Every so often in Florida I heard about “seasonal affective disorder,” whether from people who believed they indeed had a clinical seasonal depression or just suffered the “winter blues.”
Wikipedia says that this is common in Scandinavians—but of course, in Scandinavia, the shortness of days eliminates all but a few hours of sunlight. In America, we’re just talking about weather: in most parts of the country, it gets grayer and wetter in fall and winter.
The thing I’ve noticed is that I haven’t heard anyone really talk about that here in California, but it was common for me to hear about it in Florida. Sometimes it was cited as a reason that the sufferer liked Florida more than wherever up north they came from; frequently it was cited as something they still suffered from, but just on a temporary basis. Take away their sunshine for a short time and they were depressed and mopey.
But, here’s the interesting thing, psychologically. My mom tells me of a coworker who moved to Florida from the Seattle area and always used to talk about how much more she liked Seattle. After living in Florida for a few years she visited Seattle for a couple weeks, and when she came back, all she could talk about was how much she hated the weather there. “Always gray and rainy.”
And, as I sit here watching the first real rain of the season here in San Jose, I wonder whether SAD—whether or not it’s clinical—is actually aided by places like Florida, rather than rainy places like the Pacific Northwest. You become used to the weather that you live with, mentally accustomed to it. If rain is something you see as interfering with your plans, it’s going to depress you. If it’s something you simply plan around—or even plan for—it’s a different matter. (If you’re Steve Jobs, you make an iTunes Essentials album about it—which I’m listening to now. I suspect that link only works for iTunes users, of course.)
When I first moved out here I had many people tell me that California doesn’t really have seasons, to which I can only say that either they’ve never lived in a place with no seasons or they’ve forgotten what it was like. In the last couple of weeks the leaves have been turning colors, and this last weekend the temperature dropped noticeably. And I wouldn’t have to go that far north and east of where I am to hit snow country. There are certainly parts of California where the season change is nominal—along the north coast, the difference between winter and summer average temperatures is about ten degrees—but this isn’t one of those places.
With Claw & Quill launched (and happily running), I think I’m going to go out and play in the rain a little, and come back—or even stay out for a little bit—to work on my web portfolio and get writing on the review of Nisus Writer Express I was threatening to do last month.