Thursday, June 10, 2010

Seasonally Affected

I don't mean to be dramatic (actually who am I kidding, of course I do) but I am afflicted with a disorder. (Insert my father making a joke about how my disorder is my flair for the dramatic.) This is a tale of how this disorder has controlled my recent life.

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). (And by "have" I mean "self diagnosed.") SAD, as defined by Wikipedia, is, "

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression or winter blues, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or, less frequently, in the summer, spring or autumn, repeatedly, year after year. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), SAD is not a unique mood disorder, but is "a specifier of major depression".

The US National Library of Medicine notes that "some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up."

For those of you who don't live in Switzerland the weather here up until last weekend was terrible. It rained every day for three straight weeks. It was the first day of June and I was still wearing jeans which is totally unacceptable in my book. I was feeling an unusually high level of melancholia, life ennui, apathy and general sort of unhappiness that, for those of you that know me, is pretty much the opposite of my general disposition. I was stuck in a rainy-rut and I was less social and a much less fun au pair.

Friday, however, all that changed. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day and as I was walking down Bahnhofstrasse (the main street in Zürich) to meet Krustina for lunch I could just feel those dangerous UV rays seeping into my skin and lifting my mood (and Vitamin D levels). After lunch I headed to the pool to soak up some more of the glorious weather. Whilst there, The Mother called to say she needed to be on a conference call that afternoon so could I be there for the kids after school. Normally this would have bugged me but Friday I happily obliged. At home I was back to my super fun au pair self of yesteryear and I actually enjoyed myself and my time with The Kids. It was a little weird but I'll take it! Friday night was a blast, anything that includes a grill, beer and hotdogs will pretty much always reign supreme in my book.

Saturday I awoke to feeling less than great but I thought, "Hey, I could either feel less than great in my bed or AT THE POOL!" So I went to the pool, sweated out my excess beer consumption from the evening before and then later met up with some friends (the same guys as the previous night) by the lake in Zürich. Despite a wee bit of sunburn (sorry mom) it proved to be another fun and funny day. I even jumped into the lake (still freezing, sort of like White Bear Lake I'm guessing) but my cold water tolerance has clearly improved by living in Minnestoa so I was able to swim for a while.

Sunday I again went to the lake with some au pair friends to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. All in all a wonderful, sunny weekend. Now when people see me instead of asking, "Gee Jill? What's wrong? You seem pale and sullen," they say, "Wow! How'd you get so tan?!"

It's good to be back.


  1. Ah. Summer. In Switzerland. I'm so jealous. We're all cold and around the fire here!

  2. I had a similar disorder, started in august(knowing school started in september) it always lasted until mid may (knowing school let out in june). Never knew it had a name.-JC