Okay, it's not really getting to me. But it sure does get to some who haven't seen the sun in 8 days. We're weather weary, friends, here in the northern latitudes.

So you're not alone if the short days and lack of sunlight are contributing to your alternatively cranky/sad otherwise cheerful disposition.

FD is so sick of SADS he's named it something else,
HLWD, Higher Latitude Winter Dysphoria. One day we should rename all of the disorders. That would be fun. For want of anything better to do.
I for one am feeling a little pent up moving from the house to the car to the office to the car, to the car to the house, the house to the car to the office to the car, with an occasional stop at the grocery store for provisions.

As a younger person, having a winter sport helped. It's a default thing that a person who grew up making snow-people simply doesn't think twice about. If you can't afford a week or two in a warm, sunny climate, then you HAVE to have a winter sport. Hockey, ice skating, snow ball down the back, snow boarding, skiing, not to mention the indoor sports like basketball, volleyball, tennis, racketball, swimming, golf. Okay, not golf.

I think I told you about the last time I skied. Up in Utah, staring at the sky, horizontal. One ski about ten feet away, another nowhere to be found. The clouds looked nice. And the sky in Utah is an unforgettable shade of blue.

There are evergreens in Utah. So although snow tends to be white (and we're talking WHITE white, not slush-white, not gray, not tar-sullied-salt-grainy ochre), the forest-green aspen, those happy blue skies, the sunshine bursting off of snowflakes, well, it doesn't even seem like winter.
It's more like Disneyland without those scary cartoon figures that dance around and shake hands with crying babies.

But most of us can't afford to do that, chase off to Park City or Aspen to ski. We can't even ditch school to drive up to Wisconsin (Alpine Valley) to shake the lead out. So we hate people who do. They're tan!

We've seen you guys with the tans. It hurts, honest, seeing you people looking so healthy, out on a winters days having FUN, coming home from that winter junket looking so INVIGORATED and healthy. Hey, too much sun in Bermuda isn't healthy, either, according to Gentle Doc, my brother the dermatologist. Remind me to tell you one day what he says about skin creams. (Use one, it doesn't matter which one).

So one might think that a winter sport is good for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SADS) the disorder some say is associated with too little vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. Someone once told me that there IS an association, but I'll be honest, it's hard to be vitamin deficient in America unless you're eating disordered or a substance abuser. So I don't buy the vitamin deficiency explanation, although too lazy to look it up right now.

I remember telling a man who had a terrible case of Seasonal Affective Disorder that he ought to get his kids out on a tray and go sledding before it melted. Chicagoans understand that a person doesn't need to buy a real sled to slide down a hill. Since we have only a handful of hills in Chicago, this assignment isn't as easy as it sounds.

The natives here, however, "sled" on lunch trays, newspapers, winter coats, plastic swimming pools, even those colorful plastic disks and sleds sold at Toys R Us that are intended for sledding, if they want to play it safe. Wooden sleds, ala Citizen Kane, aren't even valued. What they lack in originality they make up for with metal glides, not terribly safe, really. Rosebud, that's the name of that sled.

I asked FD if he wanted a snow-blower. He acted as if I had asked if he wanted strep throat. Why would anyone want to give in to that, a snow-blower?

What he's saying is there's something very wonderful about shoveling snow, assuming you don't drop dead doing it (check with your local physician, please, before shoveling snow). There's no hurry to get it done, really the walk.
We're all pretty mellow when it's snowing. If we drive too fast we'll skid and hit someone. If we walk to fast, we'll slip and fall on a hidden patch of ice. When it's coming down, it's best to simply watch. Outside, preferably.

The clean-up, certainly, quite the challenge. Oh, but the quiet of snow! It puts a buffer on the noise of the city, absorbs so many sounds, sounds we don't even realize that we hate! And there we are, carefully moving snow from the sidewalk, making sure we don't break our backs or pull a muscle. And all around, silence.

It's usually a 3-4 Advil affair!

And your neighbors are out, you know, shoveling their walks, saying Howdy. Haven't seen you since the summer. How's the family?

