Today I want to talk about a weird concept.
See, I know that seasonal depression is a thing. When the cold weather, dull colour palette and typical illness that comes with winter triggers a multiple month long depressive episode. Especially where I live in England, where it currently rarely ever even snows during the Christmas period, it’s just ice cold and very wet. And it’s true. I hate winter. I hate being freezing cold, I hate it when blustery showers whip rain into my face, I hate that it goes dark at about 4pm, and I hate having the flu.
In my head I call that being ‘negatively uncomfortable.’ I call it that because I also complain in the summer because I don’t like overheating, I don’t like sweating and being sticky, and I don’t like having to sit at work looking out at the hot weather knowing that by the time my shift is over, the day will also be. But it’s what I call being ‘positively uncomfortable’, because I actually enjoy summer.
But that last complaint bring me nicely to my next point, which is this: is seasonal derealisation a thing?
Derealisation is the feeling of being disconnected from reality, that my surroundings are not actually there, or that I am not a part of what is going on around me. Kind of like zoning out, except I’m not zoned out. It’s a symptom of depression, and I experience it the most during summer.
I work at the reception desk of a casino, facing the glass door. Actually that whole wall is made of glass. And I think this wall is what triggers it.
The inside of the casino is dark. Well, I say dark. There are lights on inside. Many lights, now that I think about it. But it is still noticeably darker inside that it is outside, or in any regular office or business building. It’s hard to tell being inside, because the only window is the glass wall at the entrance. It’s like this on purpose; the building is designed to keep customers inside for as long as possible, and having mid-level lighting and no windows blurs the passage of time.
A few feet from where I’m sitting is the glass wall and revolving door.
As I write this, it’s bright outside on the other side of the glass. It’s very bright. Sunlight is bouncing off multiple cars, the gravel is bone dry. There’s a soft breeze rustling the trees. It’s quiet, with only a few cars passing by on occasion. I can’t really hear the wind because of the music playing inside. Every now and then, a member of staff will come in to start their shift, or a customer to gamble or get food (but only the regulars).
The separation that happens inside my head because of the difference in visual cues on the different sides of the entrance causes derealisation. Because I am inside the casino, where it’s kind of dark, and the sunny weather is on the outside. Like a TV. Like an advert for a holiday resort, if that resort were a car park.
I’m not derealised now. Maybe that’s because the sliding disabled access door is locked open, allowing some of the outside world to seep in by way of fresh air and humidity. Maybe it’s because the course of antidepressants I’m taking a break from have actually helped. It could also be because writing this post is keeping me grounded and involved, or simply because this environment doesn’t trigger the derealisation every single time.
And besides, I like sunny weather and I’m not going to let mental zone-out stop me from enjoying it.