Saturday, June 14, 2008

I suffer SAD

I can hardly believe there are only 3-days of school left before Summer Break! It would be a little easier to comprehend if our weather wasn't so Januaryish. Aside from the one heat wave several weeks ago the Pacific Northwest has had one heck of a cold and wet spring. Last week we had SNOW! In JUNE!

Since I moved here from San Diego in 1989 I have noticed that the citizens of the Pacific Northwest have winter induced amnesia. While I will be the first to agree that this year has been a long, wet, and cold year so far I have not been completely disappointed. I have been saying since 1989 that Summer here doesn't officially start until July 5th as there have been more rainy Independence Day's than Not. In my own effort to survive this climate and complete lifestyle change since leaving my HOME of San Diego and relocating to the Portland Oregon area I have psychological skill of NOT expecting the Sun to Show until after my favorite holiday. The 4th of July!

This year I have decided I will not suffer another 4th under clouds that settle so low the fireworks are hardly worth packing a picnic basket to watch. I am in no mood to bring along the rain slicks, umbrellas and build a campfire just to pretend we are having a Nice Summer Holiday... This year I am outta here until after July 10th! Hopefully, giving just enough time for my garden to unfreeze and the sun to act as if it remembers this part of the earth.

I suffer from Seasonal Affected Depression - SAD and for me the past 3-months have been complete agony. The only thing that keeps me going at this time of the year...

Is knowing that SAD is a real condition many people in my part of the country suffer and that the only hope there is will come out from behind the gray clouds SOON! That is it! My greatest problem however is that my husband also suffers SAD and if I look around the people I see living life it's pretty clear that a good many of them suffer from SAD also. A trip to the shopping center is all it takes to see the Zombies people with SAD become the longer we have Wet Air and No Sunshine.

I watch as people go through the motions of life--as if we all are waiting for some big thing to happen and the blanket to be lifted. Mother's hardly bother to comb their hair at this time and go shopping in baggy sweatpants, with that look in their eyes I know so well. Clerks at the stores are sluggish and it takes all the effort in the world to smile and engage with anyone. Customers walk about the store with shopping carts that drip rain all over the floor and cause the cardboard holding our packages to get soggy.

The other night I wanted to make some "Easy" box dinner with Hamburger added--something I almost never do because I personally don't like those box dinners. I was all ready to whip up something for the family and get out for a meeting when I turned the box over to read the instructions... Which of course were half missing because apparently that box was on the bottom of the wet shopping cart and someplace along the way the wet part of the box was scraped off. Honestly HOW do the natives not understand how terrible this wet air and no sunlight really is?

Usually, I take my trip to Illinois in August after the Tornado's have stopped visiting because frankly there is only one thing I hate more than rain and that is a tornado. But, considering that I faced a Tornado on January 10th here in my own wet place I am over my fear of being hit by a big one!



I wasn't very happy with the way this picture turned out because it isn't what I actually saw. Apparently a still photo doesn't catch the Spinning and because we have so many clouds anyway the tornado is masked by all the clouds around it. I took this photo about 10 minutes after putting Marty on the school bus, and about 3 seconds before I suffered a panic attack and ran to the closet under the staircase with my phone to call mom and ask what I should do?

This tornado was a F-2 and thankfully it didn't kill anyone. It struck about a 3 miles away and was on ground for about a mile--coming my direction. There was a good deal of damage in our community and several people found dead Fish in their yards and trees after it touched down on a lake sucked up the fish and tossed them around town.

I can say that it was a very surreal experience to see a tornado and turn slightly to see the top of Mt St Helen's...



I have been fine living with the Mountain Steaming now and then with the crater only 28 miles from me as a Crow would Fly. But, I am not okay seeing a tornado and the mountain at the same time!

It seems rather odd that every year about March I am blue and go running to the Shrink because I don't seem able to pull out of the blue spell. Every spring I seem to start some new Anti-Depressant which seems to help a bit, but by the time July 5th rolls around I am Fine--Happy and don't need to put on socks to keep my toes warm. Socks! People in San Diego don't really even know what socks are. Well, we all had two pair one white the other black just in case we had some reason to need dressing up. Here there is a load of laundry every week that consists of ONLY SOCKS!

So, there it is the outburst of a person living in the gloom of what some might call the beauty of the Pacific Northwest... The beauty of green moss and damp hair... The beauty of washing thousands of socks and shopping with dripping wet carts. The beauty that only the most depressed person could point out as a silver lining. I hate to pop any bubbles but, I could drive to the Snow and See the tallest Trees in the country from San Diego on a day trip. One way to the Sand Dunes, one way to the Beach and one way to the Snow and tall trees. There is no drive here that escapes the view of Moss and Wet Air and on a good day I might see the beauty of the trees behind the dripping moss and wild ferns.

I wish that I was not at such risk for skin cancer... I would go home today if I could just see the sun and not die for the burn it gives my pasty-white, freckled skin. Some days, knowing the damage has been done makes me want to be suicidal for the sunshine...

They say it is the damage to the skin in the first ten years of life that makes skin cancer a reality. If this is true I have no idea why I ever left San Diego? My blisters, and repeated sunburns were sever as a young child. If it is true then I am already doomed as both my mother's parents died from Melanoma and both my parents have the scars from the removed Basil-Cell Carcinomas... Being only 16 years younger than my mother, I see the road ahead of me.

I wonder today if SAD is worse in the end then Melanoma would be? I know I will not die from this depression but, sometimes I think a little sunshine on my journey to eventual death would actually be a better life for me. On one hand, day after day of rain and gloom and on the other hand an inevitable fight to keep the blotches I am seeing from turning into Melanoma... A fight it appears I will need to make regardless of where I live. Monday I have another skin screening where I will be told this or that should be biopsied to rule out cancer.

I imagine I will go to the appointment in the Middle of June with a jacket on, and use my windshield wipers as I drive to my appointment. Where someone will inspect every freckle or abnormal appearing skin mass and dig into it... Test it and tell me if I should have something removed. The problem I have is that I know they could look over every cell of skin I have and NOT actually find the cancer. It could be on my scalp under my hair... It could be between my toes.. it could be that brown spot under my left eye on the cheekbone I grew up sporting blisters, pealing and then blistering again. It could be that tiny freckle on the top of my right ear, or as mom suffered It could be some cancer that won't kill me--but, will cause me to need to have my nose cosmetically re-constructed.

And....then I still might suffer the same journey Grandpa did at the age of 48 or Grandma did at the age of 63 and just find out I have a few months left to live. I could suffer just the same as Uncle Eddie and find out just days before I die. Or I could be like my father's brother and just drop dead one day at 49 because my heart stops...

Either way I would rather drop dead in San Diego.... I wish everyone I know and love had not moved away for fear of skin cancer. I would be planning my vacation there instead of Illinois if it were not for Melanoma. Anyway--Thank Goodness summer is nearly here...hopefully, when we return in mid-July we might see a few sunny days before it starts all over again.

Related Links:

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • 2007 Skin Cancer Facts


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