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On Seasonal Depression
A fun look back at my east coast S.A.D.ness
When I first moved to LA, I found myself at a small party showing movies on a projector. A buddy encouraged me to screen my short TUB, which had just made the rounds at film festivals. I told him it didn’t seem like a good idea. It wasn’t much of a “party movie.”
He won out, and afterward, awkwardness lingered around the bean dip.
“Are you okay?” a complete stranger asked me. “You must have some sort of mental problem, huh?”
Of course, I would go on to make The Cleanse, a creature feature that confronted mental illness head-on. Sometimes, at screenings, as the credits rolled, I would find a teary-eyed person in the back of the theatre. I knew the film didn’t work on that level for everyone, but when it did, I felt lucky. Like I connected.
It was chilly the other night, and I remembered the crippling depression I would get every winter season. It was all pre-Los Angeles. My east coast days in NJ, Philly, and NYC. Seasonal depression would slink over me like a rubber suit.
Sometimes, my depression would get so bad that I physically ached. I had trouble getting out of bed. Brain fog. Sometimes, my memory would vanish. At work, I had to write down basic reminders because I simply couldn’t recall things. I took pleasure in nothing. I was sleepwalking, just getting by.
And then spring came, and the fog lifted.
I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to fix this problem. Early on, I went on anti-depressants, but it didn’t jive, so I tried to figure things out naturally. I’ve used St. John’s Wort from time to time. But exercise and meditation were the only things that really helped.
Getting to the gym is a nightmare when you’re depressed. Walking was an easier sell for me. I’d walk from Washington Heights to Union Square. Trying to get out of the funk. But, no matter how far I walked, it still lingered.
These days, I can walk around the neighborhood and feel better after. It’s for this reason alone that I’ll never move back east. Still, I sometimes get a whiff of depression during the season change. It feels manageable now, a faint echo of an echo of an echo. But I remember those hard days, and I hope this finds you all surviving.
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