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22 August 2008

coming out of my summer closet... yeah? Okay! I've been cocooning, for lack of a more neurotic term, because summer weather seriously, seriously gets me down - this year worse than ever, it seems. Some explanation follows [warning: long, boring, very long, hot (in the "sweltering" sense), whiny, boring, cry-me-a-river, boring, self-centered. Also? boring.][More:]

I remember the first half of my life, when I had the February Blues every year - classic SAD... but living so long in so many hot and sunny places, my SAD syndrome shifted to summer - and August, especially, is death month for me: I have zero motivation, zero energy, pretty much zero interest in anything. I hardly cook or clean, taking a shower is an achievement (don't worry, I manage to do this), I can't work, I can barely communicate.

Don't imagine that I'm huddled in fetal position in my bed for weeks on end, though; I do manage to get up and do the basic minimum, and I don't even really feel absolutely desperate, because I know it will end. When the weather changes. It's sort of like being smothered, except you understand that the pillow will be lifted from your face before you actually die, so you just hang on.

Well, that's not exactly right either, but "being smothered" is the best metaphor that I can come up with for how I feel every summer.

In Thessaloniki, I knew I could start having hope for life after mid-August. Truly, after August 15 (a very big religious holiday here) I could begin to feel the weather changing, little by little, and manage to pull myself up by the seasonal bootstraps to become more fully human again. Here in Athens, it's far less clear when I can begin to have hope. Last year was utterly insane, with record-breaking high temperatures every week for months, so it's not like I have even one normal year to compare this one to. So I've just decided to try to force it.

It's still ridiculously hot and oppressive here, but I've decided that now, a full week after I would have been begun to start feeling a sense of hope in Thessaloniki, and having no other personal data to apply - I'm going to impose it.

As of tomorrow, I am going to try to be "normal" (normal for me, anyway - so, not really normal, so much as not totally abnormal). Even if it's still miserably miserable here, I do honestly believe that September will bring succor, and the days keep trudging towards September... and any minute now I might feel an early breath of Boreas.

Also, for anyone who might worry about these things (I would!), I'm still taking good care of the dog, and also not making my husband suffer. He knows that my light goes out in the hottest part of summer, so he doesn't freak out, and making problems [fucking things up] with him is not part of my pathology, thank goodness.

So, blah, blah, &etc. Still, tomorrow morning I'm going to try very hard to wake up and act like me, whatever the temperature.
aww poor taz! Good to see you back now. You should come and live in the UK, or somewhere in northern Europe. The weather has been complete rubbish this summer and has only been above 25 degrees C on four days.

I used to know a lecturer from New Zealand who had two jobs, each covering half the year - winter in NZ followed by winter in London. She stuck with it for three years before the SAD got too much - she collapsed in a small heap and demanded a full-time post in London.
posted by altolinguistic 22 August | 09:17
Wishing you (and me) cooler, less humid weather.

Fall's my favorite season, though darkened by the thought of the coming winter. Call me a hater, but the only good season where I am now is the crisp sunny Fall.
posted by DarkForest 22 August | 09:17
Ah, taz, sorry to hear it. I'm glad you feel it changing. Even here in New England you can see the angle of sunlight beginning to change. We are such animals still, so connected to the weather, so dependent on our planets to do what we need.

I am a big summer person, but for some reason, I have been feeling unusually down and lethargic. Maybe it's August doldrums.
posted by Miko 22 August | 09:25
Change of seasons = good. Fall = good and to me it will always be the real beginning of the year. Gah, I don't know. I'm so maximally stressed out these days that I'm turning into the Angriest Dog in the World. I gave my mom a copy of The Other Boleyn Girl to read in the hospital and she's been complaining bitterly that it has too much sex but I have noticed that she is more or less unable to put it down. So I recommend that for you. For me? I need a fucking winning lotto ticket and I need it NOW. ;-)
posted by mygothlaundry 22 August | 09:36
Oh taz, I totally understand - and it's horrid. I spent at least one January (the Australian equivalent to August) as a student on a mattress on the back verandah, my body outlined in sweat because it was so goddam hot. Some days I'd go to the library, or the museum, or the movies, or just take myself up to the shopping centre, find a comfy chair and just sit reading in the sweet, blessed air conditioning for the day. I hate wanting to look for aircon just to be comfortable, and I equally hate spending my life in aircon, which is how I found myself my last year in Brisbane - going from my air conditioned home to my air conditioned car to my air conditioned office, and back again.

