It’s been a little bit under 48 hours since The Great American Eclipse crossed 12 states, and across the country, observers have been complaining of “eclipse sickness” ever since the event.
As Bustle reports, “eclipse sickness” is real, and it’s not a case of mass hysteria. People who watched the event really have gotten sick, reporting symptoms such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, and just a general feeling of being run down (or in some cases, inexplicable bursts of energy). By way of a data point, this writer and his wife both had it, too. After watching the eclipse in Missouri, the next day we both felt as if we’d been run over by a bus.
It’s been going around, too. As News Corp Australia reports, Google searches for the phrase “eclipse hypochondria” spiked Tuesday. Undoubtedly, this eclipse sickness business is enough of a thing that Google noticed the results. Casper, Wyoming radio station KISS 104.7 reports Wyomingians complaining of symptoms. Similarly, Kentucky radio station WKDQ also notes Kentuckians are coming down with symptoms as well.
So what’s causing the symptoms? In a word, cosmic rays. Most of us don’t spend hours at a time watching the sun move across the sky, says Bustle. Most Americans can normally be counted on to spend a Monday afternoon in an office or other workplace lit by artificial light. On Monday, however, millions of us were out in parks or wherever, staring at the sun for hours. That means that UV radiation bombarded us for hours. And if you were unwise enough to look at the sun without proper eclipse glasses, those harmful light rays went straight to your retinas.
— UF ICBR (@UF_ICBR) August 23, 2017
That kind of sun exposure causes, you guessed it, nausea and headaches, among other symptoms.
What’s more, there’s this problem called “flickering,”according to WKDQ. It happens when your eyes go from light to darkness, quickly, several times (for example, by taking your eclipse glasses off and putting them back on again, over and over again). “Flickering” can cause headaches, fatigue, and nausea, among other symptoms.
ECLIPSE PICTURE / MOUNT ANGEL ABBEY: Monks on the roof /deck overlooking the Valley and cloister garden. Watching w/ eclipse safety glasses. pic.twitter.com/3kO1Say8sw
— Fr. Philip Waibel (@stmarypastor) August 23, 2017
Of course, that’s the scientific explanation for eclipse sickness. If you’d like to leave the world of science and enter the world of woo, Medium contributor Trina Harmon has another “explanation” for her symptoms, and the universe wants her to “rebalance.”
“But I knew this kind of tired, and it had nothing to do with lack of sleep. It’s the kind of ‘trance’ like tiredness we get when spirit is urging us to go into theta state so we can be rebalanced, or be downloaded a new ‘frequency operating system’ in order to adjust to the new energies… Some readjustment to the ‘new earth’ is necessary, and your body will respond accordingly sometimes with light headaches, upset stomach, elimination of toxins, vertigo, weakness, etc.”
None of this is to say that you should laugh off your symptoms or chalk them up to spiritualist mumbo-jumbo. If your symptoms persist, you should most certainly see a doctor. And if you believe your eyes were damaged watching the eclipse (symptoms of eye damage start showing up about 24 hours after exposure), by all means, get to your doctor right away.
Have you experienced “eclipse sickness”? Share your experiences in the comments below.
[Featured Image by monkeybusinessimages/Thinkstock]