Monday, January 17, 2011

Caffeine-less in Seattle

I know, I know ... the last thing we need is one more play on this obscenely over-referenced movie title, but it makes my point perfectly because ...

It's January in the Northwest, and I honestly can't remember the last time I saw the sun. It probably wasn't that long ago, but this is the effect of the heavy wool blanket we call Seattle winter. Even when it's dry, it wrings damp with weather-memory.

What I want most at the moment is to sleep. When I wake up, it's dark (even if daylight has arrived, it's dark) and my eyelids are leaden and I want to go back to dreaming. In the evenings, my mind is heavy and dull. I watch TV even when there's nothing on, casting an occasional glance toward my office, right next to the TV room. It's filled with projects I could be working on, projects that once seemed exciting, urgent, necessary ... but the distance seems too far and tiresome to cross.

My mind sends up an alarm: Where's my motivation? Could this be depression? I've been told I have seasonal affective disorder (such a stretch, in this part of the country). And this year I am attempting a winter without chemical antidepressants or Seattle's version, coffee. Trying instead the approach of optimal nutrition, a few critical supplements, very little sugar, plenty of exercise.

So I run through my internal checklist: I am not weepy or overly negative. I do not feel short-tempered and irritable. I am sleeping and eating in healthy amounts; going out with friends or to exercise does not seem to require a superhuman effort. No, I am not depressed.

I am just ... sleepy. My mind does not feel as alert as it did a few months ago, after a few months of sun. I am firing on fewer cylinders. I am, perhaps, more inclined to pluck the low-hanging pun than to reach for a sparklier, more original blog-post title. I am feeling a little less ... um ... perfect. Most days, a little less inclined even to try to "do it all."

But I am up, and moving, and working, and a casual observer probably wouldn't know the difference. So the question is, just for now, can I accept my greyer, fuzzier mornings and evenings? Can I accept that I might need a full eight hours of sleep (OK, nine) instead of seven, just for a while? Can I set aside those "extra" projects without guilt? Just until they call to me again?

Must I curse the weather and pathologize my inner response? Call it a sinister name, vow to defeat it with harsh chemicals, artificial light, and caffeine? Or can I just accept what is, today, for now?


  1. Listen to your body. It knows. It's time to hibernate.

    I dream of being able to live in these rhythms one day. I know they make sense. Stores that stay open 24 hours do not.

  2. I love the word "hibernate" and have used it often recently during this particular NW winter season. Just today, a friend and I had a conversation about the cave people. We were discussing the good possibility that those living in cooler climates did, indeed, hibernate, eating less, sleeping much more and staying in the warm caves, rather than venturing out very often into the cold and gray.

    I don't believe we were designed to excel during these winter days. It's just too tough. Survival, two more months, that's the goal! Love ya