As Winter officially draws to a close in the Northern Hemisphere, but refuses to actually f*ck right off, I’ve noticed there’s a little SAD in all of us.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a bit controversial in medical terms, but generally accepted as a mood disorder or signifier of wider depressive tendencies. From my personal experience and observations of sufferers around me, the major symptoms are:
- Obsessive planning of layers
- Feeling disassociated from the concept of ‘daylight’
- Anxiety related to opening curtains due to assumed horridness
- Over-attachment to hot-water-bottles
- Compulsive buying of scarves and bed-socks
- Difficulty concentrating on anything other than booking sunny holidays
- Abandonment issues geared towards the sun
I now think there are two different types of SAD.
My days as a student in Dunedin were COLD. The clear, crisp days were the hardest because they reeked of antarctic ice and the sun belied the chill and made the unindoctrinated venture out without full winter get-up. At least the cloudy days offered some sort of planetary insulation, as our houses had none, and thus we turned to the always efficient ‘booze blanket’.
This COLD was definitely the instigator of SAD in Dunedin. I remember feeling like I’d not been warm in weeks. Like my toes didn’t belong to my body. Like my fingers were blunt, rusty instruments of no discernable use. Like my electric blanket was my true Lord and Saviour. In the shower my butt shivered while my front broiled as I turned the temp up to max and my numb toes sprang to life with the searing, ecstatic pain of renewed life!
In London the cold is much worse, but more manageable. The central heating is much better (i.e. they have heard of the concept) and so even in phases of bone-chilling wind that freezes your nostril hairs and hurts your brain in waves of inhalation, you’ve generally started the journey warm and know you’re heading for the sweaty mess of the tube, followed by the invariably overheated office.
What hurts in London is the dark. Wake up in the dark, go to work in the half-light, endure office illumination, watch the sun set at 2.30pm, walk home in the dark, be at one with the dark, you ARE the dark. Considering a major treatment for SAD is bright light therapy, I think they realised before I did, that it’s the lack of sunlight causing the depression, rather than the cold/wet/mouldy/blurghness of the season.
I know I’ve become a bit of a skipping disc on repeat of late. I’m cold. I’m so poor. Everything I own has holes. It’s dark all the time. I need a job. I’m old. My back hurts. I want snuggles. Where is my life going?
It’s hard, but I chose it. Does that mean I can’t complain? No, I don’t think so (obviously!). My Other Mother taught me with her hangover-sympathy that it doesn’t matter if you made yourself sick, you’re still sick. So here’s me complaining, as per usual. But I also like to complain with purpose, so I’ve made a plan.
To bludge off others, I’ll call this my ‘Happiness Project’. Mainly because I can’t think of anything that doesn’t reek of church or death (‘out of the darkness, into the light!’). There’s an actual Happiness Project that inspired me, along with that of my fellow Kiwi Blogger RunawayKiwi, who’s similarly on a mission to use creativity to beat the insipid greyness.
Since I’m terrible at completing personal projects (apart from this blogging thing – how is this still going?!), I’m making the rules simple and easy to follow.
#1: I must do something other than go to work and go home and watch stuff EVERY DAY (i.e. actively participate in my own life).
#2: I must leave my area (Mile End) EVERY DAY.
The aim of #1 is to do something fulfilling every day. This can be a London-y thing like going to a show, museum, gallery, park, event; It can be seeing friends, or going on a date; it can be writing a blog or something else creative; it can be skype-ing, emailing, postcarding friends and family back home; it can be as minor as walking home on a nice evening via Tower Bridge and the Thames. It is anything that I’m not being paid to do, that brings me happiness.
The aim of #2 is to avoid the Sundays where I spend 99% of the day in my room mooching about on the interwebz coz I ‘need a rest’. Ultimately this ends in guilt at wasted time, inability to sleep the night before work, total lack of even basic achievements like doing washing, and GONADS disorder (Guilt Over Not Always Doing Stuff). Like you’re just hanging around, full of potential, but you’ve got nowhere to go, or no-one to go there with. *Totally gonna have to trademark that*
I decided on this plan on Tuesday, and it is now Saturday night and I am winning at the game thus far. Achievement unlocked! I’ll let you know how I go, if you let me know how you battle your location/time-specific downers.
- Feeling Sad, Depressed? Some Light Therapy Could be a Solution (naturalsociety.com)
- 9 things to know about Seasonal Affective Disorder (nbclatino.com)
- “Feeling SAD over the weather? You’re not alone” (pamhi.wordpress.com)
- Feeling Sad, Depressed? Some Light Therapy Could be a Solution (prn.fm)
- No Dole to Bludge: a guide to being an unemployed Kiwi in London (1in12million.wordpress.com)
- Seven Things Which Affect Our Moods… (food4thesoul93.wordpress.com)
- “Seasonal Affective Disorder” An Issue in Iowa? (kcrg.com)
- The end of Funemployment (1in12million.wordpress.com)
- How to combat seasonal affective disorder (troyrecord.com)
- How to combat seasonal affective disorder (mercurynews.com)