Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feeling kinda S.A.D.

by Rich Miles

Anyone who reads this blog even remotely regularly will notice that I haven't written much on it lately. There is a good reason for this: it's the weather.

I have been for a number of years now an acute sufferer of S.A.D., or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Which is, in short terms, a deep sense of melancholy that takes place in the worst of the winter. When sunlight is rare, and gray skies are the norm, and temperatures are too cold to allow for much outdoor activity, and generally, the otherwise pleasant activity of going outdoors doesn't help in perking up the spirits in the dead of winter.

It's a recognized and medically-documented syndrome, causing more than the occasional suicide, and while I've never tried to kill myself, there has been more than one occasion when I have been curious as to what it would be like to be dead. But I didn't do it, because if I think it's dark and cold now, I can't even imagine what it would be like to be buried 6 feet under in the dead of winter.

So anyway, cheery as all these thoughts may be, I have had to contend with them for at least the last 40 years or so. And it hasn't been a bundle of fun, I can tell you that for free.

But at any rate, my life has not, so far, turned out the way I hoped it would. I lack any meaningful work. I lack meaningful connections with other people. I feel like I have alienated an awful lot of people, though they've all been inadvertent. I've managed to drive off at least a half-dozen people who were once important to me, but who now want nothing whatever to do with me. All inadvertently. I really didn't mean to drive them off. But nonetheless, I have driven them away. Part of it was my brain disease. But part of it wasn't. Or at least not as far as I can tell.

But anyway, lest I sound even more self-pitying than I already do, I'll see if I can't come to some sort of point in this essay.

I think the point must be that one must have meaningful work in amongst all the other things we need to live. Air, food, a warm place to live out of the elements, friends, lovers perhaps, and -- meaningful work. What 'meaningful' means is a moving target, but -- each person knows what it means most of the time. Working in a plastic bottle-making factory, shifting cartons of empty bottles from one side of the factory to another -- that's not meaningful. Creating the 'Mona Lisa' -- that's probably pretty meaningful.

Doing nothing at all -- that's not even remotely meaningful.

So anyway. I tend to come out of the S.A.D. symptoms when the weather starts being consistently warm. And I am the first to admit that my variety of S.A.D. is by no means the worst there is. People really do kill themselves or others sometimes simply because the sky is overcast yet again today - for the 22nd day in a row.

But just because mine is not the worst variety doesn't mean that it's not bad. It is.

If you've had this happen to you, I recommend a visit to a psychiatrist. Sometimes medications can help the syndrome. Sometimes not, but just because not everyone can be cured doesn't mean you shouldn't seek medical help.

The upside is -- winter doesn't last forever.

Does it?

4 comments:

Jack Jodell said...

Rich,
Sorry you've been a victim of S.A.D. This winter, though, has been very brutal for the entire country. 47 of the 48 continental states have been snowed upon, in some cases quite heavily.

You mentioned having driven off some people in your life. I wish that weren't so, because once you've lost a friend, it's terrible. My only advice would be to look outward rather than inward. If you make an honest attempt at reaching out to someone who really needs to be reached out to, you WILL reap dividends. Sometimes, when we're all wrapped up in our own problems, we inadvertantly cut other people off. By opening one's eyes and really looking around us, we can all make an important difference in someone else's life. And when we do, we BOTH benefit and are both happy.

I would encourage you to reach out to someone who needs it. Yes - they DO need you, and yes - you WILL feel better! Good luck! You'll do well...

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jack - of course I knew all that, but knowing it and acting on it are rarely the same thing. One of the friends I lost was someone very VERY special to me, and even nearly three years after the infraction, this person still refuses even to talk to me. Though gawd nose I keep trying.

But again, thanks, Jack - you have done your part to reach out to someone in need today. That makes you at least a little bit better person than me.

--Rich

Anonymous said...

Rich, you silly son of a bitch. If you can't fix burnt bridges you build new ones. Sorry to hear of your travails. Your old friend, Scooby. PS I normally charge 150 bucks an hour for couch rental but this one's on me.

Cletis L. Stump said...

Rich, for whatever it's worth, you write better than most everyone out here in the blogosphere. Also, Jack has given you some good advice but first rule out chemical imbalances. Unfortunately, chemistry trumps Zen every time. My life has been difficult...polio, cancer etc. but my brain chemistry has been essentially alright. All men suffer and all men should take help when it's available. You have astonishing intelligence. That's obvious. Reach out, let go of what is already gone no matter how difficult, and extend your hand to others when you are strong enough to do so. I wish you the very best.