The dark skies cloud my mind, causing me to be almost immobile. My emotions are closed off, shut down like a clock with a dead battery. Chores remain undone. Even the dogs pick up my mood and shuffle around from one sleeping spot to another. My muscles are stiff and useless, unable to take me for a much needed walk. I’m almost blind since my eyes are covered over with a haze from the dark, grey environment outside. I’m not depressed but lifeless, unable to function, not drugged but feeling drug-like.
For exactly thirty years I lived in the beautiful state of Oregon, a part of the country that is covered with dark clouds and rain from about October to sometimes the end of June. There were days, weeks and months of rain, showers, downpours, and drizzle, seemingly hundreds of words the weather forecasters used to describe moisture falling from the dark clouds. It all came down to the same thing for me, inactivity, dullness, an almost panicky feeling that I’d never see the warm sun again. Each day I’d turn my pale face upward, yearning for a blue, cloudless sky, needing the sun’s mending rays on my skin. I was often reminded of Ray Bradbury’s two short stories, The Long Rain and All Summer In A Day, words worth reading if you too ache for sunshine.
Finally someone gave my winter sadness a name: Seasonal Affective Disorder. I discovered there are others who share my need for the recharging yellow orb in the sky. But giving a name to my feelings did not help me. The state, for all its beauty, became too overwhelmingly grey for me during those long nine months. I chose to move to the southeast, leaving behind the green fields and snow covered mountains.
Yet, here too in Florida we have occasional periods of darkness as storms hurry through from the Gulf of Mexico. The difference is that now I am in my senior years and I’ve accepted that my brain fog coincides with the layer of clouds over my head. I don’t apologize to anyone for my inertia on those dark days and allow myself to remain quiet and introspective, reading or knitting or crocheting. Here in Florida the sun typically reappears quickly as the ocean breezes push the moisture-laden clouds north, although this spring the clouds are lingering for days. When the sun returns I will go from being a hollow shell of a person, old and near the end of my life to that of an energetic child, as the sun’s rays warm my arms, the light pulsing into the lens of my eyes, filling my brain with hope and energy.
This is who I am, my dark, grey, cloudy moods contrast with my sunny emotions, my soul carried along by the forces of the atmosphere. I am not alone. There are others sitting in their chairs shrouded in self darkness, waiting for the golden orb in the sky to awaken them. We are the children of the sun.