07 December 2023

The SAD time of year

If you read my post yesterday and readers' comments, you might not be surprised to see that I've written about the wintertime blues before. Here's a link to a fairly short post I published in early December of 2007, when I had just returned to gloomy Saint-Aignan after a trip to the blindingly bright and sunny North Carolina coast.

Here's a link to a Mayo Clinic web page about SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. I think I'm having a bad case of it this year. Maybe that's because the summer was so sunny, dry, and hot, from May until October. Then the annual winter rains came early and it has rained nearly all the time since then.

Also, the hours of darkness are long. Today the sun will rise at 8:27 a.m. and set at 5:04 p.m. That's about eight hours of daylight for us, out of 24 hours.

According to a French weather and climate site that I've started following — here's a link — in this part of France, we had nearly 220 hours of sunshine last September. We had nearly 75 hours (!) of sunshine in all of November. No wonder I feel a little moody. The 2007 post I linked to above clued me in when I stumbled upon it this morning.

In December 2007, I was mystified to find myself not enjoying good food the way I usually do and almost always have. I've noticed that same SAD symptom for the past couple of months. Now I have to figure out what to do about it.


  1. Ken, I can't stand the winter's long hours of dark, and not much better in the day if it is cloudy/raining.
    I use Full-spectrum Daylight 100W equivalent bulbs for drawing and painting.... and I find they are far nicer in winter as a reading/music listening light than the "warm" LED bulbs.... they aren't cheap, but they do work for me.... I can't find the make I have, I bought them from an art shop in the UK when I buried my brother in 2017.
    These are new on the market and are controlled by the light switch....
    Far more complex than my simple one, and around three times the price.
    SAD is horrible to live with.... and I noticed that when I had my house in the far north of Scotland, I tended to migrate to the pub far too early, too much!! In Summer, I often only made last orders!!

  2. I am probably a lucky person because SAD is completely foreign to me. Basically, I am optimistic and that might be the reason. I am really sorry for those people who are affected by it.

  3. Recognize what is happening, and work on it. A few more weeks and the light will return. Time to plan the garden.

  4. That's difficult, Ken.
    My husband finds help using a special light... I guess that's the full-spectrum light treatment. His is pretty small, about 6 inches square. The best time to use it, is to start the day with it... you could have it on in your early morning blog-writing sessions. Read up on it, and Google around for a light. It really does help (or, better yet, have Walt Google around, too... in case you start to feel overwhelmed and thinking it can't really be of help... you know, that's SAD interfering with the thinking process :) ).

  5. I definitely have it. In college my second semester grades were always better than the first. I dread Christmas every year because I don't have as much energy as I need. By January 14th I feel so much better! I'm an optimist btw, but just feel foggy and overwhelmed this time of year. I do enjoy the lights that are everywhere now during the holiday season. They light up the night and I enjoy night walks. I've tried the full spectrum lights but didn't see much change although I love them on a rainy day. Hang in there, Ken and let us know when you start to feel better.

  6. I find that exercise always helps elevate my mood. The endorphins, you know. If that doesn't work I suggest pouring some eggnog (the kind with alcohol in it) or cognac and watching a musical - like The Music Man or My Fair Lady or Sound of Music. Or an epic like Last Emperor, Dr. Zhivago. Make sure you have some See's Candies to nosh on while you watch the movie. ;-)

  7. Good ideas all. Thanks to all of you, by the way. Just knowing there's a reason for my moodiness and low morale helps a lot. I will certainly look forward to springtime.


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