The month from mid-December to mid-January is the longest amount of time many of us spend at our parents’ houses each year.
In probably unrelated news, approximately 20 percent of the population suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
SAD is a type of depression triggered by the changing seasons that usually begins in late fall or early winter and is gone by summer. Symptoms include fatigue, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed and lack of energy.
The AAFP believes a lack of adequate sunlight is the primary cause of SAD and recommends light therapy and leaving the house every once in a while as possible treatments.
As a long-time (we’re coming up on four years) self-diagnosed sufferer of SAD, I am clearly more qualified than the Internet to offer advice for people wishing to overcome this debilitating condition.
I’m assuming you’ve considered the obvious and decided against sticking your head in the oven with your Christmas ham. Smart move. No one wants brains in their dinner.
My absolute favorite thing to do when I feel SAD is to change into some overpriced loungewear from Anthropologie, listen to Radiohead and walk around slamming doors and sighing a lot. It feels just like an indie movie, especially on days when it’s raining.
It’s also a really good idea to become nocturnal because you end up with a lot of time by yourself in the dark while the rest of your family sleeps. Sometimes you can go days without talking to a single person, which is great. You’ll find that when you’re SAD, everyone around you becomes unbearable.
Frequently when I’m bemoaning my existence, people suggest thinking of the less fortunate as a way to put things in perspective. Precious, from the movie “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” is usually the first person who comes to mind, which really bums me out.
Instead, I like to think about people who are significantly more fortunate than I am and consider how awful they must feel about Precious.
Thinking of richer, better looking, less SAD people suffering is a great way to make yourself feel better.
Another fun option is to look back on of all the people you’ve rejected in your life.
Doing this makes me feel powerful and gives me a sense of control, which can make the SAD go away.
For a while, at least.
Be careful though, this often leads to thinking about the times when I’ve been rejected, which causes more SADness.
When parts of my treatment take an ugly turn like that, I like to remember how insignificant everything is. I do this by looking at pictures of space. There’s nothing bigger than space (hold on—this is about to become a pretty scientific discussion) and the space we’re talking about when we refer to space? That’s just the parts of the universe that are proven to exist.
Don’t even get me started on all of the undiscovered parts of space (and the aliens!). There’s no way to feel important after that.
I bet that if Barack Obama is reading this right now, he is wondering why people even care so much about what he’s up to, given how irrelevant we all are. I bet this is helping Barack Obama overcome his SAD.
If none of my thoughtful mind exercises have helped with alleviating your SAD, consider yourself lucky. It’s time to seek professional help.
Please don’t view this as a negative thing; psychiatrists mean pills.
I’m not suggesting that you develop a substance abuse problem. In fact, I would see this as a business opportunity. Instead of taking the pills yourself, you should save them for next semester and make some cash in January.
Nothing will ever make you happier than money.
Plus, I hear UMW is currently suffering from a drug dealer shortage. Now’s your chance to monopolize the industry. And, if you stick to pills, they’re totally legal to receive through the mail as long as the prescription is in your name.
If none of these tips are quite right for you, you could always make a paper chain, counting down until the date the world is set to end in 2012. Not only are crafts a great way to distract yourself from how horrible you feel about being alive during the winter, but you will also get to see just how near the end really is.
Keeping these helpful suggestions in mind, I hope you all have an enjoyable, SAD-free month with your families.
I feel like I should mention that I’m not, like, a doctor or anything, though. I barely passed biology.
Maybe you should try the light therapy.