The Science of Me

I am frequently amazed by my own obliviousness.

When morning sickness showed up within 72 hours of having conceived a child, I grumbled about having a tummy bug, because surely–surely–that was the only explanation for heaving in the morning, sharp spikes of fatigue mid-day, and an overall crummy feeling?

When three-day migraines plagued me without mercy (several a month), I chalked it up to genetics. Why should working a sixty-hour week and going to law school five nights a week have anything to do with headaches? Or why should commuting four hours a day, working full time and single-parenting?

I could go on about all the times I’ve gone smurfing along, ignoring information that might have helped me, because the only data I had to go on was my own experience.

And while I am older and wiser, I still have a way to go in terms of paying attention to my own on-going experiment in personhood.

I recently returned from a week in central Florida, where the temperature and humidity compete for biggest source of misery. I’ve been there before. Hated it. Hated the crowding, the lack of geological formations that orient me on the map (mountains, ya know), the lack of open space. I even disliked the sunlight, which felt glare-y to me. The people are lovely, but I could not get out of there fast enough.

I chalked it up to me being intolerant of change.

Then a writing buddy mentioned reverse seasonal affective disorder, (rSAD) which afflicts about one in ten people sporting the SAD diagnosis. Most of us know SAD as the winter blues, the cold weather blahs, but for me, summer is the dreaded time. The heat, the bugs (lordy I do hate me some house flies), the short nights that feel too lively to settle into, the humidity, the everything (except the flowers, I do love the flowers).

I read the linked article and thought, “That’s ME. That’s ME.” I’m pretty sure it’s also my daughter, and every horse I’ve ever met. I can’t wait for fall to arrive, and this weekend, when the temperature dipped into the low sixties at night, I actually cleaned my room.

I walked an extra quarter mile on the tread desk yesterday, when doing any time there at all has grown to be worse torture than ever.

Why did I wait to read an article referencing fancy academic studies to be OK with not liking summer? I know I perk up in the fall, and attributed it to “sleeping better when it cools off,” but summer blahs are a thing, and they are my thing. I can’t focus as well, I can’t rest as well, I can’t be me as well.

With that sentiment in mind, this will be my last blog post for a few weeks. I’m going to dive into my writing cave, get some research done (this is a euphemism for activity involving a suitcase), and REST.

But first, I’ll send an audiobook version of Too Scot To Handle to one commenter. What do you know about yourself–know, know, know–that eventually, science, medicine, or society might get the memo on?

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20 comments on “The Science of Me

  1. 1
    Mary T says:

    Well, I don’t know the answer to that last question, but I want to wish you a restful and productive few weeks. I just finished TOO SCOT TO HANDLE but I would still love to have an audiobook version. Enjoy yourself in the writing cave. We will all benefit from that (smile).

  2. 2

    I’ve just arrived home from the town of Margate which was lively and noisy and packed with many age groups of people enjoying the annual carnival the weather can be hot one minute and cool the next but it was perfect for the people taking part in the parade they had to walk 3 miles in fancy dress some outfits were very heavy and looked uncomfortable.I give praise to all who took part and collected pennies in their buckets,I know I could not do this in the summer the heat is just to much.But I do like and enjoy the sunshine and I do like seeing young and old having a fun day out.Being in this happy space is a tonic for me .I get out more in the summer but I tire more but I won’t give in.It’s a long long cold dark time here when winter comes.So plenty of time to rest then.I will take my chances so bring on the sunshine .Bring on the fun.Bye.

  3. 3

    Grace it was great sitting across from you at the RWA Literacy signing. I enjoyed the heat because I found the some of the workshops too cold. I’m glad you now understand your rSAD.
    Have fun in your cave.

  4. 4
    Ona says:

    Had a minor nervous breakdown last night. The world was clearly ending because….well, because, obviously it was. That’s why.

    I SHOULD have gone to bed. I am emphatically a morning person and need to be asleep pretty early to stay happy. After 6 pm my mood (generally pretty upbeat) rapidly plummets to perhaps-not-quite-clinically-actionable. This has ALWAYS been true of adult moi but in the postpartum period with Baby Dos, has been especially noticeable–also getting better with time.

