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   Today, December 21, is not only Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, the official beginning of winter.  Early this morning we also had a total lunar eclipse, further darkening our night sky.  It was the first time that a lunar eclipse coincided with Winter Solstice since 1638, making this truly the darkest day in 372 years.

   What difference does that make, you might wonder, except as a piece of useless trivia, a geeky factoid?  It is, to me, kind of wild to live through a natural phenomenon that nobody alive has experienced before, so I guess that matters.  Also, as anyone who deals with people, particularly in health care, will tell you, natural phenomena do seem to have some effect on people.  And darkness certainly affects people.  Those with true Seasonal Affective Disorder (SADS) are surely hitting a low, but even many  who don’t have SADS seem to be feeling a little low on energy, a little melancholy.  And to top it all off, we have a full moon tonight, which makes for all kinds of strange behaviors and events (those of us who have worked in Emergency Rooms or Crisis Centers can vouch for that…).

   The good news is this.  Every day after today gets longer until Summer Solstice.  We’ve hit the low, and it gets better from here.  One of my patients said it best today- simply and beautifully.  We were talking about how difficult things have been for her recently, and then we touched on the fact that today was the darkest day of the year.

“I see that as hope,” she said.  I think she’s right.

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