The Risk of SAD

You know what happens in Florida when you tell people you’re moving to Seattle?

They say something like this:

“SEATLLE! Why would you want to move to Seattle? Don’t you know it rains there? Did you know it’s the suicide capital of THE WORLD? It’s cold like 13 months out of the year there.”

The last sentence is only a slight exaggeration. Let’s look at the evidence here, though.

Annual Rainfall in Seattle

(source)

Annual Rainfall in Central Florida

(source)

Seattle gets 38.6 inches of rain per year. Orlando (the Florida city I most recently lived in) gets 50.7 inches of rain annually.

Points: Seattle – 1, Florida/Orlando/Tampa – 0

However, I will add that I did a little more investigating and Seattle gets 149 days of rainfall annually. Orlando had 117 days of rainfall. I guess it just depends on what you like in your annual rainfall. Are you an inches person or a days person?

In Florida, it’ll be just fine and sunny and then right around 2 or 3 p.m. BOOM, straight up torrential rain you can’t drive in, walk through (even with an umbrella), and you’re just stuck inside for a few hours waiting it out. Also, that whole lightning capital of the world thing IS true. Okay, maybe just the U.S., but still. Man, I’m just debunking stuff left and right today.

I was told the rainfall in Seattle isn’t copious, but it will rain for days at a time. Just a light mist without much sun, but something you can still walk through and go about your day in. Mists I can handle, I just picture myself in a colder version of Fern Gully.

Right? I’ll just fly around saving the trees. There will be plenty of jobs to facilitate that piece on Craigslist.

So, next order of business, let’s discuss this whole argument about suicide.

Annual Suicides per U.S. State

Florida

Washington

(source)

Points: Seattle/Washington – 2, Orlando/Florida – 0

Seattle wins again. This place has gotten some seriously bad PR. Maybe it’s that whole thing that people say about Iceland versus Greenland, in that Iceland is actually really green and Greenland is really ice? You know, to prevent lots of people showing up and ruining the party? Maybe people in Seattle just don’t want people knowing about how awesome Seattle really is.

Plus, to further strengthen my argument, I’m not wild about people taking their lives, but I do work as a mental health counselor. I want to work with people who need help with issues like depression or else I’ll have to go back to school or learn how to be a barista. I’ve got student loans to pay. I already recognize better infrastructure and state support for mental health initiatives in this state, which isn’t hard because Florida is horrible for mental health care.

So yeah, suicides are less in Seattle.

Wildcard

So, here’s why I’m writing this post:

It’s 65 degrees on August 23. That’s just insane to me. Like I honestly feel like it’s some weird day in December in Florida. Forget that though, because the humidity is 58 percent. I’m pretty sure the humidity has never been below 80 percent in any place I’ve ever lived… ever. One of my friend’s statuses on Facebook the other day said something like, “Oh it’s raining now, guess it’s time to break out the winter gear.”

WHAT.

That’s it? Summer is over? I’m nervous, people. I grew up in a state with so much sunlight, we practically had a surplus. I got sunburns in January. I’m nervous I’m going to get SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

“Seasonal affective disorder (also called SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you’re like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, seasonal affective disorder causes depression in the spring or early summer.

Treatment for seasonal affective disorder includes light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications. Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.” (source)

I have dark skin by nature and my body pretty much craves Vitamin D. I actually had a really low level of Vitamin D in my most recent round bloodwork when I was living in Florida. What am I going to do?

But hey, I checked Orlando’s forecast for today:

(source)

Feels like 93 degrees and there’s a hurricane on the way. By the way, that reading about the humidity is wrong. I know it is because my skin is so dry right now, it cracks. Never happened to me in Florida. Trust the Jennifer Bingaman body-approved humidity reader. Trust.

Also, for a girl with really horrible allergies, I like that I’m no where near that “Local Pollen Alert”.

So, I’m going to call this round a tie. Seattle – 2, Orlando – 0, Ties – 1

I’ll keep you guys updated on how I feel as the fall and winter chugs along (you know that whole depression thing I’ve dealt with). I’m going to get to experience seasons! Whee! Also, maybe I’ll look good pale?

Yeah, no. But, I’m excited about this new journey with weather. I know I sound like a crazy lady for any of you who have lived in more than one climate in your lifetime.



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Posted on by Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA Posted in Geeking Out, Individual, Mind, Randomness
Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA

About Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA

Hi, I’m Jen. I’m a mental health counselor newly residing in Seattle, Washington. I strongly believe in the mind-body connection as the cornerstone of my professional ideology, along with the healing possibilities of puppies, a good glass of red wine, the smell of a new book, and the importance of travel.

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  • Allie

    Jen- I do hope you like it out there. I lived out there for 6 months and hated the constant wetness. While it may be true that other parts get more rain total Seattle gets rain almost daily and if it is not raining it is gray and cloudy 99% of the time except in July/August and possibly September. I personally didn’t care to always have to be either damp or packing an umbrella (which btw real Seattelites don’t do!) however I do miss the water….gosh I miss the water and overall beauty of Washington it might grow on you if you have an open mind :)

    • Jen!

      Thanks, Allie. I’m nervous, that’s for sure. It is absolutely beautiful here, just looking out into the distance and seeing the mountains kinda gets my heart pumping. I’m going to do all that stuff people recommend like taking tons of vitamin D and getting a fancy UV lamp. Hopefully that will help.

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  • HL

    1) Some Seattle people are okay with the negative stereotypes of the city because they don’t want an influx of people!
    2) I used to live in WA state, and I went to college south of Seattle, and I remember definitely getting hit with SAD my sophomore year of college. You just have to be more mindful of where your emotional dips are coming from and I think it helps (plus I have a personal theory that I have major emotional dips every six years, and that was one of those years).