Monday, October 24, 2011

Sun Chart

Short days.
Long nights.

If there are too many dark, cloudy days in a row, a person with Seasonal Affective Disorder will become sad. A few years ago, I started keeping a sun chart. It doesn't change the weather, but it can change my expectations of myself.
A big "S" on a day means sunny. A "1/2 S" might mean a sunny morning or a sunny afternoon. A dash equals a cloudy day. I might write "minutes of sun" if there were a few times during the day when it was bright enough that trees left shadows.

This is not a chart about weather or my neighborhood or even reality. This is a chart about my own eyeballs. If it's a sunny day but I'm locked up at an all-day meeting in a windowless room, that day gets marked as No-Sun. If it's snowy and dark at home but I'm under sunbeams in central Illinois, the day is marked with a big fat S.

I can take Vitamin D3, but I can't shoo away clouds for the sun to shine through. I can, however, respond to lack of sun. If we've had three days of darkness, I can look at the chart and know that the first time Mr Sun peeks out, I better toss myself outdoors or at least plunk myself down in the big bay window. If the darkness persists and there's no sun to be had, I have to lighten up on the pressure of the to-do list. This translates into asking kids to clean the bathrooms, ignoring cobwebs, buying instafood for supper, and finding some hilarious movies to waste time on. It's the mental equivalent of a thermometer: a person might feel tired but be unable to tell whether it's sinful laziness or a viral infection. The thermometer clues you in. If it's viral, several naps might help. If it's sinful laziness, indulging oneself probably isn't a good plan. The sun chart can show me when it's a physiological weakness from sun-deficiency.

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