Toronto
3 min

Remedies for SAD times

Beating the seasonal blues

Why not declare Christmas early and throw up some string lights? Credit: Thinkstock

I hate this time of year. I really, honestly, truly do. Everything is just so sad and dark, and even Barack Obama’s reelection gave me only a three-second pick-me-up. You’d think that an earlier sunset would make a night owl like me positively giddy, but in truth it just makes me grumpy because the grey November clouds cover up any kind of decent view. This year it’s particularly rough: Mercury seems to be majorly in retrograde at the moment, because looking around I see that misery is having its own personal Pride parade. Everyone I know broke up over the past two weeks, got fired, is ill or is dealing with a crisis. I’d offer you a hug, but I’m trying to climb out of my own emotional morass at the moment and need my arms. Still, I worry. So, if you count yourself among the seasonally unhappy hordes, here are some sure-fire ways to pick yourself up.

Let there be light

Since we just lost an hour to daylight savings and it’s within our collective queer DNA to decorate, why not declare Christmas early and throw up some string lights? Some people go in for high-end light therapy installations to put themselves in better moods, but I promise you that a quick trip to Dollarama and $8 or so will make it easier to deal with life for a while. Pick multicolour for added cheer, and on the off chance your sorry ass has someone to cuddle with, it’ll make for a romantic scene. Besides, if you’re type A, you won’t have to worry about stressing out in December getting ready for the holidays; you’ll already be lit up and ready to go!

Go to Montreal

Seriously. Just scram. No one wants you moping around here bringing down the party. The biggest city in La Belle Province has perfected cute winter fashion (so it’s good for shopping), comfort food (poutine at La Banquise is a reliably good time), casual sex (if that’s what you need, you will get no judgment from me, mes amis) and cultural pursuits (world-class museums, galleries, performances — and strippers). Montreal is legendary for restoring mojo, providing escape and being affordable. I’m not one of those who thinks that the best time in Toronto is a weekend in Montreal, but hop on an eastbound Megabus and see what happens. Believe me, your friends will say, “À votre bon coeur” when you come back with a smile on your formerly dour face.

When in doubt, cry it out

Call your friends and gather them in your place. Have one of them bring some chocolate or ice cream and some Kleenex. Turn off all your phones and just let it go. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a for-real thing, but whether your current state is because of SAD or planetary alignment or the inability to escape ghosts of the past, your friends will hold you up and not let you fall. Oh, and let’s not be dainty about it: really cry out that emotion. Give ’em an ugly, snot-nosed, red-eyed, unintelligibly wailing, Oscar-worthy fit. RM Vaughan once told me, “It is our gay birthright to freak out, bitch and moan,” and I agree. You will feel so much better afterward, your friends will feel closer to you, and then, when it’s one of their turns, you can pick the ice cream.

Pop some pills

Don’t worry — I’m not turning my back on a lifetime of sobriety! I’m talking about supplements. A burlesque-dancer friend of mine with exquisite skin sold me on the idea of adding some Vitamin D to my daily regimen last year, and it really worked. In addition to being good for your hair, skin, bones and general anti-aging, it turns out Vitamin D is a mood-booster as well. Plenty of studies out there state that Vitamin D reduces symptoms of depression, so stock up until the sun comes back. It’s not a wonder drug, though, so if your symptoms persist or get too heavy, call a professional, CAMH or The 519.

Move

Get off the couch. Go to a dance class or the gym. Go to the library. Make a long list and take your time doing your groceries. Catch a show. Ride the length of the Queen streetcar (doing this will make you feel better about your own life, guaranteed). Don’t sleep in. Have dinner with friends. Dinner with a stranger. Make a Grindr/Jack’d/Scruff/Growlr/Twinkr date. Do anything at all that takes you out of solitude and forces interaction with others. Misery loves company, even if misery bitches otherwise. You are not alone.

I’m going to try really hard to take my own advice, and I hope you do, too — but try to leave some string lights on the Dollarama shelves for me.