Column: Seasonal depression: A first world problem?
Oct. 11, 2011
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
I'm sitting on the columns, staring up at the yellow glow of the dome of Jesse Hall, still dim in the fading afternoon light. The hot weather must have the trees confused, because the thermometer is suggesting a trip to Tiger Grotto but the calendar is more inclined to football games and trips to a corn maze.
The trees are changing beautifully and rapidly, but the only leaves I'm really focusing on are the brown ones falling on the ground. If I keep my eyes downcast long enough the dead, brown leaves completely block out the pretty oranges, reds and yellows in the oaks above me.
There's no concrete reason I can locate for my generally dismal mood. It's a beautiful fall Saturday. I'm going to meet all of my friends for dinner and a movie in an hour, and the fact I'm having trouble thinking of anything in my near future that is any less than great should be evidence enough that everything is fine.
But when I look back across the Quad and trace leaf after leaf gliding and flipping to and fro toward the grassy sea stretching towards Jesse, something still doesn't feel right.
Sound familiar, or not so much?
Well, every year as the leaves start to turn and the weather calls for quarter-zips and jeans, millions of people around the world suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, creatively acronymed SAD, or also known as seasonal depression.
The change in weather, loss of daylight and devastation related to the end of summer cause depression that is prevalent enough for doctors to consider SAD a legitimate medical condition.
Of course, I don’t think one fall night of a bad mood makes me a candidate for SAD, and, for those actually diagnosed with it, SAD might actually be more serious for actual cases than I can understand.
But, with my own bad moods and general post-summer woes, I’m starting to wonder if I can make an actual case for seasonal depression by blaming my bad mood on nothing more than pretty falling leaves, cool fall weather and apple cider.
In light of Twitter’s recent popular trending topic, I’ve been thinking that SAD, or at least my own little mini episode of it, is possibly nothing more than a #firstworldproblem.
To put things in perspective, my mom called me last week and told me that Stephen, a friend I went to high school with, had been shot and killed. When I went home to Detroit last weekend, the little card from his funeral was sitting on my desk, and he looked like the same baby-faced kid that I knew in high school.
I couldn't find any news article about the shooting online, so all I know is that my mom's coworker will never have her son back, because he is no longer here, and the fact that I am is definitely more than enough for me to shrug off my mild case of self-diagnosed seasonal depression.
How do I deal with shorter days and colder weather? I turn on my Halloween jack o' lantern lights and throw on a sweatshirt. How do I fulfill my urge to sit around and wallow? I sit on tall stone columns and stare at the campus that costs thousands of dollars to attend and is financially out of reach for well over 90 percent of the world.
Yeah, things are rough. Maybe the next time I get sick of the all-I-can-eat food at Mark Twain Market, I can blame it on the pretty Red Maple leaves and all the pumpkin-flavored foods and drinks available all over Columbia.
As pretty as fall has been at MU this year, I’m determined to keep any signs of SAD at bay as much as possible. I’m not sure if my E.Z. Charge will be able to support that many Pumpkin Spice Lattés, but it’s definitely a cause worth fighting for.
Since I'm blessed enough to be around to see my 19th fall, I'm not going to let a few minor fall blues keep me from being grateful for it.