Seasonal Depression

My weekly dinner party for the seasonally depressed was about to start at the local YMCA. My support group says I am slowly making progress, which makes me a little less melancholy, but then I wonder if it’s due to their encouragement, or because mentally I know winter will slowly, but surely, change into spring—a happy, more joyous season…to some.

For the longest time I denied that I had seasonal depression, thinking that maybe I just had good ol’ normal, every day depression. But as I looked through some photo albums I noticed that during the seasons of spring, summer and autumn, the photos show a completely different person. For instance, I am eating in the photographs. And, in several others, I’m vacationing on various beaches. One picture even shows that I enjoy volunteering at places. Another photo, surely taken of me in winter, reveals that I’m overcome with a desire to consume a mixture of Zoloft, Prozac and champagne.

When the first snowflake fell this year, causing me to cry uncontrollably for 45 minutes, I knew that I needed to go to the local YMCA. Luckily they had weekly dinner parties for the seasonally depressed there.

“Seth, it’s so good to see you!” said a female voice. It was Amanda. She’s an autumn. By the extra pep in her tone, and by the month and day on the calendar, I could tell her depression was waning while my depression was significantly waxing. “Hello, Amanda,” I said to her in a voice lacking vigor and eyes that could only be labeled as downcast. Amanda started talking up a storm and I began to miss my dead goldfish. “I’m thinking about taking a trip to New York City this weekend to see a musical. You know, celebrate the end of autumn! Maybe I’ll see ‘Beauty and the Beast’ or ‘Hairspray,’ or maybe both!” It was only a month ago that Amanda whimpered after seeing a Melba cracker. She said it reminded her of how her soul would eventually turn brown along with the leaves. I liked that Amanda.

The room in which the seasonally depressed met was actually a small partitioned section of the YMCA’s basketball gymnasium. Sometimes our dinners would be interrupted by the laughter of children playing basketball on court B. Several more people entered including Brian, Frankie and Jane. Brian was a summer. Frankie was a spring, and I think Jane was a cross between winter and manic. As more people filtered in, the members of each season naturally separated into 4 corners except for Leah, who only became depressed on Groundhog Day, and John, who got sad during leap year. Judging by the tone of the room, the summers were the happiest, the springs were getting a little nervous because they were on deck (I heard murmurs regarding medical bills for

Allegra-D) and the autumns, who were calling Amanda’s idea “magnificent,” were in the beginning phases of organizing a group trip to New York City.

The winters—my group— were huddled together causing an awful odor to permeate the room. We don’t shower in winter, because, well, what’s the point? We began complaining about various things dealing with the absence of daylight. One of our members proposed a plan to turn the clocks back an extra 5 hours during daylight savings. I agreed, and added that the short amount of daylight prohibited me from getting a softball game going at 3:30 p.m., which made me downright sad. The gentleman with the daylight savings idea said that under his plan we could start the game at 3:30 a.m. instead of p.m. That made me happy but only for a tenth of a second.

In the middle of the gym was the buffet table, which was the only place where the members of the four seasons really got to mingle. I remember a conversation I had about 5 months ago with Steve, a summer. He was complaining about the heat. “This heat,” he said while fanning himself vigorously, “This heat is…” his voice just trailed off and then he walked away.

When I got to the buffet table I struck up a conversation with Groundhog Day Leah. She noticed that I was a little down and tried to comfort me by conveying the good points of winter. “What about the holiday season?” Leah asked. “What about the thrill of coming inside to a nice hot cup of cocoa? What about seeing family and cuddling with that special someone in front of a fire on those frigid nights?”

“What about darkness?” I answered. “What about the need to write poetry? What about the urge to go to movie theaters by yourself? What about the dead of winter?” Leah got me talking and I couldn’t stop. I went on and on about my hatred for shoveling snow, my fear of frostbite and how I detest the turtleneck sweater. I had hit bottom for the day, and, seeking comfort, I put my head on Leah’s shoulder. After a second, she began running her hand through my unwashed hair. By her touch I could tell we had reached some level of understanding. “I’ve been talking too much. Tell me about you on Groundhog Day, Leah.”

“I can’t. It’s awful.”

She started talking anyway. She explained how on that day she remained glued to the television, hoping and praying the groundhog might be shot. “Why should a groundhog have that much pull?” she asked. It didn’t make any sense to me either. She then explained her emotional urge to blow up Punxsutawney and build a strip mall in its place. Then, Leah asked me a question that forced me to contemplate the interconnectedness of the world’s population, specifically between people with winter seasonal depression and people who are only depressed on Groundhog Day. “Do you think that ball of disgusting will see his shadow?” Leah asked.

“If God is merciful,” I said, “he will not.”

By : Seth Reiss

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