Seasonality – or rather the lack of it!

4 seasons

We’ve all heard of SAD ( Seasonal Affective Disorder), and having been born in the dreary climate of northern England, I can testify to the debilitating effects of grey weather and short winter days. Add to this the ‘health lobby’s’ continual mantra about the damage of the sun’s rays and little wonder the lack of vitamin D may affect some people badly. On that point I note that we are now being exhorted to getting back into the sun, as Rickets has once again entered the childhood illness lexicon, and sunshine and vitamin D are known to reduce blood pressure. Funny that!

But let’s expand the season’s argument a little more towards the pleasure and joy they should bring.
Well I find increasingly that they don’t bring joy – in fact they bring nothing. It just feels like they no longer exist. Think beyond the weather. We are all guilty of deferring to the ‘availability heuristic’ that tells me that because we’ve had two or three bad winters on the bounce, that the climate really is worse. I suspect we’d find it actually hasn’t become so. But forget the weather and think more about what the season’s used to mean.
Firstly, we can get almost any food on tap whenever we want. So the joy (and I mean it) of fresh strawberries in the summer has lost all its allure. Bah! – we can get ‘em anytime. Ditto almost any vegetable – all of which are by definition seasonal. My mother used to get excited over New Jersey Potatoes – a once a year summer treat. Now they sit waiting to be bought 24/7. There are many who would say woo hoo! – how fantastic – who wants to go back to the bad old days. Well me for one. You see everything starts to lose its specialness.

More examples – football ended at Easter in schools, and the last term heralded cricket and athletics. Now soccer is almost all year, – all weather surfaces mean anything can be played all year. So at a stroke it takes away that specialness that comes with waiting and anticipating. And it’s not just the playing – it’s the watching too. Cricket is played almost all year by the major nations – sometimes like 2013/14 we have two Ashes series almost weeks apart. To me it dilutes the specialness of the event.

Spring for me was always associated with The Masters at Augusta. The azaleas and dogwoods, the birds singing, all heralded the start of summer. But now amongst all the 7 day sports 365 a year, it has lost its lustre and magic.
Christmas it seems begins after Wimbledon – a marketing man’s dream. But a joy killer for everyone who valued it when it held simplicity and when present-buying commenced a week before. Even the day was sullied by the loss of ‘The Big Film’ at 9pm before video arrived.

And what has this to do with Bipolar? Well just as 24/7 availability destroys that specialness I’ve described, so does the specialness associated with being Bipolar. What! – I hear you say. Well yes. Let me explain – it’s become the default diagnosis for all things mental, or so it seems to me. It’s diluted the currency. I want to be part of a persecuted minority! I don’t want this cursed condition belittled into a ‘oh yes I think my last boyfriend was Bipolar’ tripped off by someone who hasn’t a Scooby, but thinks it sounds plausible. The more it’s diagnosed so loosely the less serious it becomes, and the less attention it gets. It’s a bloody burden to have it, and to hear others blithely ‘diagnosing’ others off the cuff is enough to send anyone into depression!

Bah humbug as Scrooge might have said.

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