Boomeresque:Definition
1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

How Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Deal With Seasonal Affective Disorder

by Suzanne Fluhr on January 28, 2013 · 20 comments

First of all, probably all you people who have the good sense to reside within 30 degrees north latitude and 30 degrees south latitude can go finish the dishes, take out the trash, walk the dog, read a book, go for a bike ride or engage in whatever indoor or outdoor activity makes you happy. The rest of you all y’all, read on. (Boomeresquers from south of the Mason Dixon line in the United States, assure me that “all y’all” is the plural of y’all.)

Every year, I try to convince myself that my Seasonal Affective Disorder (which cleverly has the acronym of SAD) is all in my head — that just because in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania tomorrow the sun will rise at 7:12 A.M. and set at 5:14 P.M., (nicely coinciding with most people’s commuting and work schedule), and just because there is a winter weather advisory posted by the United States Weather Service, does not mean I have to be sullen, irritable, sleepy and frankly, so unpleasant that I don’t even want to be around myself.

weather map Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Weather Map for Philadelphia: Blue is Snow, and Pink is “Wintry Mix”

No, dammit, I have the following options:

  • I could go on the internet and try to find a way outta here by looking for last minute travel deals to warm places;
Club Med

Club Med, Bahamas (Photo Credit, Club Med)

  • I could sit for hours in front of a “Happy Light” a/k/a “sunshine simulator” and hope that I don’t get malignant melanoma.
  • I could  show up on my son’s doorstep in Miami Beach, Florida. “Surprise!” Hmm, maybe not so good for familial harmony.
  • I could go to visit my friend in Helsinki, Finland who actually deserves to have SAD. There is a reason Finns drink the most coffee per capita than any other country in the world.
  • I could convince Mr. Excitement that it is imperative that he fly to Honolulu to confer with his collaborator at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center  — in February. I am, of course, thinking about all the poor people with cancer  — and by the way, he’ll be happier with a trailing spouse (moi) and while we’re there, we might as well go on a cruise and that will provide grist for my travel blog, so it’s a win-win.
OR
  • I could go to my doctor and beg for anti-depressants.
Check back in a few weeks to see which option I chose.

Do you (or someone you know) have Seasonal Affective Disorder?  If so, what do you or they do to cope?

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Heppsuba January 28, 2013 at 7:59 pm

My daughter, who lives in Seattle, has a big light which she has positioned over her side of the bed so that she can sleep under or beside it for 30 minutes before work each morning during the low-light months. Since she has been doing this (for three yearly cycles now, with her physicians’ blessings), her SAD has diminished so markedly that she (who has never been a “morning person”) gets up at 5:15 each morning to turn on the light. Even if the claims that exposure to that amount of the type of light the machine emits will not cause cancer are not fully accurate, she finds the correlation between using the light and remission of her SAD so convincing, and her new quality of life so compelling, that she will definitely continue with this light therapy. You may want to consider taking another look at light therapy.

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer January 28, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Fascinating. Do you know what brand of light she uses? I seriously might try it —- after we go to Hawaii? 😉
Does she use the light year round? I know Seattle is famous for a high ratio of cloudy days. I have struggled with a tendency towards day-night reversal my entire life. I wonder if it would help with that. You mentioned “her side of the bed”. Hoe does her sleep partner feel about the light?

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avatar Stacia January 29, 2013 at 2:17 pm

I never knew that I suffered from SAD until I moved to Los Angeles and was forced to adjust to 365 “nice” days a year. At first, I did a lot of squinting. What was that bright yellow thing in the sky? Why did the closest strip mall have an outdoor escalator? And, most disturbing – why was everyone so trim and fit and happy? It took me a few months to adjust and get used to the daily anti-depressant of sunshine and a total absence of humidity. (My hair was VERY happy). But after five years, I just couldn’t take another “nice” day, so I moved back to Philly where the overcast skies match my morbid mood six months of the year and I don’t have to make any excuses for sleeping til noon and refusing to meet friends if it means getting out of bed.

