Sandra Tsing Loh learns about SAD.
I thought I was feeling morose due to fall being school application season. This nerve-wracking time tempts a parent to catastrophize. I worry that, with today's spiraling academic competitiveness and tuition rates, my children and their ilk will be living with their parents until the age of 40. As I have a Costco card and depend heavily on my kids' computer skills, this would be no problem for me, but it makes me feel sad for them.
I was ruminating about this to my nurse-practitioner friend Gwen while - unbeknownst to me until she pointed it out - consuming half a large bag of Hawaiian barbeque-style Kettle chips. I've been drawn to them recently not just due to their splendid mouthfeel, but due to their cheerful tropical color-luaus! sarongs! greasy sunburst-orange salty chip dust!
"You've heard of SAD, right?" asked Gwen. "Seasonal Affective Disorder?"
"Where when there's less daylight towards winter, many of us get sadder?," I say. "sure."
"It's no joke," she exclaimed. "Seasonal Affective Disorder is suffered by half a million Americans, mostly women. It causes not just depression but, and I quote, 'an uncontrollable urge to eat sugary and/or high-carb foods.'"
Gwen directed me to a medical website about SAD. If you too are suffering these symptoms, here are the top five tips for reversing the season's dark tide:
1) Get a light box or "light visor." This presumably will make one look like a sad-eyed Eeyore wearing one of those plastic cones like dogs and cats. Recommended for those with nosebleed-high self-esteem.
2) Eat tryptophan-filled foods: turkey, milk, or egg whites. Maybe. Here they start admitting no one knows if it works for sure.
3) Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Maybe.
4) Exercise. Always a good idea. And:
5) If you can? Temporarily move to a sunnier climate! This sounded good to me until I heard about a depressive screenwriter who every winter moves from Montana to Malibu. Aka: here.
"Or let's cheer you up by going to the movies!" suggests Gwen.
"Oh great," I say, tapping the paper. "What'll it be?"
Robert Redford in "All Is Lost"?
Tom Hanks in "Captain Phillips," who is presumably NOT piloting a festive Love Boat or similar vacation cruise vessel?
How about "Gravity," where someone named Sandra is hurtling alone and untethered through an infinite void of black space?
"How about this?" she suggests. "Last Vegas. Tagline: 'A royal flush of actors delivers a full house of comedy!'"
Ugh ... "Is it a good movie or a bad one?" I ask.
"Doesn't matter!" she exclaims. "It's a Seasonal Affective Disorder movie!"
And it was, particularly at 4:30 in the afternoon. Cosmos at the Arclight bar helped.
Next week: Seasonal Affective Disorder books.