A little light therapy

21st January 2005 at 00:00
Got the winter blues? Well, maybe you're one of the half a million sufferers of seasonal affective disorder, or Sad. It makes you anxious, gloomy and unsociable. Being a teacher is just peachy if you get Sad. And guess what? Children hardly ever do! Humph. Yes, these websites I've been looking at to avoid my colleagues are full of cheery stuff. One notes:

"January and February can be especially bleak." We're doomed!

No, wait. "Light boxes can help." That's good. But hang on, what did people do before electricity? Did everyone get Sad, or did they all just sit really close to the fire? And why don't kids get it much? Aha, here's a clue. Apparently, Sad symptoms can "disappear suddenly with a short period of hypomania, ie overactivity". Sound familiar? You're writing on the board and THWUMP! Gales of bouncy laughter. Wheeling round, you glimpse a child's feet and flailing arms. Come on. Do you know any adults who'd get such a buzz out of pushing someone off their chair? We're all missing something.

These kids are not being disruptive. They're self-medicating, OK?

Children can get Sad, though. Symptoms include "accusations" and "blaming external factors". Right. Next time they power-whine at you, shine the light box at them. If they don't stop, persevere "for up to four hours".

Heh, heh. Now, if that didn't cheer you up, try wearing a light visor, which is every bit as spooky as it sounds. Or you can start your day with a light alarm that comes on gradually, like a sunrise. It also has an optional back-up beeper "for reassurance".

So, reassured by your beeping sunrise, take time during lessons to try some "exercise near an open window" and "light exposure to the back of the knee". Personally, I'd prefer a nice dose of hypomania, myself. Yes, this is much better. Sit under a bright light, push a colleague off a chair and type Sad into a search engine. In seconds you are wrapped in vague and cuddly promises. One friendly, resigned little shrug of a website reassures me that "it certainly cannot hurt; so it is worth trying to see whether it helps you". The same could be said of going to the cinema with a duck, or saying the word "fluffy". And I love the gentle if slightly bizarre honesty of this one: "If you are allergic to dogs, light therapy is not going to help." Ah, bless.

In the end, though, if kids don't get Sad, they should help those who do.

Make one of them carry your light box. "For up to four hours", of course.

Yeah, maybe life's not so bad.

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