I Feel Guilty About Being Sad In The Summer

Do I have some kind of reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Publish date:
July 3, 2014
mental health, summer, seasonal affective disorder

For every summer since puberty, I've always been plagued with unshakeable bouts of the blues. Where most people find themselves feeling cranky, sad and groggy in the dark months of winter, I find myself turning into a sullen hermit when the temperatures rise.

I think the biggest cause of my summer sadness is the expectations. For three months, you're bombarded with invitations to parties, barbecues, weddings and countless other social functions. The days are longer, with the sun shining in the sky, beaming down as if to say, "Why aren't you having fun?!"

It's not that I have social anxiety in regards to all of the summer shindigs, it's just that it gets to be so exhausting. And when you decide to stay in, with the comfort of air conditioning and a fridge packed with cold beer, it only takes a few clicks on Facebook and Instagram to see what seems like practically everyone else having the time of their life. Without you. And so the pressure sets in -- gotta go out, gotta make an appearance, gotta have "fun" -- and the cycle starts all over again.

Aside from the expectations, there's also always some sort of lingering negativity that plagues me at the beginning of summer. For the last few years, I've had absolutely terrible Junes. The month is so miserable that it overshadows the rest of the season and no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to shake it. I am trying to take care of myself though, but it can seem so forced. When there are those days that I need to take the time to just feel sad and to cope, my guilt sets I'm because I think I ought to be off floating in a pool somewhere or drinking beers on a patio with friends. For as long as the days may be this time of year, it feels like there's hardly any time to do or feel anything.

But there has to be a happy medium between being a total recluse and going out all the time, right? At the very least, I make myself go out everyday. Even if I have no plans to see friends, I go to the grocery store, I grab a coffee, I simply walk through the neighbourhood and soak up vitamin D and smell my neighbours' flowers. I remember the summer I was 16, I once went two weeks without leaving the house. Now I know that even though I'm feeling low, I can't return to those patterns again.

I'm getting better at pushing myself, but I still feel that nagging annoyance every year, that voice that says I'm not doing enough to make the right memories. I've brought up my summer seasonal affective disorder query with a doctor before and he mostly brushed it off as silly. The summertime is supposed to make people happy, he said, which made me feel even more ridiculous. And it is a bit ridiculous, really. Every winter, when I'm stomping through slush in my parka I always tell myself, "Things will be so much better in the summer!" but when the time comes I'm so underwhelmed.

I know I can't be the only one, either. So tell me, do you feel the same way in the summertime, or are you a wintertime SAD-sufferer? And if you are experiencing summertime sadness, how are you combating it? Should I just start spending my afternoons in dog parks? Probably.