It's a brain thing. Here come the holidays, there go my eyes, and it's time to pull the shades again. I do most of my work in the dark.
I watch people all around me get through Seasonal Affective Disorder in winter time. I am the opposite. I welcome the dark. I wish I could live on a planet in continual full eclipse, I would be outside all the time. I love dark rainy days because I actually feel better.
It starts in the autumn. Between allergies from the autumn leaves melting my eyeballs in a gooey ooze (I drink benadryl by the quart in the autumn) and more and more sunlight flickering through the baring trees while I drive (Scott makes fun of my huge sunglasses, and my windows are tinted), the nerves in my face spike around till I get a pain level going that makes the 1-10 scale look like a silly comic strip. The sharp stabs ramming through my left eye into my brain and back down my nose into the roof of my mouth and teeth this last month were amusing, and despite my will of steel that I've built up over the years, I came pretty close to throwing up. Puking would only finish killing me, so I just grit my teeth and think about slamming my head against a few walls, or driving a wire coat hangar into my spine for some crude home grown acupuncture. Don't worry, I'm not a self harmer. Sux enough as it is, no sense making it worse. But the visuals do seem to help a little, maybe they force my brain to squeeze out a few endorphins or something.
We had the most spectacular autumn season that I've seen in nearly 30 years around here, and it's been so dry and sunny that most people are walking around singing about the holidays. I walk out of Walmart blinded and stumble through the parking lot hoping I don't run my cart into someone's car while I peek my eyes open every few seconds just long enough to keep my bearings. Every morning I'm curled up in a ball planning my day by day strategy. Small chunks. Five minutes doing this, a couple minutes doing that, keep moving around, lay down a few minutes, get up and move some more, don't sit too long, don't read too long, don't stand too long in one place. I am a professional with migraines. Most people never know I have them. I got really lucky last summer, they eased up after a particularly nasty spring, and all I can say is watch me fly. If I can do everything I'm doing, get everything done that I'm getting done with migraines in my face, imagine what I could do without them.
So here they come again. This week has been like getting back together with an old friend. All the old familiar habits are coming back. Darken up my life, work in tiny time increments, keep moving. At all costs, keep moving...
Nerve damage is an interesting lifestyle. My eyes themselves are very healthy. My brain shows no obvious anomalies. It's the cranial nerves running out of the back of my skull and across my face that are the problem. Since 2004 I've been dealing with the crazy numbness, maddening itching, weird loss and come backs of smell and taste, phantom sensations that make my face feel wildly asymmetrical, and a full range of prickling, stabbing, and burning pains. I can blink my eyes just fine, my mouth works like it's supposed to, my hearing is still pretty good, but between sometimes being able to feel every curve in my skull (feeling your eyes sockets from the inside is a hoot) and sometimes not being able to feel my face at all (a blessed relief from the maddening itch, which is continual otherwise), I deal with some really nasty migraines that defy description. I don't fit textbook headaches at all.
I used to love Christmas lights. I used to love driving the main strip in Branson at night. I used to love being out in the evenings doing things around town. But now I just want the dark. If I want to see any of that fun pretty stuff, I look at it online. When I work on my blogs, I keep most of my pages really dark and the print brightly colored so I don't have to work my eyes harder on the monochromatic black/white.
And metaphorically, I like it dark. I like thinking about the human condition, and how people survive against hopeless odds in terrible situations. I like how humans can make the decision to plunge ahead into the unknown abyss and outwit crushing defeat. I like the way people can develop the kindest souls by living through the darkest nights, alone, unaided, forgotten. I think true light in this universe is really us.