Two mornings ago, I woke up in a funk. My neck hurt, my head hurt, my face hurt, and I couldn’t breathe through the humid, pollen-saturated air. It was dark and cloudy and the feeling of the day was the worst kind of oppressive (if there ever can be said to be a good kind!). My morning at work was unproductive. I sent a few emails, created a few accounts on our database, started a folder for Monday’s board meeting agenda and attachments. Even the fresh-baked muffins my boss brought for us (side note: happy administrative professionals’ week/day/whatever) couldn’t quite lift my mood.
As is usual at lunch, my coworker fetched me to go for our midday stroll – which may be a little bit of a misnomer, as we walk briskly and somewhere between three and four miles – and it was still gray. I glumly stumbled to the bathroom and changed from pencil skirt to compression capris and pink flats to tennis shoes before stumbling glumly down the back staircase and out into the fresh (HA) air.
And then! The wind rose. The clouds cleared. The sun peaked out and in the space of a block, the weather went from hideous to stunning.
It was as if my morning had never happened. My lingering food-guilt from having the muffin dissipated. I practically skipped up the killer hill we elected to tackle. The walk, in short, was awesome.
Once back in the office, my mood started to flag again. My headache returned. I ate another muffin out of directionless stress and I was buried in guilt over it half an hour later (not helped by the fact that I spent the weekend eating junk food – yes, it was vacation, but the sheer amount that I had felt like a four-day long binge).
Clouds make me cranky. Wait, correction. I am a naturally cranky person, and clouds make it worse. They separate me from my precious sunlight, the sunlight that absolutely does not love me back, as my bright red shoulders and forehead can attest.
Storms, though, excite me. There’s power in them and a forward-rushing that gives me a huge boost of energy. I wonder sometimes if my dislike of clouds is related to them being dirty teases, promising me a storm that never comes.
Case in point, yesterday morning. I was woken up by thunder and it was awesome. I was revved. I was happy. I was ready to go. Then the thunder stopped, and it was just rain, and like a thumbtack in a basketball I went from totally pumped to totally deflated. I think I used that simile correctly but I’m not too up on sports equipment.
It’s not that I’m incapable of being happy when I’m not in the sun. I’m frequently quite pleased when I’m sitting in a dark room on a computer like the basement-dweller I am at heart. But the weather has an awfully strong effect on my mood, and one that has either gotten stronger over time or I’ve never noticed to this extent before.
The clinical term for this type of phenomena is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the aptly-acronymed SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder refers more to pervasive low mood relating to the seasons changing, rather than the sun hiding behind a cloud, so it doesn’t entirely apply here. However, it does lend credence to the idea that the presence or absence of sunlight can, and does, have a profound influence on mood. There’s fairly strong evidence that moving towards the equator, where the sun is stronger, can even completely cure SAD. I guess I didn’t move equator-wards enough.
Clearly my mood being tied so closely to the weather is less than healthy, but it’s not uncommon. Now that I’m more consciously aware of it, I’m trying to harness the power of sunlight to be extra productive when it’s lovely out, so that I’m free to wallow a little when it’s gross. Like everything in life, it’s all about finding a balance. And like my childhood self who fell over a lot, I’m not good at balance, but I sure am trying.
(As an aside: this blog has 2,000 views and 20 comments and the numbers being sort of even like that make me really happy. Thank you all!)