The Saddest Time of Year

Who’s ready for good ol’ fashioned PSA, courtesy of Winter Break?

Game of Thrones tried to warn us. The delightfully macabre catchphrase of the show’s protagonist family, “Winter is coming”, is one that is meant to be taken as a warning— a reminder for constant vigilance because your enemies are around the corner. Out in the real world, winter is already here and instead of the beheaded patriarchs and medieval sass of Game of Thrones, our winter is a much craftier, silent enemy. It’s also a hell of a lot sadder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder—nicknamed SAD because the doctors who come up with these sort of things have no concept of subtlety—affects a large portion of the population each year, darkening moods and bittering what is marketed as the “Most Wonderful Time of Year”. Suffers of SAD notice a steady decline in happiness and joie de vivre as November rolls in, lasting until late March; coincidentally (or maybe be intentionally?), the months that Game of Thrones is off the air. Symptoms include increased anxiety, lack of energy, insomnia, irritability, weight gain, and the desire to stay in bed watching reruns of Disney shows for entire afternoons.

Although all men must die, that does not mean that all men must be sad as they go. Treatment for SAD is sort of a hit-or-miss, hodgepodge of medications, home remedies, and consultations with evil shamans. Most commonly, SAD suffers are told to find the light. I don’t mean religion, although I can’t see how that would hurt, but light as in literal light. The main cause of SAD is thought to be tied to the decreased levels of Vitamin D we get in the winter, so, naturally, it makes sense that the solution would simply be to get more sunlight. Open your curtains more, is what I’m saying.

A lot of people will try to tell you that getting over depression (and SAD) is all about doing more of the things you love or being active. Which is a nice sentiment, it really is, but one that is obviously given by someone who has never dealt with the problem themselves. With SAD and other mental illnesses like anxiety, it’s sometimes hard to get out of bed, let alone up and actually doing something that requires energy.     

What is important to remember is that dealing with the problem is a unique process for each person, as no one knows your body better than you. So maybe getting up at dawn to go for a hike through the rugged outdoors is the key for you to get through the winter. Or maybe your cure lies in hormone treatments and therapy. And maybe it lies in eating a comical amount of chocolate cake. Whatever floats your boat.

You’re not on Game of Thrones, where everyone suffers near-constantly, due to everyone they know being murdered and/or imprisoned and/or turned into a dragon warrior who eats the heart of men for sport. The winter blues is something you might have to deal with, but it’s not something you have to let ruin your life.



Ashley is a senior Creative Writing major from Payette, Idaho.