Indeed, if it weren't for snow, no one would stop to talk to anyone in Chicago in the winter. Too darn cold half the time to waste the time. You want to hurry up and get inside so you can do something important like watch TV.

Oh, you wanted to know about SADS, Seasonal Affective Disorder. I think there's something on it somewhere in the archives, but basically, YES, you need to light that house up like a Christmas tree if you can. Pay Com Ed, not your therapist. Use flourescent bulbs to keep the cost of the wattage down.

And yes, diet. Don't let yourself eat too much. On the other hand, a person should gain about five pounds in snowbound climes in the winter. That's just the way it is. We're a little like bears and squirrels, storing it up against the cold. Exceptions are people who are making a simcha (a happy occasion) like a wedding, cotillion, or a bar mitzvah for their kids. That kind of stress, you're allowed to lose weight.

The rest of us have a responsibility to eat more, socialize while eating, and do our best to exercise a little so we don't totally hate ourselves by spring.

Which is why I finally did it, hearkened to Ebay's call and scored the cross-country skis I've threatened to find for years. They haven't arrived yet, and I still have to buy boots (those I just can't bring myself to buy used). And hopefully Z (the vendor, that's really his name!) will remember to send me the poles. Empath Daught says she'd give anything to see me traipse around the city in skis.

Just my luck, this will be the last snow storm of the winter.

Or should I say, just your luck.



Leora said…
I miss x-country skiing. I have only gone once since I moved to New Jersey. No snow here this winter.

it's hard to be vitamin deficient in America unless you're eating disordered or a substance abuser
Strongly, strongly disagree. White flour, white sugar, hydrogenated fats, contaminated dairy and not enough veggies are all standard in American diet.

Google "seasonal affective disorder vitamin D" to read more about the SAD vitamin D connection.
Untreatable said…
this is a wonderful and for some reason uplifting post. Good job
Nutrition Nag said…
Great about the x-country skis. Mine are in my attic; no snow here.

it's hard to be vitamin deficient in America unless you're eating disordered or a substance abuser
Are we talking about the same America? Land of french fries and ketchup is a vegetable? Or in Jewish circles, I'm sure you can get all your nutrients from brisket, a noodle kugel and bodek iceberg lettuce...NOT.

Google Seasonal Affective Disorder Vitamin D for sources on how our body is deficient of Vitamin D if we don't get enough sunlight.

Signing off,

Nutrition Nag
Barbara K. said…
I don't mind a good solid 'noreaster; but this endless grey drizzle and slush needs to make way for spring.

btw - have you seen the new HBO show In Treatment? Just wondering what you think of it, if you have.
This is cute (well, not the SAD part). And I can relate to it on both sides--having grown up in the Chicago area and now living in Colorado. Actually, I can't afford to ski here as much as I'd like (I miss the minimal expense of x-cty skiing without lift tickets). And, this has been an unusually cold and harsh winter here this year. We actually have some black snow and ice like Chicago! Yuck!
therapydoc said…
oh I knew I shouldn't have said that about the vitamins. Fine I take it back. Always the conflict avoider (not always)
therapydoc said…
Barb, I haven't seen it yet. Are they stealing from us?
Deb said…
I actually have a blue light that I keep by my computer during the winter months. It helps alot. I can definitely feel a difference since I have been using it.
therapydoc said…
No question, bring on the light.
Leora said…
oh I knew I shouldn't have said that about the vitamins
No, no, please don't apologize. I enjoyed the opportunity to rant.

I'm not too good at conflict either. Thanks for letting me use your blog to improve my rant skills.
Margo said…
Mom, I've said this before, but I'd give SO MUCH MONEY to see you cross-country skiing down Devon on a Wednesday.
Please, if any of you are lucky enough to bear witness to such a sight, snap a picture and send it my way.
Love and kisses.
therapydoc said…
I'd try to take the bike path by the river, avoid city streets as much as possible, certainly Devon. I'll definitely have your father take a picture, though.

And sure, I'll post it. But don't hold your breath. I'm looking for 3-pin soft boots and apparently they don't make 'em anymore. Z said he had them, but he's been missing in action.

Can I ski in tennis shoes? Or go down trying? This week, on Therapydoc Takes on Winter. Stay tuned.