A couple of weeks of ago I was lamenting to V that I was simply exhausted. No matter the extra hours of sleep I tried to lay claim to, I just couldn’t shake this incessant need for more time in bed. At first I thought I was coming down with something but as I cycled into my third week of feeling the lethargy but nothing else materializing, I thought otherwise. In explaining my symptoms to V, he was quick to diagnose…
“Oh yeah it’s that time of year. You have Frühjahrsmüdigkeit.”
“What? Frühjahrsmüdigkeit? What in the world does that mean?”
In breaking the word down in my head like a five-year-old learns to sound out letters in kindergarten… ‘Früh’ – ok that means early. ‘Jahr’ – means year. ‘Mudigkeit’ – tired. “Early-year-tired.” Still not working for me.
In seeing the grimace, the raised eyebrows and the heavy sigh that usually accompanies my efforts to decipher a German word unfamiliar to me, V intervenes:
“Frühjahrsmüdigkeit. You know Spring is coming and with it, that heavy feeling connected to the changeover- tired, not totally fit, listless.
“Wait, what? What are you talking about? I have never-ever heard of the likes of this. I love Spring! Spring is good! Spring is outside – it is sunshine and warm weather and all the good things that come with that! Frühjahrsmüdigkeit? We absolutely do not have this in America. This is clearly a German-thing.”
V seemed utterly perplexed that a condition such as this not exist in the States.
So in my quest to learn more, I then I asked… “So does this also happen with the transition from Spring to Fall and from Fall to Winter? Does it go by the same name? It’s a different name right? Because you guys have names for everything. What symptoms exactly do I need to look out for?
In the lead-in to the Fall season, I clearly intended to be prepared.
A look of utter bewilderment then crossed his face when he replied, “Of course not, it’s only with the coming of Spring.”
Of course– stupid me.
I was intrigued by this newfound condition and in turn did a bit of research to suss it out. From what I have uncovered, Frühjahrsmüdigkeit is as V described but from what I read, I have the most mildest of form. Apparently some have been known with its onslaught to experience circulatory problems, irritability, headaches and even depression (sounded a bit to me like Seasonal Affective Disorder but this condition I always associated to the drudgery of the winter season; the coming of spring is actually supposed to cure it!) While I did not get a sense that there was more formal research done on Frühjahrsmüdigkeit, sleep specialists seemed to have weighed in on how to combat it through things such as increased movement, light and of course sleep. In an effort to heal myself, I increased all with a fervor and am happy to say - I am fit again.
As this American expat looks to Spring 2017 and all the Springs to follow, I am relieved that no alarm bells need to be raised around March and April if I happen to wake after 8 hours of non-alcohol induced sleep with the feeling that my body has been run over by a tractor. The Germans have clearly got me covered – ‘It’s just Frühjahrsmüdigkeit!’ Nevertherless I also learned that despite having contracted it for the first time this year, forget about a doctors note - there’s no calling out sick to work with this one.