Overcoming SADness

Does your body get sad, even when you don’t? Does it respond to alterations in the light quota, even when there are few outward cues?

EquinoxMine does or (I should qualify) always has. Today is the autumn equinox and it took me over forty years to fully realise that my body always got sad on this particular day and, really, all around this day; taking a tumble that felt like an “odd” September health dip, year after year. That, for some reason, just as the small apple of the planet’s tilt sat poised, ready to tip over some unmarked line that, at first, subtly altered the northern hemisphere’s quota of light from the big orange of the sun into “less than” its dark portion for the next few months, my body went into pain and my overal state of health seemed to loose its morale. Year after year, my health, my energy levels and even my mood would seem to take a down turn from this point in the calender, only to return to “itself” in the spring.

Today, writing this at the very moment this is happening, even as radiant sunlight pours through my window belying the fact (though I notice how it took much longer to skim the rooftops today), I marvel at how my body knows without my having considered it until just now as I saw it flagged in my diary…but it does. When I woke, all my pain triggers were firing off, though there is no other reason; my skin burning with the oversensitivity of the kind of allodyndia that makes my clothes hurt, my head is ringing loud, there are digestive changes, my teeth and jaw are hurting, my knee joins are aching and sciatica flaring me into the semblance of an old woman compared to how I was a week ago.

It’s no coincidence…its happened before, every year.

To be fair, I have an equivalent reaction on the Spring equinox; although it is less of a plunge into aches and more of a feeling of being prematurely fired-up, like when you are woken too abruptly, an alarm going off too loud in your ear; an overwhelming feeling that takes some adjustment. Both events require that I allow myself time to settle down and settle in and I have learned to keep my diary empty at these times. These events unsteady me; my hard-earned equilibrium gets thrown into disarray but, once through them, I tend to settle down somewhat.

Another explanation for why these events might trigger me is my profound sensitivity to electro-magnetic weather events (another of my foibles, written about many times), since equinoxes cause cracks in the magnetosphere; the earth’s magnetic shield. Increased space weather events, such as northern lights, caused by solar winds pouring through into the earth’s atmosphere are typical around these dates and I have been able to track my health ups-and-downs in line with such events for several years. A solar wind is currently headed this way, expected today.

Yet, inside of my head, I’m on the up trajectory. In general, I’m in a great and positive place; feeling creative, enjoying more time to myself than I’ve had for months, having lots of ideas and with things to look forward to. Yes, I even relish autumn weather and colours these day; the cosiness of the hearth, the smell of burning wood, the call for woollens, crisp walks in woodland, early morning mists…Last year was the breakthrough with all that; it was a truly great autumn transition, my best in many years and proof that it is possible. Having broken the association with “back to school”, I am free at last to embrace this beautiful season to explore the darker end of the year through new eyes.

Today, my body doesn’t seem to know that; it sends off the alarm bells as normal…yet I over-ride it with my mood. I notice and, perhaps bizarrely, I smile to myself as it does “its thing”. Because it feels alright now; I feel OK this time. Something has…and is…shifting on the inside of me and I feel like I have the reins of this at last.

Yes, there are things you can do to make SAD more bearable; and I do them all, have written about them before. But what I’m also learning to embrace is the very traits that seem so challenging (dark, cold, days of endless rain and muddy skies, lack of energy, desire to sleep more at inconvenient times…and, for me, more pain, more exhaustion, more sensory trigger factors), looking for their pluses, finding the real joy in those very traits since I know they are inevitably on the agenda. I’m learning to work with the dark side of my canvas, just as I have long appreciated its lighter side; to see its beauty, understand its worth, in and of itself.

It’s just so fascinating, given all that and just how positive I now feel about this time of the year, to witness my body go through its paces anyway. I notice and I smile; not unkindly but with understanding and, yes, amazement that it realises what it does. How odd, you might say, that the human body “knows” such things as when equinoxes occur or solar winds arrive in the atmosphere though, I would say, how odd to assume that it doesn’t. How arrogant to expect that something so natural, so grounded on the planet would be so unaware of what affects every living thing. How remarkable is it that it notices and warns me, even through all the cacophony of modern life. I am in awe of my human body for its flawless perception, I really am. Its a beautiful part of the super-sensitivity that makes me, sometimes (or often!), the fairly oddball person that I am but I am newly appreciating all of that as an Asperger’s trait; seeing how it is only deemed to be flawed in the context that it is different to (not less than) neurotypical. I respect and am made curious by these inbuilt traits of mine; in fact they have never commanded so much respect or fascination from me as they do now.

Yet…at the same time…and  though my sensitivities may go through their paces, I also choose to direct with my mind’s focus where I want to go this time; taking aches and pains in my stride, just as I might a drop in the temperature on a day with no hat. What can I do? I do what I can do and then I get on with my chosen focus for the day. I self-correct my awarenesses through the power of the mind and, somehow, that tension creates its own personal equinox; a beautiful experience of poise…on the inside.

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