09 November, 2006

I am SAD.

I've been battling depression again for the past few months. Actually, I haven't been "battling" so much as "surrendering faster than Vichy France". For those of you who have never been depressed, in my case this mostly consists of:
  • Not doing much.
  • Not thinking much.
  • Sleeping a lot.
E.g., this morning I woke up, in a technical sense, at around 8:20, but for some reason felt the need to lie around listlessly in bed until about 11 before I actually dragged myself up and about. Also I've noticed that there's a lot of dilly-dallying and shilly-shallying that needs to be done around my house lately.

I don't ordinarily write about stuff like this, because it's frankly boring and uninteresting, and I'm already boring and uninteresting at this point; so why compound it?

However: my roommate suggested to me recently that I might suffer from such a thing as "seasonal affective disorder". This is basically shorthand for: "Gets sad in the wintertime." It even has a reflexive acronym. Neat!

Normally I am prone to scoffing at spuriously labeled diseases (e.g., "ADD", "IBS", etc.), many of which I think are overdiagnosed or fictitious. I don't have a good reason for these beliefs; I am merely a cantankerous and unreasonably contrary type of person in this regard. But I like the idea that I suffer from SAD. The short summary of the "disease" is that it's a product of shorter daylight hours*, which has some sort of unknown physiological effect (depressed serotonin or melatonin levels being a couple of hypotheses). Estimates of prevalence are as high as 10% of the population. This fits in with a lot of other genetic pre-determinisms I've formulated with regard to myself, including propensity to thinness, high metabolism, poor performance in cold weather, etc., reflecting my clear adaptation to warm, lower-lattitude climates.

The logical course of action is thus to move to Arizona. It has warm weather, much longer days in winter, no mosquitos (I think), lots of stars, and probably has a reasonable supply of peyote for producing mescaline. I intend to get right on this, as soon as I finish this damn PhD.

* Thank you, Daylight Savings Time.


I have been claiming to have SAD for years in the hopes that my insurance will cover my move to a tropical paradise. So far, they have declined every claim. 

Posted by Mist 1

SAD actually has a very easy and effective treatment -- no meds, no psychotherapy, just several hours basking under a therapeutic sunlamp. It's actually been proven to work. 

Posted by DearDarlingDidi

Yeah, I know, but those lamps cost like $200. Cheaper to stay depressed. 

Posted by saurabh

I don't think so, Saurabh. Assuming your time is worth at least MA minimum wage, then the lamp will pay for itself after 30 hours of more satisfying life. If you can't afford it, that's something else entirely--say so and put up a tip jar. Seriously, look into the light, it's really supposed to work.  

Posted by Saheli

My brother used to have SAD, but now he completely ignores the state of weather, and keeps himself packed with school activities to help.  

Posted by Nikhil

If you're going to move to the U.S South/Southwest--and I recommend it--I'd like to make a pitch for Austin, Texas (81 degrees as I write this).

While retaining all the qualities you like in Arizona, we also have a massive  quantity of burnt orange, which is close enough to saffron to satisfy your parents.

There's also plenty of political options to suit your needs. Anarchist bastions in a liberal city in a conservative state means you can choose your level of activism. Want to be involved in a free-bikes-to-the-masses program? We've got it! Want to relive your struggles to get a city to recycle? You can do it here! Want to fight evil landlords who have the right to steal your stuff if your late with the rent? All right here too!

Seriously, though, if the lamp works, let us know.  

Posted by Dan

I think Massachusetts lends itself to SAD more than some places. I am convinced that at the same latitude in a place with less gloomy architecture and foliage and residents, one can be much cheerier. Maybe near Zaragoza. I think moods sweep through regions like secret storms, passing and wreaking havoc and dissolving into the atmosphere undetectable by radar. I felt that intensely when I lived in Mass., especially in later winter. February was always dreadful. The dismal diffuse grey light and the masonry buildings dark with the soot of diesel and coal and even wood smoke, it's been that long since they were scrubbed, and the great-grandchildren of old-timers with their distrust of those of us with new ideas and rhinomorphologies, it's enough to make a guy batty. I agree that it's worth trying the lamp -- I know people who have had success with it, and what the hell, it's a good source of illumination too -- but I agree that a change of scenery can be a good thing. You still need to come visit one of these days. Right around New Years, coastal California can be at its best, with roses bursting into bloom and the bay and eucalyptus trees fumigating the air with menthol.

Burnt orange -- hook em horns . Don't forget the bats! 

Posted by hedgehog

I hate to shatter your illusions, but Arizona in fact has tons of mosquitos. Tucson does, at least. They breed in the tanks of evaporative coolers and in washes during the monsoon season. My house was positively infested for about a month. We just couldn't keep them out. On the plus side, they are less itchy than Massachusetts mosquitos.

All the other reasons you list to like Arizona are quite true as far as I know, though. We also have lots of jimsen weed, but that stuff will kill you. 

Posted by Emily

There's also summer SAD, which is less common... loss of appetite, not wanting to do anything, not taking joy in the usual stuff. As for curing your SAD, have you had ice cream lately? What about beating helpless animals senseless? How about picking fights with people you never really liked anyway? I find all these things therapeutic... well, actually I usually do Yoga Booty Ballet and write in my journal about my FEELINGS.

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