Last week was Holy Week. It’s almost always a week for me to feel even more somber than I am usually. A week for acedia. For me, it’s always seemed more about the Crucifixion than the Resurrection. Perhaps that’s because I’m a dysthymic—a depressive.
A good friend of mine is plagued by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For him, Autumn is THE season –the season of sadness. The long shadow of shorter days signal the coming of Winter and a time of melancholy and despair. Life hibernates. Winter is a season to be endured.
SAD is now understood primarily as a biological illness triggered by reduced hours of daylight resulting in a change in the pineal hormone melatonin. One can now buy melatonin supplements over the counter to help with sleep. But the primary treatment for SAD is exposure to very bright full-spectrum lighting. These lights can be bought in specialty stores or over the internet.
There is also a phenomena called an “anniversary reaction.” Folks who’ve lost a close loved one will often have a brief depressive episode around the date of their loved one’s death. This reaction is heightened if it occurs around a holiday. One might feel sad at Christmas decades later—not realizing that a parent died in December.
It occurred to me last week that my sadness during Holy Week may have to do with my mother. She was seriously bipolar and she had many of her breakdowns around Easter. Though she passed away 15 years ago, she kept popping into my thoughts last week. A photo of her from 1963, taken in the backyard of our house in Las Cruces dressed up for church flashed thru my mind. She was wearing a stylish hat. Perhaps, it was for Easter or Mother’s Day.
And as a counselor my business usually booms during the Spring months of March, April and May. Over the years many folks have asked me why that is, and I have no better answer than “it’s when the sap is flowing”—it’s my facetious way of saying it has something to do with the seasons, life’s cycles and with biological change.
Or as Solomon noted in Ecclesiastes three millennia ago:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven,
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot. . .
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.