You know, people just don’t seem to understand why it is I hate spring and summer so much. They probably think, “Oh he’s just a winter kind of guy…” Well sadly, it’s not just that. There are specific things that happen to me in the spring and summer which emphasize my hatred for those seasons. Let me break it down for you…
A year after my family moved to Virginia, I developed allergies. I was 7 years old. As the years have passed those allergies have gotten worse and worse. I have been on allergy shots, I have taken more allergy medications that most people and nothing really provides any comfortable level of relief. So what do I experience now as an allergy sufferer?
Between early/mid-March running through early/mid-June I suffer from the following:
- Severe post-nasal drip – imagine an almost un-ending flow of mucous running down the back of your throat, to the point it feels you’re drowning. As as result I am coughing and gagging most especially in the morning when I wake up and around sunset, because of this horrendous flow of gunk.
- Itchy Eyes, Sneezing and Itchy Throat – Pretty much self-explanatory, definitely not a good time. People wonder if I had been punched in the eye sometimes because they’re so puffy and red.
- Ear aches + Dizziness – My ears fill up with fluid to the point where my eardrums become inverted. The sinuses are so overloaded with stuff that I begin suffering dizziness from time to time, sometimes that can degrade to severe dizziness where I can’t even walk. At times my ears are so full of gunk, it impacts my hearing, and can be accompanied by tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
- Sinus Migraines – What starts out as a mild headache in my forehead and behind my eyes can often degrade into a full blown migraine level headache with incapacitating results. I can’t look at anything bright, the pain and pressure becomes almost unbearable.
- Sinus Infections – All that gunk up in my sinuses that can’t get out turns bad and bacteria move in and start causing mayhem. Sinus infections totally suck the life out of you – you feel like you are just at death’s door. You have no energy, even doing the simplest chore is a struggle.
- Allergy Induced Bronchitis/Pneumonia – When that bacteria move down into my chest things go from bad to worse as I develop bronchitis relatively easily now thanks to allergies. If the variety of bacteria are immune to the antibiotic I take, well, then I end up with pneumonia. This has happened twice in the past six years – and keep in mind this is LIFE THREATENING!
- Bloody Nose – As the trauma increases to the tissues of my nose, including bacterial infection, my nose begins to bleed on a regular basis, and takes a while to stop.
In the summer, while my allergy season comes to an end and my symptoms slowly improve over a period of a month or so, now I suffer something completely different. It’s called Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder (RSAD). This is the opposite of the disorder that people have in the winter called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People with SAD get depressed in the winter because of the shorter days, a lot of darkness because of cloudy days and the colder temperatures. However people with RSAD have the same problem but in the summer months. Researchers have found it to be a biological condition where the longer, brighter, warmer, days contribute to the feeling of depression, fatigue and just an overall sense of not feeling well. They find that in people with RSAD light exposure triggers a signal from the retina in the eye to the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the brain’s pacemaker. That signal then gets relayed in a round-about fashion to the pineal gland (a small endocrine gland which produces melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and photoperiodic (seasonal) functions). The pineal gland then secretes melatonin (also known as the “darkness hormone” and too much of that (caused by excess light) or if the secretion is out of phase with sleep-wake signals, this is theorized as the cause for a season affective disorder. So I end up feeling depressed and washed out in summer. There are some days when it is so hot I literally feel like I have lead weights strapped to my body, and my heart rate goes flying just walking from my car to my apartment. The heat just sucks the life out of me, I have a depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and agitated rather than lethargic. My mood changes dramatically when summer comes, I am a lot more irritable and emotional. While working at home in my super air conditioned apartment is a plus – I still have to go out into that sweltering mess from time to time.
There really is no treatment for RSAD other than staying inside, away from the heat, and hanging out with people who also have this disorder. For the most part, being social and trying your best not to be grumpy is the order of the day, everyday. It’s very hard because this is a biological disorder that you have very little control over, if at all.
This winter was a bad one for me. It was as if the RSAD never fully went away. We had significantly warmer days, very little snow. When the really cold temperatures came in, I felt relief, but that was quickly snuffed out as all winter long we were on this temperature roller coaster. One day it would be 34 degrees, the next 57, the next 39, the next 62, the next 25, the next 56. That up and down nonsense wreaked havoc to my sinuses. I had more sinus related infections because of this, and ended up with a cold during a time that I rarely, if ever, get colds. It is now the end of February and rather than my allergy season starting in early/mid-March – it started in mid-February (a week ago) as pollen counts began to soar among the 65-70 degree temperatures. They say because of the lack of significant snow here in Virginia, the allergy season could be the worst seen in a decade.
Oh boy! I hope I survive this one. I have already had bronchitis once in January and now I have it again in February (as I write this). And that plus the pollen count going up equals bad every way you look at it.
Now you know why in the spring and summer I am miserable, irritable and not a very happy person. And also why I am so miserable and upset when winter doesn’t behave like winter – with consistently cold days for 3-4 months, lots of snow and no allergies. Now I hope you understand the suffering I deal with every spring and summer and you can throw aside your original thought of, “oh he’s just a winter kind of guy…” I am a winter kind of guy, but sadly the world can’t remain in winter all year long. That would be heaven.