Seeking to Banish Fall’s Blues…

It’s amazing, but as soon as the weather gets cooler, the days become shorter and the leaves turn yellow, I begin to feel a mild case of S.A.D – Seasonal Affective Disorder. Though typically I am perfectly able to shake the blues with a warm, fragrant bath or an extra helping of chocolate bonbons, this time around my mental malaise has been more difficult to chase away. If I think of the reasons why, I can surely come up with a million plus: work has been a whole lot of deferred payments at a time when money just isn’t coming in from ANYWHERE; most men I have met aren’t interested in anyone over 25 years of age, brain facultative, these days; my alternate business has seen more holes poked into it than my Italian grandmother’s pasta colander; even my beloved passion of Indian cinema has not borne any fruits and only caused me a whole lot of frustration while trying to defend my views AND most of my friends are in the same exact boat at the moment, hence completely unable to help themselves let alone their needy friend in need. It’s been an uphill battle all summer and now my body and psyche are paying the ultimate price. 

So today I spoke to the one person who holds all the answers for me: Dr. Hero. Part Bollywood hunk, part Grey’s Anatomy cool, part same-age uncle with wisdom to spare, Dr. Hero is the prize I received in payment of many years of shoddy health care and no insurance. I came back from Ethiopia in 1998 with an ‘incurable’ intestinal parasite, went to Dr. Hero as my last human hope and within two days – and six pills later – I was my old self again. Indeed, because Dr. Hero WILL NOT take your Aetna or Blue Cross or whatever card you carry in your wallet for payment but he DOES cure all illnesses, be it mental, physical or spiritual. He is my beloved fountain of youth, spiritual temple, Mount of Olives and Freud-slash-Paulo-Coelho in one. My dear Dr. Hero. He administers wisdom at the speed of light.

So, after the good doctor shared with me the cause of my malaise – he called it the ‘shock the rat’ syndrome, I’ll explain in a minute – I found relief in the simple state of acceptance. This graphically named syndrome refers to a lab rat being tied down and shocked multiple times, until his will to live and do are wiped away. In these dire times most of us have been pushed to our limits. Our bosses are impossible, if we are lucky enough to still have a job, our working situations meager at best and when we get together with our friends after work, all they ever do is complain about their own horrible working conditions. As a result, our brain loses the ability to even enjoy those things that previously would always bring us joy. It’s an actual medical condition, called ‘Anhedonia’. Although most often seen hand in hand with depression, Anhedonia can be present in a person after the clinical depression itself has been treated and of course, before the onset of the actual illness. The word simply means ‘inability to experience joy’. OK, so most of us reading – and WRITING – this may not be clinically depressed, but that powerful word did jar me into action.

Some of the best therapy for this kind of mental malaise is to do exactly the opposite of what your mind wants to do. If you wish to curl into a ball under the comforter with the TV on CBS’ Monday night comedy line-up, then get dressed, call some friend and meet up for an early dinner instead. If you want to drink and eat yourself to sleep tonight, go and get a beer with a work buddy instead… In my case, if you want to avoid Bollywood’s mush like the plague these days, buy yourself some tickets to the upcoming SAIFF film festival. And so on, and on, you get the message. All part of the wonderful advice from Dr. Hero himself.

There are some drugs and supplements out there that can help, but I am all for mood-enhancing foods. I think for now I’ll leave St. John’s Wort and 5-HT to those who know what they are and how to use them… I have gone and found a few wonderfoods that have started to help me already and look forward to trying more in the coming days. Here are just a few suggestions from your Ajnabee friend…

leafy greens – They are high in Folic Acid which help in raising one’s mood. Most depressed people have very low levels of Folic Acid.

eggs – the true wonderfood, these little treasures of health contain triptophan, part of Serotonin’s make up.

beans, lentils, chickpeas – indeed, when the mean blues hit you, hit the local hummus joint.

whole grains, whole wheat breads and pasta – complex carbs which take a while to break down in the body and give us a general feeling of satisfaction. Anyone who has an Italian family absolutely understands this one!

OK, so I am off to my lavender bath, which is yet another way to find joy in the smallest of things, and after that will relish digging into the juicy grapefruit I got from my friendly fruitseller on 14th Street – the one who speaks to me in Hindi and actually pretends to understand what I answer him back in the language! Because I have always found Vitamin C and a great smile to be the best mood enhancer of all! Oh, and I might just get myself a Full Spectrum Light Box to stare into through the winter… 

Do share your own tips for making it all a bit less drab with all of us! 

‘How I Met Your Mother’ image courtesy of CBS Television

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3 Responses to “Seeking to Banish Fall’s Blues…”

  1. Pooja:

    You should know that anyone would be lucky to have your company on a sad, cold day…and if having kids around won’t bog you down – I am waiting for your call to come over. . . till then, I will read what you have to say and hope that you feel better, soon!

  2. Lizzie:

    Wow!!! Dr. Hero seem to be an amazing guy!!! I want a doc like that….smart, funny and opinionated (is that a word?)
    So, who’s Dr. Hero???

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