A Super Analogy About Mental Health and Summer

by Bill Brenner on July 11, 2013

I’m in the middle of a campout as I write this, and though some of those around me are wilting in the 90-plus degree heat, I have to admit that I’m loving it.

Mood music:

It’s not that I enjoy the sweating and humidity-saturated clothing. What I enjoy is my mental state during long, sunny days. I’m always in better humor, more creative and more in the moment than I am in the dead of winter, when I’m more given to depression. The sun seems to play a role in balancing my brain chemistry for optimal performance. This is often called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

The new Superman movie, Man of Steel, presents an interesting analogy for me. Superman gets his strength from the sun. His Kryptonian cells drink it up and become batteries that propel him to great feats.

I remember one Superman comic book series in which the sun temporarily goes out, and Superman’s powers go out with it. The sun returns, but it takes some time for his powers to come back because his cells require a lot of time to recharge.

In a similar fashion, my optimal mental health doesn’t appear immediately after the clock springs ahead for more daylight. This past year, in fact, some of my most winter-like behavior surfaced mid-spring. But once the sun seeps deep into my brain chemistry, I’m good. Very good.

My goal is to get that state of mind to last longer and longer. That my mood fluctuations got worse in spring may actually be a good sign. Usually they rear their ugly heads in early February. That could mean progress. Or it could just be coincidence. I also admit that some of my spring-time brooding was the result of months-long uncertainty about where my career was headed.

I don’t know what the future will bring. I only know what I’ll be doing to make it as good as I can.

For now, I’m just grateful that we’re in the tight grip of summer.

Man Of Steel

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