Brown-Wolf: Flipping the sadness of Summit County spring (column)
Spring-like matters surround us this time of year: images of beaches and green grass (or even better, REAL beaches and green grass), Easter greetings, colored eggs, marshmallow Peeps, daffodils and tulips. The hours stretch forward and light illuminates the sky early and late into the day. Truth? I hate it. I know that I shouldn’t use the word “hate,” but I really do.
Of course, springtime in Summit County has much to be desired. Instead of relishing in lilacs and lavender, we dust the snow off desperate little peonies and scrape mud from our boots. But for me, it goes deeper than disliking dirty slush.
Unlike most people, I have reverse seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition that creates depression during the spring months. Call me crazy, but I’d give anything to return to the darkening days of fall. I love the tiny white twinkle lights along my deck, and I’d rather smell wood smoke than fallen pine needles. I don’t want to stop making my vats of stew. Don’t kick me out of Summit County, but I don’t even like to spring ski — send me the blizzards. There, I said it.
According to an article by Linda Wasmer Andrews in “Psychology Today,” one out of every ten individuals with SAD suffers from spring depression. While people skip through tulips singing stupid spring songs, those with reverse SAD do not. Instead of increased energy, excitement and enthusiasm, people with reverse SAD recognize spring fever with a feeling of dread. Depression can worsen, and statistics show that the highest rates of suicide are during late spring and early summer. Reverse seasonal affective disorder is not something to be taken lightly.
It took me years to understand that not liking spring didn’t make me a freak. I finally learned a few coping skills to help push through my months of ick. I work and write a lot, which helps me feel productive. Yay me. Because escape can be useful, I take vacation in April, the very worst month of the year for me. I cook with lemons and limes, focusing on a lighter diet. So there’s that. Most importantly, I’ve learned to rely on a growing spiritual practice, which includes honoring Easter and the sense of sacrifice, gratitude and renewal. Instead of glancing at the muck between my feet, I focus on the birds building their nests. If I listen closely, I can hear their whistles and chirps full of joy, creating a chorus. If I take the time to notice, I see the magic.
In a word, spring is magical. Watching a seed emerge from the dirt as a tiny, green plant and begin to grow into a spectacular flower is the stuff fairy-tales are made of, pure enchantment. That alone, is enough to appreciate, if not love, springtime. I’ll never be one to dance around a flagpole on Mayday, but learning to appreciate the magic makes me dance inside myself. For someone suffering from reverse seasonal affective disorder, that’s not nothing. Happy spring to the rest of you!
Carrie Brown-Wolf resides in Silverthorne.
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