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It would be difficult to find more of an expert on the subjects of cold weather, depression or their combination. As for depression, I had a Caesarean birth and came out screaming, clawing and crying, which I managed to sustain for almost my first year. And unfortunately, the unhappiness never really passed away. I was profoundly unpopular at recess but the freezing wind didn't seem to know this, seeing as it hung around me constantly. In highschool, with childish enthusiasm killed off, all this manifested itself as classic depression. So I drag myself around: lethargic, grumpy and essentially disdainful of our society.
As for cold weather, I grew up in Klamath Falls. Klamath Falls is something like Ashland without the pretense of culture, the rain, or the sun. It can only be described as the asshole of a Nordic Frost Giant. Robert Service would feel right at home.
I grew up in the country in a large house that twisted like a pretzel, making it difficult to heat. My parents, who had plenty of money because they never spent it, didn't even try to heat it. Rather, they depended on a black, rusty woodstove. My dad, a big nordic man, would come in from the cold with a heaping stack of wood in his arms and a smile underneath his frosty beard. My step-mom, who grew up in Eugene, would always say of the weather: "It's so nice how it never rains." She was not a submissive woman and so I never told her that this was because, aside from being cold enough to kill penguins, Klamath is officially a desert.
Now, having established my right to speak as an expert, I'll give a few suggestions on coping with seasonal affective disorder.

1.) Yoga: A good Yoga class is good for dealing with any kind of depression. If you can tolerate some new age psycho-babble, you'll find that Yoga asanas will bring your focus to your inner self, and away from the blustering wind outside. They also teach the body to heat itself. A good Yoga teacher may also turn you onto meditation which, aside from any other advantages, is a way to pass the time in your warm apartment. After all, the key to surviving Oregon winters is not leaving the pad.

2.) Good hot coffee: There's a reason why the espresso revolution took place in the Northwest. On a rainy, frozen or otherwise ungodly morning, afternoon or evening, there is nothing like a quality espresso drink. Not only does it warm the body with its temperature, it also digs its black spurs into your metabolism, turning you into an organic heater. As if this weren't enough, it allows you to focus on what you're doing. With your third Tully's in your hand, you'll forget that it's hailing outside and become inexplicably fascinated with the professor introducing you to the idea of "liminality" for the twentieth time or the latest work of magical realism, which is politically correct speak for cartoonish rubbish the authorities want us to think is profound. Drink enough coffee and your mind may become as cloudy as a Seattle winter but there will only be one thought running through your mind: "Fascinating!" and this is exactly what your professors want to hear.
As with every technique, there are some pit-falls. You may start experiencing insomnia. The key to this is to drag yourself out of bed, find your most mindless home-work(insomniacs aren't Einsteins) and make yourself do it. And then there's the sickness factor. Now, if you can afford to drink only espresso, this will go a long way toward preventing sickness. But if you're a poor depressive like myself, you may have to resort to plain old coffee. Just don't buy Folgers, drink it peach-colored and, in my experience, some Bailey's Irish Cream goes a long way toward making the junk palatable.

3.) Exercise: You may find this difficult at SOU, where tuition funds our elite sports teams but there are no free exercise facilities for the average student. And even if you fork over twenty dollars and take up swimming, you'll find that there's neither a sauna nor a jacuzzi. This is hardly a solution for seasonal affective disorder. The racquetball courts, however, are usually open and there's no one there to see if you just pay for them or actually have a right to be there. You'll find that this agressive, sweaty sport may be just what the doctor ordered. Just one tip: Don't run into the walls as this causes many injuries. If you're a klutz, as I am, you eventually will. Just don't throw yourself into the wall to save a point. It's just a game after all and a broken leg won't help your depression.
Personally, I spent much of my youth playing tennis. Imagine it: the frosty Klamath spring, twenty guys running drills, making preppy jokes and trying to put back-spin on tennis balls you could float a raft on. But I'd come home as cheery as I was frost-bitten. But racquetball, an hour of which will leave you hot as a habanero in a Death Valley summer, is really a better therapy.

4.)Good books: I don't think I could make it through a single winter without lots of reading. It's the nature of truly great writing that it deals with universal themes. It will remind you that for every night there's a morning; for every winter a summer; for every depression an exultation. Well, one can pretend anyhow.
But reading is really a self-promoting habit. Once you just shove that depression out of your mind and get through a couple chapters, you'll find you're addicted. You'll lose yourself in the lives of greats, which aren't nearly as depressing as yours, and even marvelling at the artfulness of stories about people like Gandolf and Gatsby: fictions that have as little to do with your life as they do with the price of tea in China, but they will get your mind off the fact that the streets outside are only good for ice-skating and you just completed your own epic quest to get a B on a test and you're not sure why you done it.

5.) I really meant to make this a top ten list but... depression and motivation may rhyme but have nothing else in common. Just remember the advice of Tyler Durden of Fight Club fame: "Let those things that do not matter truly slide." Mid-terms will pass, new educational fads will replace those of today, and the earth's tilt will shift back, bringing on spring and a milder depression. But if you really want to cure your seasonal depression, there's only one thing for it: Learn from the Vikings and go take over some sunnier place like Hawaii. I just talked to my uncle over there and it's seventy degrees without a cloud in the sky.



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Comments

The following comments are for "How To Overcome Seasonal Depression"
by seanspacey

On Walks
Yeah, I love walks, too. But not during the winter; it gets too bloody cold around here. You know, about a year ago, I almost picked up and flew to Hawaii, without a place to live or anything. I just couldn't take one more of these winters. I wrote this for a contest at my college and I figured I might well post it while I was at it.

( Posted by: seanspacey [Member] On: November 29, 2004 )





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