Cabin Fever and My Summer Depression

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. You see, I have also talked about depression a couple times as it is an important part of my life that I have been dealing with longer than I have MS and 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.

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). 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 and it is especially 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. 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! As well, 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 black out 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 black out. I am essentially doing the opposite of what you should be doing for any kind of depression

Cabin fever and 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 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.

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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Comments

View Comments (12)
  • bunnyhas2
    2 years ago

    I totally get what you are saying. Cabin fever stinks!! I need to live in a cooler climate.
    Getting out real early in the mornings do help.
    Because of my heat intolerance I miss out on alot, as we all do. It can be depressing but ya got to do what is best for your health. So I chill at home in the cranked up AC and invite people to my house.

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    Yeah, right now mornings are all I get but sometimes I just CAN NOT get myself out of bed in time! So my social life in the summer is pretty much all online.

  • tinribs
    2 years ago

    Hi Matt, I can understand some of your issues. I’m in the Seattle area where we don’t have nearly the heat or sun, but when we do, we have no AC. At least I don’t. I retreat to my basement and that helps a lot, but when we start having a summer heat wave like we are now, the basement starts to get pretty warm too. Added to my MS issues of heat intolerance and depression, I am allergic to the sun. So when I do go outside, I have to wear long sleeves, long pants, gloves and a hat. I have some amazing Sun protection clothing from Sun Precautions, which at least lets me go outside, but not in this heat.

    One saving grace I have found is my cooling vest. I got one from Polar Products. It has “ice” packs that keep your torso nice and cool. I recently had to do some business in eastern Oregon when it was in the 90’s and it made things much more tolerable.

    When I really get cabin fever, I do try to get out early in the morning. Evenings can still be pretty warm when the earth is holding all the day’s heat, but if you get out just after the sun comes up, you can get that cooler fresh air and some daylight. (sometimes) That does help me….when I can get myself to get up and move.

    I have been thinking of calling my psychiatrist too, to up my “happy” pills (as my husband calls them), because I have been much more down than usual this summer. There are a lot of factors adding to the issue right now for me. And I am glad that you are seeing a therapist. I do think they can help, if nothing else than to be able to talk to someone about what’s going on in our brains/bodies. And I think posting here is good too. Get it out!

    I get pretty frustrated when I say something about the heat and my husband just says, “feels good to me!”. Ya…that helps. :p

    Hang in there Matt. Fall is just around the corner!

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    I love Washington. Wherever I move I am buying a portable A/C for just in case. I have a cooling vest and it is good for 80’s-90’s but once you hit 110-115 it really does not help. So I stay locked up inside and go out in the morning when I can get myself out of bed.

  • Juleigh
    2 years ago

    Matt, I sure hope you can move to a better climate for your health soon!! I’m worried about you! You’re still young and you’re describing 2 serious conditions you’re dealing with. I hope you’re surrounded by love and support! I’ve had MS for 10 years now. My family just moved into a home that’s much better suited for me. Grab bars, higher toilets, 36 inch doors where I might need them- basically first floor living for me. The upstairs is for the kids. It took me three years of “whining” about the stairs till this move happened. Make yourself the priority! When my husband and I decided to build, I made sure that we weren’t going to build a place that I felt totally claustrophobic in. We looked at some places that I would have gone mad trying to live in such a small downstairs. We ended up building a 1.5 story house. Perfect for everyone. I felt bad the day we left our 2-story colonial home. My youngest daughter took it pretty hard. (But now she has a real big bedroom right above the master so she isn’t complaining.) I hope you get the help you need and the energy to make the right move!!! It’s not easy but it will be so worth it! I’m not living in fear of the stairs anymore. You need to get out of that one room! If not this summer then by next summer. Make it a goal! It will hopefully lift your spirits and help both of the awful conditions you’re living with daily. Good luck to you!!! I’m rooting for you.

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    If I could move tomorrow I would. We live in a “split level” house so lots of stairs, I am sick of stairs but what ever. Keeping me “active” haha…

  • debrakay
    2 years ago

    Matt, You are describing my life exactly. I am north of San Francisco. I feel your pain.

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    it get’s pretty warm up there, hope you at least get that cool air from the bay! All the air here is dry and steady, especially being surrounded by a horseshoe of mountains! ARG

  • Kattrickle
    2 years ago

    Cabin fever you are definitely not alone. I have had an asaserbation for the past month and a half and am going boncers staying in the house to keep cool in California. But I also thank God that I do have air conditioning for if I didn’t my condition would be too too much for me to carry on. I like to go to casino, when I am there I sm in my comfort zone. Why you ask? Because it takes my mind off of things that get me down. Time flies by AND it is cool inside! I don’t really exercise. When I’m there I don’t think about moving and walking it just comes. Sometimes it is a little pricey, especially if the machines aren’t hitting. But I look at it like this, I am doing something that pleases me and brings me joy. You can’t take it with you when your gone so enjoy the small sacrifice you make to get some exercise in and enjoy doing it. I hope this helps to bring some “my” time to you.

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    I am glad you find joy in the casinos, something to keep your mind busy. I hate the casinos (personally), too much stimulation and too many smokers, plus I always played the tables and never knew when to stop. Well I did but I could never walk away, “just one more, one more”

  • Peri
    2 years ago

    Hi Matt,
    I totally empathize with your feelings of cabin fever in the summer as well as SAD; I get it like clockwork in the fall but your situation makes a lot of sense to me. My recommendation to you is to check with your local MS chapter for a listing of local classes and see if there are any hydrotherapy classes, preferably in the mornings to avoid hot afternoons in SoCal. I live in Denver and there are great hydrotherapy classes here, group swims and even lap times if needed. It’s a great way to get your endor”fins” going while staying cool and meeting fellow MS’ers. Hope it helps to get out of the house a little. Air conditioned libraries and movie theaters are other summer faves. Good luck,– Peri

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    The problem with that is getting to and from. I can’t drive anymore and Uber is not as big here as it is in Denver especially because everything in the desert is so spread out where every Uber ride I took in the springs was like 5 minutes and I am there haha

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