We’ve had our share of dismal weather. I pray for a long respite while we sadly pick up the pieces from the last typhoon. Videos of the devastation from Mangkhut have been chilling. Someone called it “the wrath of nature.”
But as I write this, the sun is out and the sky is blue. And I feel balmy warm breezes filter through the windows of my casita. Last night I actually saw a star. And today I’m thinking, all’s right with the world. Then the phone rings.
My friend and confidante for more years than I care to count had a long tale of woe to tell. I have heard her moans and groans before and I know they pass. But she sounded almost despondent.
It must be the weather, I thought. Long ago I read about how changes in the weather can affect our emotions.
In an article by Therese Borchard, she quoted John Grohol, founder and CEO of Psych Central, who contradicts studies that say, “Weather has little if any effect on moods.” Grohol says, “The preponderance of evidence suggests that weather can have more than just a little effect on your mood.”
His opinion is based on the results of research done on 16,000 students in Switzerland that showed, “18 percent of the boys and 27 percent of the girls responded negatively to certain weather conditions, exhibiting symptoms of fatigue, dysphoric moods, irritability and headaches.”
Another article published in Psychological Science some years ago asserted that pleasant weather was related to “higher moods, better memory and an expansive cognitive style,” and that this was because people tend to spend more time outdoors when the climate is fair and agreeable.
And yet, we know that warmer is not necessarily better. Heat can make people cranky and aggressive.
Some people lose their anxieties when the weather takes a turn. They enjoy walks in the rain, or curling up under a blanket during a storm.
I suddenly miss the almost perfect climate of Hawaii, my happy place.
Is it S.A.D.?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a condition related to the change of seasons. The symptoms are a feeling of depression, loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy, low energy, a touch of insomnia, changes in appetite or weight.
Some get sluggish, lethargic. Others are agitated. In extreme cases they feel hopeless, worthless, guilty and may obsess over thoughts of death or suicide.
I know how it feels to have “cabin fever.” It happened to my family once in South Salem, New York, after a two-day blizzard. We had run out of games to amuse the children and ourselves. Thank goodness there was food, in fact too much of it. We must have gained several kilos just sitting by the fire and eating ourselves silly. There was no depression. Just restlessness.
When at last the sun appeared, everyone, except this lola, jumped off the redwood deck on to the huge banks of snow down below. The children were euphoric!
They had prayed for a white Christmas, but this was ridiculous!
I was happy to have them out of the house.
I ask a few people.
My writing buddy, now in his 80s, smiles as he remembers sneaking out of school during foul weather for “forbidden fun.” He didn’t explain. He didn’t have to.
I asked my granddaughter what she feels during stormy weather. She said, “I get a ‘stay at home’ kind of happy.”
My sister loves the sound of rain on the roof. My cousin grabs a raincoat and splashes her way to the stores. My daughter feels down.
“I get upset,” says my real estate agent friend. “It fouls up my schedules. But it also forces me to free up some time for family, and that’s always fun.”
Others get hungry. I crave salty munchies. Don’t know why.
What happens when all we have are memories?
When I got back to my friend, the storm was over. But she was still depressed. It was not the weather.
“It is too quiet at home.” She was choking back tears. “When I speak, I can hear the echo of my voice.”
When I suggest Netflix, or that she read a book, she replies: “I have done that. I just sit here and watch TV. But I’m not interested.
“I have no reason to complain. I am well-provided for. I have more than I need. I have kind helpers. I guess I’m just lonely.”
She is quiet. Crying. I don’t ask about her children. She reads my mind. “The kids are busy.”
I invite her to my Bible class. I suggest we go out to lunch or dinner, whatever. She is not listening.
She continues. “Music makes me sad. All it does is remind me of the happy times.”
I tell her “Treasure those memories, be grateful.”
Her answer: “But they make me cry.”
I beg her to remember the joy.
“It doesn’t matter anyway. I am just waiting for my time to come.”
My heart is heavy. I am lost for words.
And I remember lines from a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.