Why Winter really makes me SAD

February 7, 2014

by Becky Mahoney

A few years ago, my friend Joan did a surprise intervention on me. She made the observation that I appeared to be a different person after the switch went off on daylight savings time and the first snowflake drifted from the heavens. She went on to explain that she’d read about this disorder known as SAD; aka Seasonal Affective Disorder and wondered if I might be suffering from it. I recoiled into denial. Hiding my indignation behind my awesome zebra print electric throw and family size bag of potato chips, I did sit up a little straighter and listened as she relayed the symptoms and treatment for this mystery condition.

The symptoms were: Lack of energy. Check. Craving foods high in carbohydrates. Check. Weight Gain. Check. Check. Oversleeping. Check. Depression. Maybe. Who wouldn’t be depressed though? Especially an old fashionista like me. Winter attire isn’t something you see on the cover of Vogue while standing in the check-out line at the grocery, on your many winter weather trips to stock up on bread and milk. Unless of course Vogue has regional issues, and Mrs. Claus is featured all layered up, sporting her red and snow white glam. Those copies would only be available at the Santa Mart at the North Pole. Good grief, three to four months of long underwear pressed up against pasty, white skin leaves waffle marks that look like a permanent case of cellulite. And, forget those trendy boots with the stilleto heel that give the illusion of five inches taller and ten pounds lighter; piling on my puffy jacket just added thirty. Even winter boots have a hideous name. Ugg. Combine all this with a serious case of hat hair and chapped lips. Not a pretty sight. For me, white is not the new black. Give me color: bright yellow, fushia, mint, and tangerine don’t have to ask me twice to come out and play.

I will never understand folks who count down to Winter’s opening day, tossing out the first snowball and joyfully catching snowflakes on their tongues. They see a Winter Wonderland. I see Winter Armeggedon. Even Scientists and Forecasters have come up with some scary names for winter weather. The Polar Vortex. An Artic Blast. Whiteout. Those are fighting words.

I thought maybe, if I just made a shift in consciousness. You know, look at Winter in a new way; frolic in the stuff. Maybe my perception of this ominous, frozen tundra would guide me to the beauty and visual poetry of snowflakes kissing my cheeks. So, last year I tried snow tubing. It really was fun. Until, my feet got wet and the hairs in my nose froze. Mouth breathing like a phlegmy old seal, I waddled over to the car. My puffy jacket was heavy with moisture and I peeled off layers of ice encrusted clothing. Not the Aspen snow bunny look I imagined. Immersed in a hot bath after I got home, I day dreamed of the next time I would venture out to the tubing park with nothing but a bathing suit on. In my minds eye, I saw me; rocketing down the big slide— at my favorite indoor water park. That’s much more my cup of hot chocolate.

Maybe Joan is right. I just might have SAD. Admitting is the first step in recovery. Besides, she tells me the treatment plan includes light therapy and medication. I can handle that. Four months on a bright, sunny Carribean Island and a daily dose of the jumbo bar of dark chocolate-sounds like the perfect cure. Hey, I think on my way down South I need to pick up Punxsutawney Phil, blindfold the old boy, share my chocolate bar, and show him life is good, and warm. Patting his furry head, I’ll reassure him. “There’s no need to be frightened, Phil. Especially by your own shadow. We will soon be fearlessly toasting our toes down in Margaritaville living authentically.”

Maybe, if he stops running scared from his itsy bitty shadow, and hiding out, we’ll see the energy shift into more early Springs! That in turn could make me candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Well, me and Phil. Changing the world, one shortened winter at a time. However, no earthly accolades necessary. I’ve already got dibs on a spot in Southern heaven, reserved for old fashionistas who like to wear fancy flip-flops, sundresses, and big beach hats. SAD will be banished to the brimstone section to warm its icy bones. As for me, you’ll find me practicing up for the barefoot limbo contest.