It’s a cold February Friday night. All my friends are at mixers or parties or someplace getting drunk and having fun. I’m sitting in my room doing pretty much nothing. It’s not that I wasn’t invited to go out. I don’t have the energy or the will to try and have a fun time. I’m just sad.
Sure, I could talk about the obvious flaws of winter such as below-zero temperatures and dry, chapped skin from wind burn, but that’s not the part that bothers me most about the season. It’s the depression.
As of 2010, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 9 percent of American adults are occasionally depressed and 3.4 percent suffer from major depression.
Depression includes symptoms such as weight fluctuations, loss of pleasure from things you used to enjoy, a feeling of worthlessness and suicidal thoughts.
These symptoms can surface or heighten during the winter months causing what’s known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
How perfect of an acronym, right?
Doctors are unsure what technically causes SAD, but Webmd.com says one theory is a lack of sunlight leading to less serotonin, the hormone that relates to good health physically, socially and emotionally.
One of the most common symptoms of SAD that I dealt with every night over winter break was insomnia. I wouldn’t stay up late watching television, playing videogames or reading. I would just lie in bed with my eyes closed, but I wouldn’t fall asleep.
I would close my eyes for hours at a time, only there were no dreams, no nightmares, just darkness, exhaustion and a head full of racing thoughts.
During the day, I was a zombie. I’d go quite a while before I remembered I have to eat food and drink water. I didn’t feel hungry, but I knew if I didn’t eat, then that would probably make things a lot worse.
Over the break I turned 21, and a fun activity, such as going out and drinking at the bars with my friends, should have cheered up my spirits. It didn’t.
Drinking became a chore after the first two weekends. It used to be fun, but winter depression caused partying to be a pretty unenjoyable endeavor. I didn’t really feel like doing anything.
After a long day of working on stories and reading textbooks for class, the only thing I have energy to do is nothing. When my friends want me to go out and have fun, I feel terrible declining them.
The worst part is I’d like to think I’m not a depressing character. I can get emotional, but most of the time, I’m really laid-back and positive. In the summer, you’ll find me walking around town barefoot, doing poorly-executed cartwheels and playing my ukulele outside.
Don’t get me wrong, winter is a beautiful time of year. It has Christmas, skiing and snowboarding, ice skating and all that wonderful snow, but it gets pretty old after the first month or so.
Winter can be a real conman, especially in a place like Plattsburgh. It lures you in with its snow-filled wonderland, but then slowly turns into an icy prison that just won’t let you go.
Email Griffin Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org