    Of course the OTHER thing I conveniently ignored is that I’m back to work this week. I always, always break down a bit (husband would smile indulgently) at the beginning and end of a semester…but this time I’m back after eight months sabbatical and maternity leave AND I’m on rotation for evaluation this semester by a new boss.

    But of *course* none of that had anything to do with my carrying on. No no no.

    I do feel much better having sorted out the why’s of how I’m feeling.

    Have a wonderful time, Aunt Grace! Nobody deserves it more.

  5. 5
    Teenie Marie says:

    I am on vacation. Probably the last one with all three kids at the same time. We are at a place we love and have gone to off and on for 15 years. We do certain things leading up to the vacation, such as starting the dishwasher (with the coffee pot in so we have no white mold growing in the grounds when we get back)with any dishes on the way out and making sure the all storm door locks (in addition to the regular locks)are flipped as well. I have a whole list of things we do *on the way out*….well, I was a mess and a shaking puddle the days leading up to the vacation just thinking about getting all those things done in time to leave when we needed to. Unhappy and cranky. I don’t know why….I’ve been looking forward to this for several months. Maybe, perhaps, do you think it’s because it could be the last one? I hope to have a relaxing time with my husband and sons and perhaps we will but the last one is something to treasure and maybe that’s why I was a mess. 🙂

  6. 6
    Marianne says:

    Friends of my daughter honeymooned in Eastern Europe on account of heat and humidity. Mid-twenties is pretty young to figure that one out.

    I know quite a bit about what bugs me and what makes me happy because I am still asking why. My current least favourite modern medical phrase is “There is no pathology.” Popular culture phrases it, “But did you die?”

    In any case, I hope your suitcase contains things to keep you safe, comfie, happy, healthy, rested… And you find things to make you laugh.

  7. 7
    anne egger says:

    Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the changing of the leaves, cooler weather, Halloween, and the World Series. I am now 53 and what I have found is that I really do not like time changes, whether to standard time or day light savings time. I wish they would just stick to one time. It takes my body about a week to adjust.

    • 7.1
      Marianne says:

      Dear Anne Egger,
      I live in a tiny valley on the edge of a time zone. The sign is moved from one side of the valley to the other so that the 15,000 or so of us don’t need to change our clocks.

  8. 8
    Colleen Perry says:

    I also hate summer heat, bugs, etc. but I also don’t like winter cold, but still better than summer. But I’m lucky, I love spring with new growth and warm starting. Fall is best of all, it starts to cool down and sounds even sound different. I can feel and hear, and see fall start. I am by polar and suffer with Great Depression, but my family, friends, and favorite authors (also think of as friends) with their glorious books, historical romance, keep me sane and happy. My two pregnancies, although married, were hard for me because depression, came at a great cost, but now grown they and one granddaughter are the joy of my life and such comfort to me. I have to watch mood swings and keep in control. Now that I feel I know you through stories and public and personal communication are my role model. I think if you can make it with all you lived through, I can make it too. You are my favorite author, love all your books.

  9. 9
    Beth Lisk says:

    I’m pretty sure that the rise in cancer rates has something to do with the popularity of margarine (of which the chemical makeup is similar to plastic) as a healthy alternative to butter.

  10. 10
    Beth says:

    Dear Lord, send some of that cool down to Florida! I just trudged to the mailbox through humidity you can CHEW in the teeth of a thunderstorm simply to get out of the house.

    My primary care is sending me to a geneticist. I’ve been pointing out since childhood that I react oddly to drugs everyone else gulps with abandon, only to receive the most sneering condescension and metaphorical head patting ever to infuriate a professional woman. Until the lab tests finally got invented to prove… I know my body better than these fools. Despite swallowing the accepted nostrums, my body doesn’t process the budget treatment. Yes, my blood levels were normal…because my body wasn’t PROCESSING what they were feeding me. So there it sat, going round and round. Like my arguments with the “experts”!

    After being called a nut job to my face by an arrogant piece of testosterone, he finally gave me the old fashioned treatment that costs the insurance extra. And gor blimey! It works and I’m measurably all better now they have tests to prove what I kept telling the arrogant idjuts was and is so.

