Is there a particular season of the year you just HATE? I've tried ignoring it. I've tried pretending it doesn't exist. I've tried wishing it away.
But the fact is, summer and me don't get along. At all.
Many people understand Seasonal Affect Disorder in relation to winter. If the sky is gray and the weather bitterly cold, it will understandably make you feel sad and moody. But extreme sunlight?? Hot weather? Really?
But it's true. Summertime can be just as debilitating as winter, with anxiety topping the charts during these hot months. Personally I never feel more wigged out, stressed, overworked, and underfed as in the summer. I gain weight, I drink too much, I sleep way too much one day and way too little the next.
Just maintaining my simple summer schedule feels like climbing Mt. Everest every morning. It's tough to stick with, but I have stuck with it simply because without it, I doubt I'd get out of bed at all. There's a side of me that feels completely bewildered and confused by this behavior. Just get to work Leah! Just get over it! Just keep moving! I'm an extremely good self motivator, but I can't deny the very weird feeling that only half my brain is working right now.
This isn't the first year I've dealt with summer sad, though it is the first year I've taken serious note of how much it changes my behavior and attitude. For the last 4 years at least, I've literally hibernated during this time by becoming obsessed and consumed with writing a book, quilting a big quilt, creating a DVD, or in some very stressful years, struggling through all three at once.
One might argue that this is just my creative cycle. The rest of the year I maintain a better balance, but this time of the year I want to dig deep and not come up for air for weeks on end.
That's certainly one way to look at it, but I have to say being on the receiving end of this drive to just mindlessly stitch ALL THE TIME is not very easy. It's also a hard impulse to follow when I really want to have fun with my family and do all the summertime things - camping, fishing, and swimming - that I've missed out on in previous years.
So what am I going to do? I kept asking myself this today as I bounced around the house from task to task. Why can't I settle? Why can't I have fun?
Finally I found an answer: Why don't you just give yourself a break?
Give in and give up. Stop trying so damn hard. Yeah, you're anxious, so BE anxious. Sit with it and feel it and put it to rest. Stop trying to run away from it because it's only going to catch up with you later.
That answer isn't a comfortable one. I know that finding balance during this time of the year will always be difficult, if not downright impossible. The one comfort I have is the knowledge that this is not how I typically am, and that pretty soon this summer will end and this anxious energy will hopefully go with it.
Will I manage to get through this season without hibernating, without disappearing completely from my regular life and schedule? I can't answer that right this second. All I can say is I'm going to try very hard to keep quilting alone in the morning and swimming with the guys in the afternoon. So long as I maintain at least that balance of activities, I will feel that this year is an improvement. It is not a high standard I'm setting, but as I said before, I'm trying to give myself a break!
It's not easy to put all this out here, but it helps in some way to simply be honest. If this season is making you feel crazy, anti-social, and unbalanced, maybe it helps to know you're not alone. For me, talking about this with my dad, who also deals with high anxiety and stress during this time of the year, was very comforting. You are not alone. Yes, it will pass. Yes, you will be okay.