Hearing about the plight of Seasonal Affective Disorder makes me wonder if there is such a thing as Nightly Affective Disorder, in which case I would like to volunteer as a case study.
Something…happens when I’m swathed by darkness and the cool night breezes. Sometimes, I’m simply more prone to tears, as well as laughter. Other times, the anxiety and despair inside me, usually dispersed and unnoticed during the day, congeals into something too real, something I can feel in my gut — a cool dark pit. And it consumes me. It devours.
Sometimes I can identify the assailant, though it’s usually multifaceted and enigmatic: the weight of loneliness one day, the terror of mortality the next. But when my breath is stolen by seemingly nothing, nothing I can describe or name, I think that’s the worst of all.
But in the morning, there is none of that. I wake up and remember the terror, of course, recognize it as one still sees the dark remnant of an evaporated puddle. But it is very much nonexistent by the time the birds sing. It’s probably why I so often feel born anew in the mornings.
My current English teacher, in one of his long and frequent tangents, said that adolescent life has extreme emotional highs and lows, in such short periods. “On Wednesday you’re at the prime peak of your life; two days later you’re in the pits.” In adulthood, he says, the full spectrum still exists, but the highs and lows last longer. He said it was partly because nothing quite compares to the emotional experience of becoming a parent. The devotion to children is so strong that everything seems lukewarm in comparison.
“When you’re a teenager, you walk in a room, see a stranger and–” He slipped his hand under the loose sweater vest he was wearing to imitate a pounding, protruding heartbeat.
The class roared with laughter, but my friend and I did most of all, as guilty victims of such an affliction.
“If you were like that all the time, people wouldn’t be able to stand you,” he continued. “You wouldn’t be able to stand you.”
“Is that really a bad thing — ” one girl started to ask, but the class shouted her down: “Yes, it is.”
I’m sort of daunted — and intimidated — by such a notion: that in adulthood, the vacillations of emotion stretch out. That of course means longer highs, but what of the lows? In that respect, I am fearful. Of course I’m afraid. I have known the vacillations for so long that I understand almost nothing else.
But during his speech, I remember leaning forward in my seat slightly. Because as long as the full color of emotion is available, I’m somewhat willing for this maturation to happen. Because in some respects, it sounds like sweet, sweet relief.