marginally) easier to get myself out of bed. Well, okay, it doesn’t really, but at least it’s not pitch-black outside while I’m trying to convince myself that getting up is a good idea. Not yet. But it’s coming.

And I hate the way it makes me feel.

In addition to suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder – the person who came up with something that spelled SAD was brilliant, by the way; twisted but brilliant – which affects “six percent of the US population, primarily in northern climates… [with] another 14 percent of the adult US population [suffering] from a lesser form of seasonal mood changes, known as winter blues.” (Psychiatry (Edgmont). May 2008; 5(5): 31–33 ), I also have a little thing I like to call Seems Like Unending Gloom, or SLUG.

Before you ask, yes, it did take me more than a few minutes to come up with that, and yes, I’m very proud of it. I plan on submitting it to the American Psychiatric Association – the APA, since we’re throwing acronyms around – for inclusion in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Really.

What are the symptoms of SLUG you ask? (At least, I hope you’re asking; otherwise I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this for no reason…) Here is a partial list. Please note not all people will experience all symptoms. If you feel some symptoms are missing from this list, feel free to add them in the comments area. I want this to be comprehensive prior to sending to the APA.

  • Reduced mental… uh, hold on there’s a word… oh yeah… acuity.

  • Cravings for comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, broccoli-cheddar soup, beef stew, chili… hmmmm. (I’ll be right back, I just need to grab a quick snack get the phone. Because it’s ringing, and I’m sure it’s vitally important… Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah.)

  • A distinct lack of interest in things that require extensive thought or any physical effort.

  • An inability to summon the energy to do anything (including writing this blog) after the sun sets. At four o’clock. You know it will be here soon.

  • Feelings of wanting to curl up and sleep on the couch covered by a fuzzy blanket and a warm cat.

Okay, that last one may just be me, but you get the idea.

What makes this time of year the most difficult for me is how useless I feel. Which I hate. Just trying to pay attention to my son, keep up with the bare minimum of housework (if you plan on visiting me in the near future, please give me at least two hours warning, please), make sure the laundry is done (never mind folded), and go out grocery shopping (did you know teenagers complain if you don’t feed them?) is exhausting. And not having the energy to complete these basic tasks – never mind trying to get to the things I actually want to do – just makes me feel worse. Most days, by the time I get home from work, all I feel up to is crashing on the couch and being a cat bed.

Kind of like a slug.

I know I’m being overly critical here, and I need to cut myself some slack. Being a single parent with a full-time job is a lot of work, and when I factor in the things that used to be done by my ex-husband but now falls to me, the amount of time I have for leisure shrinks even more. And with fewer hours of daylight…

Well, you can see where this is going.

Normally, this is the part of the blog post where I come up with something insightful or witty or if I’m really lucky both. But honestly, this time I’ve got nothing. The only solution I can see is to wait for spring, for the days to get longer and for the sun not to be a stranger at six-thirty in the morning. Which will happen anyway without any action on my part.

I should learn to enjoy the cuddly blanket, understand the need for the comfort foods, and accept my role as feline heating pad. Just about everything else will still be there in the spring. I should learn to embrace the slug.

Okay, not literally as that would be incredibly disgusting, but you know what I mean. It’s sort of the winter version of the Serenity Prayer. G-d grant me the serenity to accept this dark time of year, courage not to sink into the sofa, and wisdom to understand the light will come back again. Eventually.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to join me and the cat in the darkness, feel free to come on over. We have cookies.

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Posted November 30, 2014 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

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