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Seasonal Affective Disorder Always Got the Best of Me Until I Saw ‘Inside Out’

gloomy day

I adore Daylight Savings Time. Having light in the late afternoon/early evening is pure bliss for me. Living in Atlanta, which really ought to be in the Central time zone based on location, it remains light until close to 10 p.m. in May/June, which is utterly fantastic! I don’t care that it’s hard to get my littler ones to sleep during the spring and summer months—I love going to sleep after Friday night Shabbat dinner while it’s still light out.

But fall and winter are a different story. I grew up in NYC, and when it would start to get dark at 4 p.m., I was instantly miserable. I would leave for school while it was still dark, only to go back home when it was dark again. I distinctly remember watching it grow dark outside while we were still in our last classes, feeling so sad.

Only much later on, when I was in college, did I begin to hear the term Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It described me perfectly.

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The more I became aware how my mood was in tandem with the seasons, the earlier I would begin to dread the months from November through February. Yet, I would be absolutely giddy with the approach of March 20th—the first day of spring, AKA the Best Day of the Year. However, by mid-June, when I knew the longest day of the year—the summer solstice, June 21—was approaching, I would start to feel sad again, knowing each day was getting shorter thereafter.

Seriously, it was ridiculous. There I was, mid-June in the Atlanta heat, lamenting how it would soon be November (complete with Guns N’ Roses’ “Cold November Rain” in my head).

Last fall, I was determined to do things differently. I made a concerted effort to look at all the gorgeous foliage in October, rather than focus on knowing the leaves would soon be on the ground. It worked, to a degree.

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But my efforts started to really take hold when my husband and I took our 11 and 8-year-old daughters to see “Inside Out” this past July. One of the movie’s core messages struck me as a perfect summation of what I have been working on: We all need to experience (and own) some sadness in order to appreciate joy.

As summer continues to pass and we get closer and closer to the transition to Standard Time, I know I need to focus on actually feeling OK about it. As much as I prefer Daylight Savings Time, I now realize if there were no cold, rainy days where it’s the same shade of grey at 9 a.m. and at 3 p.m., I would not fully appreciate the evenings when it’s still sunny at 8 p.m.

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And in the meantime, I will appreciate the buds on the trees even more right now.

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