The rain that began overnight is accomplishing what 50 degree temperatures and sun could not: Putting a serious dent in the concrete-like layer of ice that has covered our driveway for the past month.
Mud now replaces the ice in most places along what some has said is the most infamous driveway in Floyd County — a steep, 450-foot long mountain trail that challenges even our Jeeps.
I last rode my motorcycle exactly one month ago: My birthday on Dec. 17. With luck, I’ll be able to negotiate the off-road trail also known as our driveway on Monday and put some miles on the Harley Super Glide.
Those who ride know that cruising on two-wheelers is therapy — and after this past month I can use all the therapy that the Harley can deliver.
Psychiatrists call the depression that comes with gloomy winter weather “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” which has the appropriate acronym of “SAD.”
Dr. Carol E. Watkins of Northern County Psychiatric Associates in Baltimore describes SAD:
Throughout the centuries, poets have described a sense of sadness, loss and lethargy which can accompany the shortening days of fall and winter. Many cultures and religions have winter festivals associated with candles or fire. Many of us notice tiredness, a bit of weight gain, difficulty getting out of bed and bouts of “the blues” as fall turns to winter.
However some people experience an exaggerated form of these symptoms. Their depression and lack of energy become debilitating. Work and relationships suffer. This condition, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may affect over 10 million Americans while the milder, “Winter Blues” may affect a larger number of individuals.
The typical symptoms of SAD include depression, lack of energy, increased need for sleep, a craving for sweets and weight gain. Symptoms begin in the fall, peak in the winter and usually resolve in the spring. Some individuals experience great bursts of energy and creativity in the spring or early summer. Susceptible individuals who work in buildings without windows may experience SAD-type symptoms at any time of year. Some people with SAD have mild or occasionally severe periods of mania during the spring or summer. If the symptoms are mild, no treatment may be necessary. If they are problematic, then a mood stabilizer such as Lithium might be considered. There is a smaller group of individuals who suffer from summer depression.
With all due respect to Dr. Watkins, there is a much simpler explanation: Lousy weather puts people in a lousy mood. When you have a storm like the one that dumps up to two feet of the snow on the ground and then follow it up with sub-freezing temperatures that makes the snow on the ground last longer than some marriages you have a recipe for depression. Frozen water pipes, power outages, impassable driveways and other discomforts of bitter winter weather add to the mood-altering state.
While I am not much for for psycho-babble, I can understand how prolonged bad weather can sink even the most optimistic of spirits. When you factor in the current economic conditions that have left too many out of work, scrambling to pay bills and struggling to hold on to their homes you it’s little wonder many are depressed.
The politicians who masquerade as leaders of our country tell us things are getting better but they are lying — which is about the only thing they do with any consistency. Unemployment remains at 10 percent and that is a phony number. It’s closer to double that when you factor in those who long ago gave up looking for jobs that aren’t there.
Lord, no wonder people are depressed in this winter season.
At least I have a Harley to ride and boost my spirits?
What’s your therapy for beating the blues of winter?