Seasonal Aggressive Disorder

When I was looking at colleges, I toured around Carnegie Mellon. At one point, walking around the campus, surrounded by funky Pittsburgh industrial buildings, my mom said, “I do have one concern, Lolo. Your Nana and I are concerned about how little sunshine there is here.”

Pittsburgh ranks pretty low on the Sunshine Index, which is a real thing.

It’s the 11th lowest in the US, actually. As in, 11 from the bottom of the cities of the US. As in, this list has 175 cities. Boston, my original home, is ranked number 98. Minneapolis, city of my college years, is 102. Chicago is 131. Pittsburgh is 164.

Anyway, my mom was concerned, because she knew that her side of the family has a touch of the old Seasonal Affective Disorder. Apparently age is not the only reason my grandparents moved to Savannah and then Charlotte. We didn’t know whether–or how much–it would affect me in the years away from relatively-sunny Boston, so she packed me off to college with a little sunlight lamp that proceeded to be the least reliable light fixture I have ever had.

College wasn’t that bad, even through the Minnesota winters. Notice that M’pls doesn’t rank too far below Boston–even in the winter, we got some sunshine. And while that is still true here in Chicago, and while I don’t think I would ever need sunlamp therapy for SAD, I definitely notice the correlation between my ability to shake off a bad mood and the number of clouds in the sky.

Me and everyone else, of course. Like OCD, SAD is something that everyone has to some extent. We need our Vitamin D, and too much dreary gray will get all but the most dedicated Pollyannas down. That doesn’t mean we have to like it.

So here we are, late February. On Monday I had a meeting in a corner office with floor-to-ceiling windows, and as the sun streamed in, I though, “Wow, today is awesome!” Today, after three days of rain, snow, and slush, I practically punched a guy who tried to change one aspect of my evening plans.

Please, Mother Nature. Please confirm what Punxatawney Phil promised us all. Please send spring soon. For my sake, and for the sake of all those plan-changers who like their teeth attached to their gums.


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