I can’t write another word until I confess that I get depressed in winter.  Call it Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Call it psychosis.  Call it what you want, but no matter how hard I try to stay upbeat, the universe looks dark and negative in January.  It’s a browbeater:  you’re lazy, foolish, impatient, totally lacking talent.  You’re a whiner, a klutz, a bore.  If there were a God, He wouldn’t like you.  Nothing good is ever going to happen to you again.  You’re destined for the street.  You’re going to die die die. And you smell.

You get my drift?

Fortunately for me, I have a friend, Ann, who feels the same way, winters, only she works a lot harder than I do to bring herself into balance.  She bought a light screen and sits in front of it a half an hour each day.  This year, her husband bought her a light cap—that is, a baseball cap with lights underneath the bill, so she can walk around while getting her day’s worth of sunshine.  She exercises routinely and tries to stay with the working habits she has created in her “wellness” periods to keep the collateral damage to a minimum. In other words, she doesn’t want to drive her family crazy too.

I just called her and told her I had dropped a mental notch.  “How are YOU doing?” I ask. 

“I feel fine, I really do, except that I periodically break into tears, so I know I’m not exactly fine.” 

Thank heaven.  What if one January, she said, “I’m totally over that misery.  I feel as high as an elephant’s eye.  What is your problem?

Hello, is Sylvia Plath there?  May I borrow your oven for a half an hour?

I don’t mean it.  I’m always glad when Ann feels well, even if I don’t.  I’m glad when Ann writes better than I do.  That’s how much I like Ann.

This morning she talks me out of the trees. Mostly, she reminds me that I’m in a transitional period, that life has its ebbs and flows, and that I always manage to get to the next point.

I tell her how wise she is.  She denies it, but I’m right.

I decide to sit in front of my computer two hours every morning even if it’s just to stare into that menacing eye. 

Years ago, in February in Minnesota, I cut out a list of things to do if depression hit and hung them on my refrigerator door.  The first item on the list (and the only one I remember) was, “Get up and do something.”

Work is always the answer.