Saturday, January 13, 2007

Seasonal Issues, Light, Color Sweet Tooth

From older blog 12/18/06

What a shock. These last few years I've been helping my lovely wife and my beautiful daughter with their seasonal depression ("Did you use the light box today? Taking your fish pills? Get a walk in the sun this afternoon? Need someone to listen?") and in the middle of Christmas Explosion II Laura grinned and told me I had it too. I was jerked up so short all I could do was the mental equivalent of a fish making "o"s.

So many things made sense in a rush. The frustration I felt when the Daylight Savings bill was going to phase in the expansion of Daylight Savings Time, instead of getting it going NOW. The way I treasure and grasp at every last ray of sunshine in the last hour of the day, like someone sopping up every drop of gravy with bread. The way my inner artist in the winter gets even more of a sweet-tooth, and I can't prevent all this yellow and orange from getting on everything. Neon pencils. Ultramarine blue to make the oranges and yellows go shrieking off the page like a flare, signalling the sinking of my emotional ship as Christmas approaches and with it the shortest days of the year.

Check out Gallery 2 and see "Wake Up!" which is my latest. The camera blue-shifted it - in life the blues are so French and lovely deep, making the tangerine and sunbeam colors sing. Looking at it I can smell citrus.

So Christmas Explosion II was shut off as suddenly as the needle skidding off a record. With my jaw dropped open I realized with huge relief that there is an explanation for the self destructive tendencies. Later Laura brought me a glass of water and a fish pill. (I'm not sure who makes them but they are big enough to look like they belong in the other end.) Most of the day we spent outside in the sun, enjoying that warm weather that makes Christmas seem a mirage, but that makes NC winters so lovely. We could almost imagine that spring was only a few weeks away. We grilled (I tried air cured sausages from Billy's in Wallace, NC for the first time - MAN are they good) and sat outside until dusk.

And today, except for the familiar emotional nose-dive at sunset, has been a much better day. Sometimes a demon is easier to handle it you know its name.


tomsgal said...

After reconnecting via LinkedIn I wanted to see what I've missed these last few years. I found it interesting that your and your family "suffer" from SAD. Some years ago (before Tom) I dated a fellow who truly suffered from SAD. We were together six years and I learned quite a bit about it. Although I do believe that his problems were much more severe then just SAD. Anyway, his doctor believed that the cause of SAD was more then just light deprivation. His theory was that if light deprivation was the issue then the two days of the year when the amount of daylight was the same (autumnal and spring equinox) then symptoms would be relieved or at least the same. However his patients reported that symptoms were quite different on these days. Fall/winter were days of low energy, high caloric intact, increased hours of sleep, etc. Spring/Summer were days of euphoria, high energy, weight loss, and decrease in sleep. The difference was not the amount of light but the wavelength of light. I think it was blues vs reds but I can't remember. Anyway, I look forward to reading your blog and staying connected. - Hope

Steve Emery said...

TomsGal - Welcome, and thanks for contacting me in e-mail and here.

We've discovered for ourselves, too, that our autumn and winter blues are indeed linked in large part to color. We improved thing by painting our interior a warm yellow. I am HUNGRY for orange in the fall and winter - it affects my art. And we come into lit spaces and look up and at each other and want to know what kind of light bulbs are in use! We HATE the idea that someday everything will be flourescent - that light is more blue and depressing.

I'm sure, reading your comment, that the whole SAD seasonal cycle is a natural response to the seasons. When humans were more tied to the land, and life was closer to the weather, that probably helped. Dearest and I joke about Vikings getting all depressed and carbohydrated in the winter so when they're packed together in the winter they don't blow up and kill each other...