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avatar Just One Boomer (Suzanne) January 29, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Yeah, I can see how too much sunshine could also get oppressive. Every once in a while, we all need a day that is dismal enough to allow for guilt free comfort food and cocooning.

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avatar Donna Hull January 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I think this definitely calls for a trip to Hawaii. For many years, I suffered with seasonal affective disorder, but it was just one component of a life that wasn’t working for me. Once I made changes, much of the SAD issue went away. When I lived inArizona, I found the bright sun to be very addictive. No matter where else I traveled, the sun wasn’t bright enough for me. Another tip: no matter how dreary the day, get outside and move.

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avatar Just One Boomer (Suzanne) January 29, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Do you think the cold also adds a SAD component or is it just the amount of sunlight? In Montana is it a sunny cold or do you also have a lot of winter gray days? Fortunately, having to walk our dog gets me outside everyday, but when it’s cold and gray and bright snow has changed to city slush and mud, that really doesn’t help very much.

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avatar Gaelyn January 29, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Don’t take the pills. Go with traveling into sunshine and exercise. Seattle got me down after 12 gray days in a row. Haven’t been diagnosed with SAD but it happens.

Have fun in Hawaii.

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer January 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Hawaii is definitely getting most of the votes for a SAD coping mechanism 😉 We’ll be there from February 14th (yes, Valentine’s Day) until February 27th — our usual work/play combo trip.

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avatar Nancy January 31, 2013 at 2:13 am

I live in Portland, OR. We have dark, damp and dreary weather from early December until sometime in May, June or July. Prozac Nation. I’m looking for escape to Mexico for 5-6 weeks next winter. Or, perhaps somewhere new in South America. Maybe I’ll see you there?

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avatar Just One Boomer (Suzanne) January 31, 2013 at 5:04 am

Thanks for your comment. The Pacific Northwest and Vancouver in Canada have great reputations as places to live — except for the number of gray days. There is definitely something to be said for getting out of Dodge during some of the winter months (and maybe even the spring if it’s rainy). Where do you generally go to in Mexico to escape the grayish winter blahs?

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avatar Johanna at ZigaZag WA Travel and Lifestyle February 4, 2013 at 3:41 am

I feel for you, and I really do think SADs exists – I too used to get thoroughly fed up when I lived in the UK. February was the worst month 🙁 So lucky and count my blessings now though because we live in probably one of the sunniest states in the World – Western Australia. And yes, I am a happy Boomer – most of the time!

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer (Suzanne) February 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm

We’ve actually had the good fortune to be able to visit Western Australia twice. My husband has a physician scientist collaborator in Perth. I agree. Now would be a good time to invite ourselves for a visit. Unfortunately, Perth is about as far from our hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA as anywhere in the world — literally, half a world away.

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avatar Faisal February 11, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Try living in Canada 🙁 Our days are even shorter in the winter and living in Vancouver, it rains from October to May, very depressing. At least our weather is mild.

On a positive note, spring is almost here 🙂

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer February 11, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Whenever I’m depressed during the winter, I do take comfort in the fact that at least I don’t live in Canada. I wish Canada had a warmer climate because as an American, whenever our politics get too crazy down here, we all think about emigrating to Canada. 😉

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avatar Faisal February 12, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Vancouver has a very nice climate, if you can handle the rain, the coldest day we’ve had this winter has been 32F (0 C) and last Sunday the temperature was in the high 50’s to low 60’s.

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avatar Leora March 13, 2013 at 6:50 pm

I’ve had issues with fall depression in the past. But I don’t think it was real SAD.

Blogging is a great outlet for depressive feelings – instead of blogging about the negatives, however, I blog about what feels good. Painting or sketching with others works well for me, too.

Some friends who have moved to warmer climates are happier. Others moved to a warm place, only to have a grown child move to snowy New England! We all have our own preferences.

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer March 13, 2013 at 10:17 pm

I suppose blogging can be like journaling — with an audience. I find a 2 week dose of warm sunshine in mid-winter helps.

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