Friday, February 24, 2006

Sometimes she feel sooooo SAD...

It seems that everyone around me has come down with some manifestation of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, as our acronym-loving society calls it.

SAD, for those of you un-schooled in pop psychological jargon, is the official name for the winter blues. As with any commonality among peoples, there is a valid reason this occurs, in this case a lack of sunlight.

Or, as your grandmother probably told you, “go out and get some fresh air.”

SAD has been an annoyance of mine since I was a teenager, usually resulting in a week-long binge of self-pity and chocolate, followed by a week of guilt and self-deprecation, then finally a decision to eat healthier and get more exercise, the latter which provides the necessary sunlight to pull me out of my funk.

In other words, “Go out and get some fresh air.”

Oh, there were times when SAD threatened to bring the whole opera to a screeching halt, times when the sun wouldn’t coordinate with my exercise week and the blues just hung on. The danger was in making major decisions during this time frame, insisting that my depressed state was “the way it is” and my life, therefore, needed a complete overhaul. During one of these spells I quit a perfectly good job without having another to replace it, a decision that set me back a few years.

I suppose that was when God decided I wasn’t qualified to run things alone and sent me Dirtman.

Dirtman, the poster boy for pragmatism, does not have “moods.” Dirtman would never use the term “a bad day.” He may have a day where some things go wrong, but any day that ends with him still standing is an okay day by him.

Some mistake this for shallowness. But while the philosophical intelligentsia is brooding over the meaning of life and how tough it is to get things done in such an unfair and uncooperative world, the “shallow” Dirtmen of the world are keeping it all spinning.

So when I begin to key up to a SAD decision, Dirtman always suggests we “wait a few weeks,” assuring me that if I still feel the same way, we would, by all means, finalize the decision.

Over the years this approach prevented me from declaring bankruptcy, dying my hair an embarrassing color and taking a trip across the country funded entirely with credit cards.

Only once did Dirtman make the mistake of mentioning why, at the time, we needed to “wait a few weeks.” Some advice to the pragmatic living with someone with SAD: Don’t mention SAD (or The War…). When you are in the throes of SAD, you are absolutely positive it isn’t SAD. Anyone who tells you it is SAD is perceived as one living in denial of the true reason for your depression, that reason usually being the one giving advice. Telling a person the reason for their depression is SAD can cause them to threaten to move in with their aunt in Philadelphia even though she has a one-bedroom apartment that smells like mothballs and wouldn’t want two toddlers running around even if they are the grandchildren of her favorite sister.

The furthest Dirtman will go now is to suggest I look at the calendar, and this only if he's on his way out the door on a long business trip, having fed me mass quantities of Chunky Monkey ice cream.

Just a suggestion.

So I know you’re out there, fellow SAD-suffers. I can hear you breathing. And whining. And saying, “That’s okay for Sisiggy and her self-analyzing pop psychology. But she’s mitigating what is really wrong with me because the world really has not been nice to me. The world really does stink and I am justified in wanting cash in my life insurance and buy a boat to sail around the world even though I’ve never seen the ocean.”

A word of advice: wait a few weeks.


And get some fresh air.

Many thanks to the Lifecruisers whose blog, I realized, suggested this post. I suspect they are growing a hybrid breed of philosophically intelligent pragmatist over there in Sweden, where they know how to hibernate. Just read the matriarch’s own contributions on her blog and you’ll see why. Sometimes I have to agree with the rest of the world when they call us Americans spoiled.

Editor's Note: Sisiggy is not a psychiatrist, psychologist or a person having a talk show. She is not a celebrity, which seems to make people think they know about areas they've got no business opining about like mental health and politics. She recognizes the existence of clinical depression and defers to the professionals in all related cases.


Jagosaurus said...

Some of us have both SAD and clinical depression, a really fun combination. Winters can be long and frightening. I've learned how to deal with it, found really excellent medication, and learned to delay major decision-making until a less dangerous time of year. And? My apartment doesn't face South accidentally. All that sunny goodness is NOT just for the cats (although they would beg to differ).

John Boy said...

We have to deal with this during long hours on the U Boat. I say "Shut UP, all of you!!"

You have to have good men.

Jagosaurus said...

Yeah, whatever, Captain Kangaroo. Pffffft.

Hick said...

Wow! I think I'll go out in the sunshine while it lasts.

PS...sometimes I feel like I'm in an alternate universe when I read the comments on your blog. Could be me, though...

Mrs Lifecruiser said...

I guess we're a little bit ahead here, because we are used to these very dark and cold winters here in Sweden, we have survived. Had no choice...

Oh, BTW: thanx for the linking :-)

Leslie Shelor said...

I had to deal with this when I lived in Maine, but haven't been affected since I moved home. Good points about decision making, although my decision during one of my worst spells to leave Maine and the idiot I was married to behind was one of the best I ever made!