    Now I’m referred to an expensive specialist to basically see what else I’ve been saying is true and mark all the ways I’m not one size fits all in order to defend me from close minded fools who insist on being right…when they’re not. Arrrrrrrgh!

    I’ll be glad to get my genetic markers mapped to be spared other bouts of useless or even dangerous treatments, but why should a woman with a doctorate require a printout to get someone else with similar education to LISTEN?

    (Already have both audio & paperback of Too Scot, but wouldn’t say boo turkey to other books of yours on my wish list)

  11. 11
    Sue says:

    Wow! I have several instances where science finally caught up with me (after being sent to shrink after shrink!). One was my complaint that reading made me sleepy and that my “this correction is so slight as to be worthless” glasses helped. I was well into my forties when I mentioned this to the opthomologist of the day who promptly responded “oh that’s …. syndrome” – Oh really?!

    Then there was the question “why can I only breath out of one side. Of my nose at a time” which met with a similar dismissal. That too turned out to be fact… that one nostril does the bulk of the breathing while the other kinda shrinks. Amazing. I have no idea why I could feel it but there you are.

    There are several more tales in my collection but I will spare you 🙂

    As for keeping my issues to myself, well past experiences have led me to that path as you may imagine.

  12. 12
    Beverly says:

    I rarely need a doctor, but at 50 I scheduled an appointment for a physical. When I arrived for my physical the doctor asked why I was there. I replied – a routine physical. She said she could not do a physical in the 15 minutes that was scheduled. Of course, I asked why the nurses would schedule 15 minutes for the physical I requested? I got no reply and no physical. Since then I rarely go to the doctor. My husband goes every year for his routine physical and even has a list of tests that he needs to be done. The only doctor I trust is my eye doctor. He always gives me a thorough exam and my glasses work. Have fun and stay safe on your travels.

  13. 13

    Hi Grace,
    I’m reading this and shouting, “that’s me, too!” And I only wish I were diving into research involving a suitcase. You’re a marvel.
    Just finished Too Scott to Handle. Loved it, as always. And now must get busy launching book 2.
    Aleigha

  14. 14
    Moriah says:

    I’m not sure about an answer to your question, but I find the idea of reverse SAD fascinating. It’s something I’d never considered but makes tons of sense. As I’ve grown older, I find I don’t like the summer more and more. Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons.

  15. 15
    Sophia S. Clark says:

    My Messed-Up Science: Years ago I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Not a fun diagnoses. It tends to get worse & can end up being incapacitating. Years passed, disability occurred, & my doctor died. I was randomly assigned to another psychiatrist. In our first meeting, he asked me a bunch of questions–many of which had to do with lifelong insomnia. He then gave me a gentle smile and told my I had type II bipolar disorder. He has very unusual ideas about bipolar & what will help folks with that. Because his ideas are so unusual, he is despised by most other psychiatrists in town. Most nurses, patients, & doctors in other towns think he’s great. His ideas help people stay functional and working.

    In fact I went back to school & got a certificate in something I really liked. I was not able to return to work because at age 48 I started having trouble with Multiple Sclerosis. It had nothing to do with the bipolar.

    Medical science has not caught up with this doctor’s knowledge, & he is fighting an up hill battle against a bunch of stick-in-the-mud docs. I keep encouraging him to publish, but so far he keeps saying he does not write well.

  16. 16
    Sarah says:

    I think I have both kinds of SAD – not sure which one is worse. I feel vindicated now for having loathed July all of my life. At some point science will connect it with my Northern European DNA . . .

  17. 17
    Elisa J. says:

    I know, know, know that I am allergic to the cola bean. Drinking colas (doesn’t matter the brand) makes me sick to my stomach. No doctor has ever agreed with me that this is a medical possibility, even when I’ve drunk cola in front of one and proven it.

    I also empathize with you about summer–I’ve been in your shoes, and I live in the South. I hibernate during the summer here, and love the fall/winter/spring (except when the temperature hits 85 degrees on Christmas day!)

    Good luck with your writing; looking forward to reading many more of your fantastic books. I would love an audiobook version of “Too Scot to Handle”!