Darkest before the dawn

In the words of 80’s ballad badass, Michael Bolton ~

‘There’s a light. A certain kind of light. That never shone on me. I want my life to be lived with you’

This classic housewife-wet-knicker-inducing tune floats around my head continuously at the moment. The reason is not a new found love of the long haired stallion’s chart topping ballads {Although who can deny the greatness of ‘I said I loved you but I lied’} But a desire, as well as a real need, to see daylight. I have started a new job and being on an early shift means I am rising from my pit at 5am. I KNOW! Who knew I would ever be able to do it? Me, one of the UK’s, nay the worlds, best sleepers.

A woman who regularly harps on about naps, not being able to get out of bed or anytime before 6am being the middle of the night. Well, all that still applies my friends it’s just that needs must. And by needs I mean a regular wage.


I started the new job at the end of September. This meant that when I got out of the tube, at 6.25am {ready to start my 6.30am shift}, the sky was light. While the sun hadn’t risen just yet, the start of the day was making itself known to us random few walking down Regent Street. Dawn was mere minutes away and the day was slowly but surely beginning to commence

As the weeks continued though, and Autumn progressed, that dawn peepshow ceased to appear. On one particularly crisp, cloudless morning I left my flat and the moon was out. Not just arriving on the scene or saying it’s final goodbyes. It was up and clear and bright in a pitch black sky. As Florence told us ‘It’s always darkest before the dawn’  and it was a complete headfuck.

The trouble is I had left work the day before in the dark and obviously arrived home in the dark. I ate, slept and then woke up to start my next day of work…you guessed it, in the dark. Had I been asleep at all? When did Tuesday end and Wednesday beginning?

It slowly began to dawn on me {pun intended} how much natural light was missing from my day and just how much my body was physically craving it. Sitting for 7 hours a day in front of a large, bright desk top, in a corridor with no windows, started to affect my eyes. When the weather is cold and wet there are no lunch breaks outside or walks around the park. Regularly traveling underground, for the first time in 20 years, I found to be an unpleasant, unnatural experience.

My energy was low. My mood too. Fears of turning into a sallow tinged, husk of a woman began to pepper my thoughts. What if my hair started falling out? What if I started to actually look like I was in my forties?


I googled the side effects of a severe lack of sunlight and found what I was already experiencing ~ Low moods, lack of energy ~ along with craving carbohydrates and gaining weight. The metabolism of a forty year old woman who already loves bread does not need this.

I’ve always known it’s not the temperatures of Summer that I miss. It’s the sun’s bright light itself. I don’t know how those Scandi countries survive with so few hours of daylight. New York in January can be a cruel and bitterly harsh place but for me I am in my element. I am wrapped up like a Inuit, face towards the sun, injecting Vitamin D directly into my eyeballs. Give me freezing and bright any day over warm and overcast. Sadly that’s rarely an option in the UK where drizzle, low clouds and a dull greyness are the unappealing norm.

I was determined not to let my new existence became dark and desolate. Working a new shift pattern will not break me! I thought to myself. The quest to seek out each day’s light began.

Every time I pass the double doors on my floor I will step out onto the small patio and raise my face to that gorgeous light. Regardless of whether it’s shrouded in grey clouds it’s better than the darkness of pre 6.30am. If there is a patch of blue sky above, or even better, the actual sun makes an appearance then I am elated!

‘Come get your Vit D’ I call out to the other girls. We stand together like huddled penguins. Eyes closed, heads raised, bathing in the healing lushness of daylight.


Although it adds a good 40 minutes to my journey, I’ve started to take the bus home. A 10 minute walk outside and then a seat at the top of the bus provides ample light intake and makes me feel like I’m experiencing an actual day. In my flat the last of the afternoon light comes through my bedroom window. I potter around in there and sometimes just sit* watching as the light hits my shelves and streams across my bed. Days off are spent outside as much as possible. Sunglasses are often left at home as I walk with my head held high drinking in the sun’s offering. I start to feel like myself again. I also start to pity Michael Bolton who never got to bath in that certain kind of light. Didn’t seem to affect his hair though.



*I’m taking a nap…course I am. I’ve been up since 5am!

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