Posted on: October 20, 2015 Written by
Photography by: Bronwyn8 from iStock          

It is October. At least, that is what the calendar says. Here in Papua, Indonesia, however, it is screaming, “July!”—a hot, humid, tropical, ain’t-no-such-thing-as-fall “July!”

The end of September launches an annual time of seasonal delusional disorder (SDD) that affects ex-patriates hailing from temperate climates who are now finding themselves in perpetual summer.

The first stage of SDD is Realization. The sufferer notices the increase of Facebook posts such as, “So excited to see pumpkin-spice lattes again!” and, “Enjoyed watching Ole Miss whoop up on Boise State!” and, “Can’t believe this chilly weather! Brrr!” Then, there are the photos of gorgeous golden- and orange-leafed trees. Pumpkin, football, and autumn leaves—none of it is happening here at the equator. That is when Realization dawns: it is autumn somewhere in the world.

The next stage is Denial. The sufferer denies that fall is not coming by setting out a fake pumpkin, hanging a fall-inspired wreath on the door, lighting a scented candle, or whipping up pumpkin-spice creamer for her coffee. She thinks that if she creates enough autumn ambiance, it might actually, magically, become fall.

The Denial stage is quickly followed by the Frustration stage. The sufferer realizes that no matter how much she may wish it, the leaves of the mango tree will stay maddeningly green all year round. Temperatures will stay in the mid-80s from now until eternity.

The final stage of SDD is Acceptance. This is where the sufferer finally admits, “I live in the tropics. I get summer in perpetuity. There will be no fall, no winter, and no spring. One month will melt into the next without any discernible change.”

So what is one who suffers from SDD to do? I suggest therapy in the form of celebrating the seasons of the local climate. There is Rainy Season, which could perhaps be celebrated by buying everyone new umbrellas. We could decorate our homes with large, fake mosquitoes and watch Singin’ in the Rain together. Windy Season could be heralded with a kite-flying contest.

Now I am off to Google SDD and see if it actually exists. Then I will head over to Pinterest and see if there is a board on how to make a paper-mache mosquito.

Happy fall, y’all.


Question to consider: What are some ways you could celebrate the seasons where you live?


©2015 Thrive.

About the author

Natalie and her husband David serve with Mission Aviation Fellowship in Indonesia. They are smack dab in the middle of the family years, with four children ranging in age from 9 to 17. Natalie and her family started out on a tiny island off the coast of Borneo, and after 10 years there moved to the world’s largest tropical island, where they have lived for the past 3 ½ years in the province of West Papua. An avid reader, Natalie enjoys being outdoors, hanging out with her family and friends, exploring new places, and watching British drama. She’s done stints as a newspaper reporter, high school English teacher, and mentor for young married couples.

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  • I LOVE this article. Having lived in the tropics and gone through all these “seasons” and with two daughters now living where there is no fall, but constant Facebook posts, it is a refreshing, touche, look at how those of us whose brains were hardwired for changing seasons struggle with endless green, or brown.

    • Natalie

      Thanks, Anna!

  • Kim

    I also live in Indonesia, but on the other side- Sumatra. Just last week I decorated my bannister with fake autumn foliage, got out my mini pumpkin spice candle, and searched frantically for my one children’s book about Fall (in order to prove to my young daughters that there is such a thing at all). I am clearly still in the denial stage.I think I’ll stay there until Winter ( ;

    • Natalie

      You guys in Sumatra have your own unique season – smoky! Hope it hasn’t been too bad where you live.

  • Dodi Gaba

    This was such a great article. Wish it were longer because I was laughing so hard. So true – after so many years in Asia I now have a proper name for my affliction. SDD. I even have all my “must have” Fall foliage and decorations that must come with us wherever we move.

    • Natalie

      Yes, the fake pumpkin and fall leaves have gotten a lot of mileage. Then there’s Christmas, Valentine’s, Easter, etc. Having the decorations out helps me remember what month it is. 🙂

  • Barbara

    Interesting article. My kids are grown and back in the USA, but when they were younger I used to decorate the house for Thanksgiving- but not for fall in general. I grew up in Minnesota with cold long winters and only 3 months of summer. When I moved to the Southeast Asia in 1989 I absolutely loved the fact that I had summer for 12 months a year. Last year we were on home assignment in the USA from September to June (usually we just spend 3-4 months of winter). I did love experiencing fall and spring- but mostly spring because I know it leads to summer. I absolutely do not miss the cold winter months in Minnesota. So someday when we retire, I think it will be to one of the warmer southern states in the USA.

    • Natalie

      I can imagine not wanting to celebrate fall and winter if you grew up in an extreme cold climate. I grew up in the South, where we had very mild fall and winter. I recommend Northeast Tennessee for your retirement – where the seasons come in perfect balance. Fall is amazing, one or two snows in winter, spring is glorious, and summer is mild. Heaven. 🙂

  • Kathleen

    Paper-mache mosquitoes!! Bahaha! This is perfect. We’ve got moisture, mold, and mosquitoes. If that isn’t ripe for an alliterative, festive decoration theme, I don’t know what is! 🙂

    • Natalie

      Make one, please, and post a DIY with photos! Although, have you ever tried paper mache in the tropics? Air-conditioning is required.