On the occasion of the first day of summer, one of my FaceBook friends asked: “Do you have anything regarding why solstices and equinoxes can be difficult for bipolar?”
Following is an expanded and reworked version of my answer …
We are very much creatures of seasonal cycles. Kay Jamison, in her 1999 Night Falls Fast, notes that, “like other mammals, our patterns of eating, sleeping, and other physical activities sway with the seasons, varying in accordance with changes in day length and temperature.”
Most of us are familiar with winter depressions. From an evolutionary biology standpoint, our very survival depended on our ability to go into partial hibernation at certain times of the year. Literally, we needed to slow down, stay close to the cave, and conserve energy.
There is also the phenomenon of summer manias. The game changed with the onset of warm weather. Whether gathering berries, hunting for mammoth, dancing under the moon, or adding a man cave to your cave, Mother Nature primed our ancestors for adventure.
In certain climates, though, winter could be invigorating and summer stop us dead in our tracks. The point is we were built to respond to seasonal change. Modern living may have distanced ourselves from a large part of this, but never underestimate the sheer persistence and determination of Mother Nature.