Welcome to the fourth installment of the Hidden Disabilities House of Horrors: The Dark Side. Of the year, to be precise. The Autumnal Equinox that occurred a month ago–the shifting of the balance of light and dark to more dark than light. And the ultimate horror: the time change that will occur on November 3.
I know people who don’t rejoice in the flood of light that comes with summer, who don’t embrace waking to bright sunlight and don’t enjoy playing outside long into the evening. They’re the same people who start ordering pumpkin spice lattes in August and who start posting fall memes in September before summer is officially over. I bite down on my negativity and try not to chastise, but I never make it long. If those people were with me in real life, I would want to trip them as they walk by. Instead, I make snarky comments to their posts.
Even the healthiest, most October-loving people suffer from the fall time change. Suddenly they’re going home from work in the dark. It induces a jet-lag-like condition and you feel sleep-deprived for weeks.
It’s worse for people with chronic pain and other disabling conditions. The tiredness becomes exhaustion, the aches become active pain, and I even get migraines from the sudden drop in air pressure that precedes my region’s fall storms. Wet leaves on the ground increase the danger of falling. I even get blurred vision for a month as my eyes adjust to lower light. With bad weather comes less exercise. The metabolism slows and the holiday treats ensure that weight is a constant struggle. Excess weight increases my pain.
Dang, even I’m sick of listening to me complain by now. But all these people twittering on about how October is their favorite month! October is Mother Nature’s way of luring us with pretty colors before chaining us to a radiator in the basement for 3 months. October is the harbinger of November. November is nobody’s favorite month.
I’m relatively untouched by the turning of the clocks, as I work at home and my day begins at sunrise either way. By December I feel like the day is half over when the sun comes up (and it’s dark night by late afternoon), but I live my life by the cycle of the sun no matter what the clock says. I still hate the time change.
There’s a lot of talk about abolishing Daylight Savings Time. I would be in favor of a uniform time throughout the year, but I would do away with Standard Time instead. If we didn’t have DST, in my part of the country, the sun would be up by 4 AM in July and we’d lose those glorious summer evenings where there’s still a glow in the sky at 10. Those hours of morning sunlight would be wasted. Better to endure late mornings in December and have a little light left in the sky while you’re making dinner.
I was shocked to find out that places like Florida have less seasonal variation in time throughout the year. It makes perfect sense; I did know about the Equator and all, but I didn’t really get it until I visited Florida in June and the sun was down by 8:00. The horror! I don’t think I could live in a place that didn’t have long summer evenings. On the other hand, I could definitely handle it staying light out until 6:30 in December. I want it both ways, but can’t really have that unless I’m willing to play snowbird and move twice a year.
This year I tried to make a spiritual practice of embracing the turn of the seasons. I live on a beautiful country lot and it’s stunningly gorgeous here in every season (that tree in the picture is in my yard). I need to appreciate every turn of the wheel of the year. This one’s going to take more work. Maybe I’ll get it right next year.
Meanwhile, spring is on the way! Be patient, it always gets here eventually.
Are you affected by the lowering light and cooling temperatures? (It’s okay if you like it—I won’t bite… very hard.)