Whoever decided to have elections while winter kicks off was obviously a sadist. Politics never pairs well with Seasonal Affective Disorder (which sports the cute-as-hell acronym SAD), a depressive disorder that preys upon its victims every year at the same time—usually the fall and winter months—breaking down their mood, killing their appetite and draining their energy. Treatments include light therapy (phototherapy), supplementing omega-3 fatty acids and exercise.
If only it were that easy. A study published earlier this year by the Auburn University at Montgomery found no evidence of SAD in a group of 34,000 adults surveyed by the Center for Disease Control, meaning those winter blues aren't quite what one would call a “disorder.”
That being said, the explanation of seasonal funks could simply be that limited sun exposure means less vitamin D and a higher production rate of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep—a recipe for sluggishness, physical weakness and low motivation. Or winter just sucks.
So the bad news is we don't get to blame our shitty attitudes on the likelihood that we have a mental illness that affects two percent of the population. But the good news is you're not crazy, and the symptoms are indeed there.
Here's what you do: Buy a copy of Smile by the Beach Boys. Put “Heroes and Villains” on and drive to CG Corrigan. If you feel the urge to sing along or possibly nod your head in time to the music, feel free to do so. If at all possible, put it on your phone and continue to listen on your way into the dispensary. (But use headphones and turn the volume down while talking to your budtender. Depression does not excuse rudeness.) Buy some cannabis, go home and smoke it, eat some dietary supplements and go for a walk.
I did. And while it wasn't like waving a wand over my symptoms, it did give me some room to step back from myself and think about them rationally. Realizing they were mostly due to chemical complexities in the brain beyond my purview made them much easier to deal with, and the general sense of well-being I always experience put them in their place.
The first bowl was Chunky Cherry Malawi (THC: 18.28%, CBD: 0.08%—$11 a gram), a hybrid that crosses Cherry Malawi and Deep Chunk. The smell of the bud was pungent enough to make me cough just from waving the fresh flower under my nose. I've been coming around to the hybrids lately, especially if I'm looking for tension release without the dumbing-down that strong indicas can sometimes induce. This one is a good example of why a well-bred hybrid can be so useful. The relaxing indica side relaxed my jaws and shoulders (where I carry all my stress) while the sativa side had me feeling light and giggly. At no point did I feel drowsy or spaced out, meaning this would probably be great for someone who is dealing with chronic pain but can't just tap out all day and watch cartoons.
I could feel my bad mood sliding away. The real sign that it was turning around was when I caught my dog nonchalantly edging toward a forgotten sandwich I'd left out on a table. I laughed without even a hint of the Disney villain cackle in my voice. I decided to double up, as it were.
Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies (THC: 24.06%, CBD: 0.19%—$12 a gram). The stupid name made me salivate. Girl Scout Cookies is one of the strains I'd only read about. The Thin Mint phenotype of the legendary flower smells and tastes sweet and minty—the most aesthetically pleasing strain I've had to date. And the effects were exactly the itch I've been looking to scratch since I got my patient ID card.
My body felt fuzzy with waves of pleasure (indicating some sort of dopamine dump) every few minutes and my recounting of the day’s events to my wife lacked the edge they would usually have. Instead, I was too focused on attempting to express this nebulous idea about virtual reality and mirror neurons that I just … couldn't quite … reach …. The most significant thing I noticed during this time was a complete lack of pain (even those satellite pains us old folks feel from time to time).
Considering our state's problem with opioid addiction and the new study that was just published in the Clinical Psychology Review Journal which found that cannabis might be helpful for addicts attempting to stop using narcotics and alcohol, anything with this kind of pain-killing power should get the red carpet rolled out for it.