It takes a certain heroism to fight off the morning sandy-eyes and that voice in your head that keeps considering life as a blanket burrito. Some days you can hardly retaliate against your own chagrin, and by 5 p.m. you feel like you've been walking around with shark teeth in your shoes. Most of these days share a few reliable characteristics.
The alarm has been blaring for an undetermined amount of time. You rip yourself from your bedside and wobble around, conjuring consciousness and coffee. The one big problem is that there's barely more light spilling in from the window than there was before you went to sleep. Is it morning? Are you mourning? Everything about your surroundings scream that you accidentally woke up at 3am, but really you're almost late for your second class.
Enduring your daily routine with a thin film of gloom covering the sky will slowly suck your soul away. That's what's so dastardly; you hardly even notice. You quickly adapt to the melancholy because there's no time to account for rain, snow, or existential dread before your 3pm presentation and that meeting with your advisor.
We subconsciously adjust our baselines, and write the caffeine buzz off as a good mood. We're numb to our own misery, until a sunny day slips through the cracks. I'm not talking about that partly-cloudy noise. I'm talking about the life-breathing baptism that is waking up to glowing windows and bright blue skies.
The birds start the party at 8 a.m., and those little guys spit flutey rhythms for hours to coax you out of your funk. Why is it that on dreary days I only seem to hear the wails of small children and garbage truck indigestion?
The culprit is known as seasonal affective disorder. The acronym for this gunk is literally SAD. It's characterized by feelings of stress, fatigue, irritability, guilt, and a lower sex drive in response to less total sunlight each day. We can afford none of the above.
For the frenzied college student, many of these symptoms sound familiar, but depressive inclinations build as the days get shorter. This can cause significant emotional and physical strain, and should be considered before spiraling into abandon. For me, the most striking indication of this was the way my soul ballooned and exploded from my body on one sunny February day.
Sun deprivation can be quietly devastating. After being sunshine starved for months, I couldn't help but to dance through class and try to befriend any stranger unfortunate enough to make eye contact with me. The benefits of light are immediate, and my sunglasses were rose colored just long enough for me to panic when clouds encroached.
While there's no sell-your-soul fix to eternal sunshine, options are out there. Vitamin D is a hormone precursor produced in skin as a response to sunlight, and numerous studies have linked vitamin D deficiencies to seasonal depression.
While taking the supplement will never replace the bliss of sunbathing, scarce ray rations have me intrigued. Vitamin D also helps facilitate calcium absorption, and low levels of the 'D have been linked to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis and cancer.
I don't want, like, any of those. Many doctors suggest taking a daily vitamin D supplement in an effort to combat SAD, and my super foreign mom does too. She can tell if I have a fever by kissing my forehead and she's super into herbal voodoo, so her recommendation is ironclad.
Mother Nature may throw us some summer-y curve balls once in a while, but we've still got a long way to go until May. To survive, take advantage of the nice days when you can, but remember to get some Sunny D if you're feeling wonky. Alternatively, I'm really down if anybody wants to run away to Hawaii and never miss a daily dose again.