Saturday, July 23, 2005

Published July 23, 2005
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

I'm sure you're all sick of my whining about the summer temperatures. Let me offer my apologies and an explanation. I have just been diagnosed by a mental health expert on a reputable website called with Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder.

If you're familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD, its eerily appropriate acronym), you'll know that it is a form of depression that presents itself in the winter months and is thought to be caused by the lack of sunlight and its effect on the hypothalamus. Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, which occurs in 1/10th of all cases of SAD, is depression which finds its onset in the summer months.

Not to impugn the reputation of, but I'm not sure I agree with their diagnosis. Summer makes me feel sad, cranky, annoyed, and hopeless, but it wasn't always this way. When I lived in Kingsville, TX, where the humidity made every day a wet t-shirt contest and hot winds blew strong enough to give Hurricane a run for its money, I managed to keep on a happy face. In Del Rio, TX, desert temperatures often reached as high as 115, and still I noticed no measurable change in my cheerful mood.

The problem seems to have begun when I moved to the great state of Utah, and the city of St. George in particular. It seems I have a version of SAD that is, as yet, undiagnosed. I'm on the cutting edge of mental health exploration, and I didn't even know it!

I thought about calling my ailment Utah Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder (URSAD), but the acronym seemed a bit accusatory. So, I changed it to InterMountain Seasonal Affective Disorder (IMSAD) as it summed up my own feelings rather well. Then I realized that seemed exclusionary, and since many others are feeling the same way, I changed it again to Utah State Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder (USRSAD), but of course, the atrocious use of grammar kept me from using that.
When I really got down to thinking about it, I realized the state itself is not to blame as much as the practices of its people. Summer never caused a problem before because I lived in areas that understood the value of central air conditioning. When temps climbed, all I had to do was run from my air conditioned car to my air conditioned house, and life was good.

Here in Southern Utah, I'm subjected instead to the "energy efficient", "environmentally friendly," ultimately depressing invention called the Swamp Cooler, a machine that is purported to lower the temperature in my house as much as 20 degrees below the outside temperature. Yesterday, it was 115 degrees outside. You do the math!

This brings up a whole new list of possibilities for the name of my disease. How about No Air Conditioning Affective Disorder (NACAD)? Sounds too much like naked, which is what I'd like to be right now.

Swamp Cooler's INeffective Disorder (SCID) makes a lot of sense, as my cooler is thoroughly ineffective at cooling my house in the face of any humidity or triple digit temperatures. It might also be fun to tell people I live in the SCIDS.

I'm thinking I'll end up calling my disorder People Are Big Fat Liars And The Next Person Who Says A Swamp Cooler Works As Well As An Air Conditioner Will Get A Kick In The Head Disorder (PABFLATNPWSASCWAWAAACWGAKITHD). It's hard to pronounce, isn't clever at all, but I think it truly captures my suffering.

That, and I like the thought of my insurance company having to cover my kickboxing classes.