A typically British summer’s day here today. The sun is trying to shine but is being blocked out by the low cloud. Showers have been intermittent but it’s remained pretty mild. My goodness, this weather girl lark is easy.
It’s among the very first things anyone in the UK will speak to you about, whether they know you or not. Fahrenheit and Celsius, sunshine and rain, they are as much part of being British as fish and chips and warm beer.
It seems to be, as well, one of the first stereotypical things anyone will say if they know, or if you reveal to them, that you’re suffering from depression. It’s not only well meaning friends or pub bores, though, that talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder, as soon as they ask how you are and you reveal you’re not too good. Even my therapists have at least hinted that what I have is part ‘to do with the weather’.
I can see where the perception comes from. If you’re not feeling great about yourself, and you peer out of the window to see grey clouds and pouring rain, it’s easy to feel that bit worse. I used that very excuse earlier this summer to not get out of bed and go to an event I was invited to.
That’s all it was, though, an excuse. The underlying reason was, and still is, my cripplingly low self esteem in social situations. I was subconsciously looking for anything to get out of it. After all, later that same day, I sauntered into town.
It goes to show that the label of having a seasonally affected disorder, where feeling suicidal or euphoric is down to whether it’s a bright summer’s day or a cold winter’s evening, is often a very easy yet misguided conclusion to reach.
Further evidence that what I have is a psychological, rather than elementary based, disorder is in something I do every single day. The humble walk, whether it be searching for working or getting some exercise, is what I usually enjoy doing regardless of what the skies are bringing down towards Earth. It’s in those times where I often feel things the deepest.
My ideal weather is, more or less, as it is today. I could with it being a little less brighter, mind, as I regularly fall foul of weeping eyes. I guess the occasional looks of concern of strangers when I wander by, for no apparent reason I can think of at the time, is because of those streaming tear ducts. I’m not crying though (well, not usually). Just sensitive around the eyeballs.
I love to feel light drizzle, too. Somehow it makes me feel a little more alive. I’m not sure how, it just does. A light breeze is great, too, preferably slightly on the cool side of mild. I feel comfortable in those conditions. I feel as if I can walk and walk and walk. Then, because of that spring in my step, positive and determined thoughts begin to pervade my mind. It’s a good feeling.
It also has the advantage, especially if the drizzle is persistent, that the seafront walk is done with hardly anyone else around. There’s a world of difference between being alone and being lonely. I enjoy the solace, the sea gently sweeping in, with the soft tones of the waves caressing the shore. It’s a wonderful place to be, both physically and mentally.
Perhaps it’s the Celtic side of me, with those Northern Scottish roots, but I ‘m also okay in the winter, if it’s cold and wet, maybe even snowing. So long as there isn’t a freezing wind, I’m fine. Like everyone else, though, I’m not particularly happy with being chilled to the bone. Yet, if I’m out in the darkness of the winter, it’s not a catalyst for triggering anything negative.
The weather that brings on by far the most negative thoughts, and engenders the worst feelings within me, is when the weather is hot, with the sun beating down. The eyes squint and weep, even with the sun behind me. Walking becomes more of a effort, presumably through being a bit more dehydrated.
It’s in those conditions, and with that sunshine bringing out the daytrippers, which means less quiet and more attention needed to where I’m going (often because others don’t bother to). My headspace and my physical space is then filled with temporary irritations.
From there, I begin to feel down, chiding myself for being so intolerant of others, allowing myself to be bothered by being less than perfectly comfortable. Then the damning negative thoughts come to me, of how useless I am, or how much I miss my ex. It snowballs in the heat.
It’s a blessed relief that I live in Britain. The weather that triggers me to feel worse than I usually do is never around for long spells. True, it may annoy the 60 million or so other Britons, but dull, mild weather is in plentiful supply every spring, summer and autumn. If I’m seasonally affected, then it’s actually in a positive way.
On that note, I’m off for a wander. I’ve just seen the first few spots of afternoon drizzle. It may be raining on the beach and on the few daytrippers left now.
But not on my parade.