LEWISTON – Ever since dark clouds enveloped Maine last week – seizing the state in its wettest May on record – Cheryl Pawloski has been treating rain-soaked spirits.
“I try to be hopeful,” said Pawloski, a nurse practitioner at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. “I remind people good days are going to come. This will end.”
However, as the rain continues, even the mental health worker finds herself battling a bit of stress.
“It’s like the seasonal affective disorder that hits during the winter,” Pawloski said.
When it’s uncomfortable to go outside, people stay in, hunker down and wait out the weather.
“It’s just being prolonged because this has never happened before,” the nurse said.
Only halfway through May, the rain has already washed away the record for the entire month, said James Brown, a meteorologist with the local National Weather Service office, appropriately located in Gray.
The prior record of 9.64 inches of rain was set in 1984.
As of noon on Tuesday, 10.65 inches of rain had fallen in Portland, Brown said. He expected that total would climb within hours.
“We’re watching a band of rain approach from the ocean,” he said.
And the sun?
“Perhaps we’ll see some on Thursday,” Brown said. Of course, it will only be a brief respite. Rain is forecast for Friday.
Until the storms end, Pawloski will pursue her hopeful message – “The sun will come out sometime” – and she has hints for folks to manage until then.
First, don’t be alone.
“We’re social creatures and when the weather gets bad, that gets cut off,” she said.
It’s especially hard on older folks, said Pawloski, who treats many geriatric clients.
During her Tuesday morning rounds at the Lewiston hospital, the weather seemed to affect each of her clients, several of whom were depressed because family members had decided they would not visit in the rain.
One lady stayed in bed past 10 a.m., looking ill as she vacantly watched game shows, Pawloski said.
“There is a real mind-body connection,” she said. People who feel sad will often get sick if the sadness continues.
Hint No. 2: Stay busy.
Dwelling on sadness often makes it worse. People with seasonal affective disorder often sleep too much or lose their appetites, Pawloski said.
“Think of the things you can do,” she said. “Exercise helps. If you can go outside despite the rain, do it.”
Then there’s hint No. 3, the reminder she tells all of her clients: “This will end.”
She’s hopeful that the sun will ease lots of problems, she said.
At the B Street Health Center in Lewiston’s downtown, she has seen sunny days cause cancellations among mental-health clients.
“When it’s raining, 100 percent will show up for their appointments,” Pawloski said. “On a bright, sunny day, 20 percent of people will cancel.”
Not that she wants people to cancel. After all, many people need their treatment. But for the borderline cases, the sun can make the difference.
And the sun will return. Pawloski promises.