But now we've had a sucky summer in London, and I find myself dreaming of lying on the beach in the sun. It's nice to have four seasons again though!
posted by goo 22 August | 09:45
Just be you. We love you.
posted by Eideteker 22 August | 09:54
taz, I'm so glad to see you. I know exactly how you feel. I'm sorry you've been down this summer and glad to hear you're coming back to life. :-)
posted by LoriFLA 22 August | 10:00
What Eide said. Now that you're out of your cocoon spread your wings and fly!
posted by WolfDaddy 22 August | 10:06
Ugh, I totally sympathize. For years and years, since high school, I've had a huge amount of trouble getting through the first quarter after winter break. Pretty much all of February and into March is a huge struggle to keep me from sabotaging my grades and life in general. And I just moved to Seattle and I'm terribly worried that things won't ever get bright enough for me to be okay - it's August and the last week has had about three days with an hour of sun in them.

I hope things pick up for you soon.
posted by Fuzzbean 22 August | 10:06

That was me, in February, though the smothering for me was the darkness rather than the heat. It sucks.

Take care of yourself. There can sometimes (at least for me) be a fine line between "I'm forcing myself to do things that I need to do in order to regain a sense of motivation, which makes things better" and "I'm forcing myself to do things in order to deny how I'm actually feeling, which makes things worse." I think any survival actions definitely fall into the first category, but I sometimes pushed myself into doing more social-y things (even if that was just going to a museum by myself) because I thought they were things that I usually liked to do, and I found that, no, my body and soul really just wanted to hibernate and rest, thanks, and all this bustling around was *really* not appreciated. I just felt worn down to my last nerve sometimes even just going out to lunch by myself.

Sooooo..... that was a very long, convoluted way of saying take care of yourself, and listen to yourself. And as my therapist used to say, Do more of what makes you feel better, and do less of what makes you feel worse.
posted by occhiblu 22 August | 10:41
And last year there were the terrible fires, which must have been scary & awful. You're over the hump & having September & October in Greece to look forward to is a fine thing.
posted by theora55 22 August | 10:44
November is never great for me, so I know these annual cycles of depression. Can you get down to the coast at all? I visited Sounion many years ago and thought it was so beautiful, that fabulous temple on the cape and the turquoise sea. It's only 2 hours from Athens.
posted by essexjan 22 August | 12:06
Congrats on your emergence, taz!

I get that over the winter. Every year I wonder if I'll be able to live through another one, (which means that fall scares me to death.)
posted by small_ruminant 22 August | 12:25
Sorry to hear it's been so rough, taz... I hope you continue to feel better. And if I may, I strongly recommend air conditioning. Be green in other ways, but GIVE ME MY AIR CONDITIONING! I would never make it through the summer without it. I'm built for winter, with layers of blubber like a polar bear. Fall is my favorite, though. Changing leaves, cool air. I missed the seasons when we lived in Miami. (Though it was nice going to the pool in February.)
posted by Pips 22 August | 17:15
I feel like that in May and June, small_ruminant - exactly. Bah.

Jan, we haven't (well, I haven't - not sure about V.) been to Sounion, and we should definitely go! We were planning to go to a nice small island, but since August is Greek holiday month, we didn't want to go when it was crowded... Maybe in September if V. can get a replacement for work (doubtful).

Oh, well. I did cook today... I made Briami, which is a bit of a pain in the ass, but total comfort food, and healthy. It's in the oven (oven, omg!!) now. And I'm sending V. to the store for ice cream sandwiches. The diet can wait 'til it gets below 90F. It's about 98F right now. :(
posted by taz 23 August | 06:36
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