June 12th, 2014


How many Ds do you have that are actually pretty normal?

So a bunch of people yesterday referred to SAD. You might have noticed I also mentioned this in my post. Seasonal Affective Disorder is apparently found in approximately 6% of people at our latitude, and a milder form in a further 20-25%. It's more common in women, and supposedly likely to decrease as one ages. They don't really know what causes it, but one site I read says this:

""Some say it might be because reduced sunlight disrupts circadian rhythms that regulate the body clock, telling us when it's time to sleep and wake up.

"Some have theorised it's melatonin related. This is a sleep-related hormone and production increases during the long nights of winter.

"Other research would say look at serotonin, a neurotransmitter triggered by sunlight. We know quite often when people are depressed they have lower levels of serotonin," Dr Wu says."

Which is all not really saying anything. Anyway, I can tick all the boxes for this disorder (this is not news to me by the way), except the oversleeping one. I pretty much can't sleep in, and am usually awake an hour or so before dawn, no matter what time of year it is.

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So I'd like to respectfully suggest that we should perhaps stop labelling everything outside that narrow band of Normal as a disorder. If 30% of the population are exhibiting a certain behaviour, then perhaps it belongs inside that band, and we should consider widening our parameters of Normal. Just a thought.

However, I'm also aware that society is unlikely to read this and go "Oh shit, Tats is right, perhaps we should shorten working hours in winter and let people hibernate a bit." So I looked into light therapy. If I want to get a light box, I can expect to pay between $200 and $350 for one, with replacement bulbs being $60. Yep, New Zealanders pay the Far Distant Island Premium on EVERYTHING. And yes, I take Vitamin D. It was me that recommended this to some of my friends. I get outside for about an hour a day, get plenty of exercise, and eat reasonably well despite my urge to eat nothing but potato chips and ice cream from May through to September. I can consider adding the light box but again, it frustrates me that I have to consider this rather than society looking at itself and going "This is unnatural and we should stop it."

And yes, I think holidays and rituals do make a difference. Someone pointed out yesterday that in the Northern Hemisphere the holidays are focused in the winter months. While that means y'all probably don't get to go water skiing at Christmas time like we do, you also don't have that stretch of 5 months with no holidays through the darkest part of the year. You have a break in the daily grind of unnatural behaviour to look forward to. We have a great summer full of holidays, and in winter we zombie our way through what feels like The Longest Dungeon Crawl Ever**, and it's hard. I would happily sacrifice Wellington Anniversary Day, Anzac Day and Waitangi Day in order to celebrate the solstice, Matariki and the first day of spring with long weekends. It would make a difference, because it would break the grind into manageable chunks.

(never mind that having to play mind-tricks on yourself such as 'only four weeks to get through till I get one extra day off' is a whole different lot of capitalist bullshit)

* Forget Marx, go read yourself some Foucault on governmentality. It's enlightening. Ha ha, enLIGHTening. I kill me.
** Longer than the Deep Roads, and we all know how long they are.