This autumn the Long Dark hasn’t hit me as badly as it had in previous years. Knowing what to expect helped, because I was prepared for it. I made sure to eat plenty of foods high in vitamin D, like fish, eggs, and cheese, and to take supplements on top of that. When there as something resembling daylight, I leveraged that for all it was worth. I recognize that I have privilege in being able to make my own schedule, and made sure to take trips out during those rare hours of thin light whenever possible. We have ample halogen lights to make the apartment bright, but I learned to embrace natural light, and to enjoy the coziness of darkness. There is always music playing, which helps with mood. A crackling fireplace streams on the television almost constantly. We have candles everywhere. It’s been nice, and Iäve welcomed it.
A few days before Christmas it hit both Katie and I, and I think it was because we were fighting something else. Both of us were having chills and body aches for a day or two, nothing horrible. We just wanted to sleep, though. Back in September we started keeping a rigid routine of going to bed at aset hour, and getting up at a specific time in the morning. One of the things the Long Dark will do to you is throw you into “hibernation mode”. When the sun doesn’t come out until close to 10am, and when the cloud cover keeps it hazy and gray even then, it’s easy to just sleep in. Which is what we’ve been doing this week.
What’s worse, though, is how tired I’ve been throughout the day. The darkness messes with your sense of time. The other day I was exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open. I was thinking it was close to bed time, so all I needed to do was hang on a bit longer. Then I looked at the clock, and it wasn’t even 6pm. I should note that caffeine helps, but there’s often not enough coffee in the world to offset this kind of tired.
Unless you’ve lived this far north and experienced it, you really can’t understand.
The upside is that neither of us has been hit with the bone-crushing depression that often comes along with this seasonal fatigue. We’re just slugging and sleepy all the time. It also didn’t hit us into the solstice, so the days are already getting longer. Today was over a minute and a half longer than yesterday. Tomorrow will be almost two minutes longer than today. It speeds up. The quality of the light improves as well, as the sun gets a little higher in the sky rather than simply skirting around the horizon. The angle of the sunlight makes it incrementally brighter.