If there was ever a perfect name for a sickness, Seasonal Affective Disorder is it. I suffer from it, and believe it or not, it begins now. As back-to-school sales morph into tear jerking snapshots in front of yellow busses, the days begin to get shorter, darker, and each day more sinister with the threat of limited sunshine.
I have suffered with S.A.D. for years, so I recognize the symptoms: general malaise (the Energizer Bunny within can no longer be easily recharged); depression (even raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens make you sad); absurd sleepiness (you wake from a nap on the couch to go take one in the bedroom despite getting ten hours of R.E.M. the night before . . . and you still you need a cannon in your ear to get going again); you overeat—mostly carbs like Pringles and Bugles—it’s like they’ve just announced they’ve been bought out by Kashi and you’re trying to imprint the taste for life. This is followed by lack of concentration (can’t even thread a needle), de-socialization (if Ellen, Oprah, or Publishers Clearing House knocked on your door you wouldn’t answer it), and the disappearance of libido (i.e. no sex. Really, there is NO Come on Baby Light my Fire). This is a very bad disease, and truly, it needs a telethon.
Over the years I have tried all the remedies. I pop melatonin like tic tacs, sit under a Spectrum light until my eyeballs feel fried, I boost my levels of Vitamin D, practice cognitive therapy, dabble with ionized air administration, and force all manner of fish down in an effort to mimic the Icelandic people (they, along with the Canadians don’t seem to get this as prevalently. As an aside—the people in New Hampshire win the award for most affected—so sad . . . pun intended). S.A.D., is a form of hibernation, left over from the days when food was scarce during the winter, but fish-loving people who live like Aleutians, always seem to have plenty of seafood and are fine eating it three-squares-times-seven.
After many years, and many cycles of being best loved at the party to not even being invited, I have found the only thing that truly works for me. And they all start with the letter “B,” as in Bermuda, Bahamas, Boca. When things get about as bad as they can get, usually during the month of February, I head south. I have find to sunshine. My family knows this, my friends know this, even my dog knew this before she died (although she used to snuggle with me, even she couldn’t sleep as long as I could).
This year, in a preemptive attack, I’ve already decided my “light therapy” is going to be Costa Rica. I’ve arranged the trip before the first leaf falls in hopes that the anticipation of winter sunshine will stave off E.O.S.A.D. (early onset seasonal affective disorder). Next, I’m going to get a big poster with a coconut palm towering over an aquamarine ocean to tape to my office door. In December, when it’s dark by four, I’m going to download “I’ll Follow the Sun” on my iPod. In January, when it’s not only dark, but bitter cold, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” will be running non-stop through my head. In February, I’ll be singing “Sunshine on my Shoulders Makes Me Happy,” while sipping Mango Margaritas and soaking up the sun.