Cabin Fever and My Summer Depression
It’s here. Summer and the unforgiving scorching temperatures of Southern California. I have previously talked about how summer and the heat can negatively affect people with multiple sclerosis, but this year it’s affecting me a little differently and I thought I should share my current struggle with others who may be in a similar situation.
Coping with MS and depression
You see, I have also talked about depression a couple of times as it is an important part of my life that I have been dealing with longer than I have MS. I now I am discovering how these two issues are teaming up to try to take me down. I am sure others will relate to this.
Each summer seems to get hotter
First of all, as predicted, last summer was hotter than the previous, and this summer seems to be even hotter. The weather is just crazy these days. No matter where you live on this planet, there seems to be one extreme or the other - unbelievably hot or a snowy hellscape (paradise if you ask me).
Others don't understand how difficult the summer can be
Now, I have never really liked the summer, even growing up before MS came into my life. It just felt… uncomfortable. Most of the people around me in my life love the summer. Lying out on the beach under the sun or taking a swim in the pool, they see a glamour in it that I just can’t even imagine. Remember, when I say “summer,” I am talking 90-115 degrees. So, they often never really get how miserable I am during this part of the year and how much of a struggle getting through each day can be because, “It’s summer! This is the fun time of the year!”
Seasonal affective disorder isn't just for winter
Most people get the whole SAD ( Seasonal affective disorder) thing in the winter. They hate the lack of sun, the clouds, the cold, the rain, and all that dreariness - but I love it. I feel energized and motivated to go out and just do stuff! A small percentage of people get it during the summer, and that always seemed to be me. It is much worse now that MS is such a huge part of my life. It is too hot to go outside, so I am stuck in my room all day with my portable air conditioner. We have a pretty large house so trying to keep it cool is pretty expensive, even with my discount from the power company, so we keep the thermostat at 80, which is a bit warm for my liking but compared to the 100+ degree weather, it is much cooler.
Stuck in a dark room for the season
Regardless, I feel comfortable in my room where I try to keep it at about 70, but here is the problem: I am always stuck in here! I get such bad cabin fever. Also, the sun shines right on my window for the majority of the day producing a radiating heat on one side of my room like that of an open oven door, but I have blackout curtains to help with that. They work great, but now I am stuck in a little room in the dark, because oh yeah, the power company has been issuing “Flex Alerts” where everyone is supposed to turn off all the power they can between 2 and 5 so that the mass use of air conditioning does not cause a blackout. I am essentially doing the opposite of what you should be doing for any kind of depression.
Dealing with debilitating depression
But wait - there’s more! You see, I am in a weird place in life, a place I don’t want to be, and a place that is causing me really bad depression as it is. Mix that with everything I just described above? It’s the perfect storm. I have never dealt with such a severely debilitating depression in my life. I am doing everything I can to combat it, but more often than not, I just can’t overcome it. So, I am finally in contact with a therapist for counseling to deal with some of the “ME issues,” and then I am going to see a psychiatrist about possibly changing my medication, increasing the dose of the one I am on, or adding something else into the mix because obviously something more than just the stuff going on in my life is hitting me pretty hard, so I need to attack this from all the angles I can.
Lacking motivation to exercise
Because right now, in this weather, it’s not like I can go for a nice, thoughtful, endorphin-producing walk. Sure, I can do some exercising in my room, and I do as much as I can, but sometimes I am just too depressed to do anything, especially when it is warm in my room. And a lot of the time when I do consistently exercise? I don’t feel any less depressed because it still feels like the sun is close enough to throw a rock at. So, all I end up wanting to do is lie down and try to sleep away the day.
MS and summer depression is brutal
It’s a terrible mix for me, and it drives me mad when I see people on Facebook in other parts of the country or the world talking about how much they love summer and all the fun stuff they are doing that is simply not an option for me. Then in the winter, everyone is complaining because they have to deal with something that I want. Something I love. Something I don’t have. When I see all the pictures online and hear everyone talking about all this stuff, I feel like that one guy who could not make it to a huge party that he really wanted to go to. I have said it many times before: I do not belong in California, and I can’t wait to get back out because these summers are just too much for me. I can’t live out my life with this kind of summer depression and the limits it causes me.
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