Winter Holiday Affective Disorder (WHAD)

xmasmeds

by Patrick Redding & Rob Colfax

Memo to staff psychologists: please insert the following sheet into your copies of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). At this time of year, it is likely that you may see an increase in complaints of depression. Be aware of the diagnostic criteria for the specifier Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) as well as this new category, Winter Holiday Affective Disorder (or WHAD).

Criteria for Winter Holiday Affective Disorder (WHAD):

At least five of the following symptoms have been present over the majority of a two-week period, and represent a change from previous functioning. At least one of the symptoms is either (1) Winter holiday-related complaints or (2) general lack of jolliness.

NOTE: Do not include symptoms that are clearly due to a general medical condition (for example, pregnancy) or delusions or hallucinations (for example, seeing dancing sugarplums during alcohol withdrawal).

1. Winter holiday-related complaints

2. Marked lack of jolliness and good will

3. Loss of interest in nearly all activities (do not include sitting in a stupor in front of the TV during football playoffs)

4. Significant weight gain or increase in appetite (especially cravings for “special” foods such as turkey, fudge, rum balls, etc.)

5. Insomnia (including sleeplessness due to carolers outside who just won’t shut up) or hypersomnia (including overdoses of tryptophan from excessive turkey consumption as well as repeated viewings of “Frosty the Snowman” reruns)

6. Psychomotor agitation (including twitching and “bite reflex” exhibited at the sight or sound of Salvation Army bell-ringers, but not including seizures due to those little chasing lights)

7. Repetitive vocalizations (such as “fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la” or “Ho ho ho!”)

8. Fatigue or loss of energy at the mention of weekend shopping at the mall

9. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt when unable to come up with “the perfect gift”

10. Discoloration of extremities (such as red nose – do not include redness due to excessive alcohol consumption from self-medication)

11. Paranoia, as evidenced by random vocalizations such as “He knows when you’re sleeping! He knows when you’re awake!”

12. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, particularly when changing lanes in downtown traffic

13. Recurrent homicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a homicide attempt (including attacking the mall Santa with a picket from the fence around the “Santaland” display) or a specific plan for committing homicide (do not include shooting at the neighbor’s plastic rooftop reindeer)

14. Bizarre ideations (including, but not limited to, belief in elves, talking reindeer, and peace on earth)
Keep Calm and Hibernate

Statistics indicate that WHAD symptoms may be more apparent in individuals employed in retail occupations, but WHAD has been diagnosed over a widespread range of demographics.

In most cases, WHAD symptoms decrease significantly after 6-8 weeks, though flare-ups may continue until St. Patrick’s Day.

There is currently no treatment for WHAD, although symptoms may be alleviated by mild sedatives, antipsychotics, or a weekend in the Bahamas.

© Copyright 2003 by Patrick Redding & Rob Colfax. Republished 2007, 2011, 2014, 2015.

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This Week at Gatewood: August 9–15, 2015

headergeralt

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in!

Here are our features for the week of August 9–15:

Monday:Some Day I’ll Fly Away,” digital art by Margaret Orr

Tuesday:Looking for Love with a Radio Telescope,” poetry by K.C. Collins

Wednesday:Waves in Flux” black and white photography by Teran

Thursday:Advice to a Daughter Leaving for College,” a humorous essay by Rob Colfax, with header art by Jonny Lindner

Friday:Streaming Consciousness,” photography by P.L. Miller with a quote from psychologist Carl Jung

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Be sure to follow @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as humor, thoughts on books, animal pics and rescues, and all your behind-the-scenes Journal action. It’s like getting all the extras that come with a DVD, only with cat hair.

Did you know you can subscribe to Gatewood Journal and receive a monthly newsletter with all our features for the month? Like a weekly wrap-up, only monthly, so your e-mail box won’t get cluttered. Like a magazine, only digital, because we love trees.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of August 9–15, 2015. Enjoy your weekend, and visit us again soon!


Header art by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay.

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Advice to a Daughter Leaving for College

narrative by jonny lindner

by Rob Colfax

Here, let me get that suitcase for you. You know, your mother and I are going to miss you around here. I think she wishes you’d picked a school closer to home but I know you can’t grow up that way. Nobody can learn to be independent under Mom’s eye all the time, huh?

So I want you to study hard and do well – oh, I know, you will, no question in my mind at all about that. But try to live a little too, eh? I mean, get yourself out a bit. See the sights. Explore the town. Stay out past your bedtime. Date guys your mother wouldn’t approve of.

Not ones I wouldn’t approve of, mind you, but you know what I mean. Not like that boy on the motorcycle you brought home last year. Or that boy with the green spiked hair. Or the one who always wore black and kept getting chased out of the cemetery by the police. Or that boy that got put on probation for selling – what was it? Well, anyway, don’t go out with people like that, of course, but you know. It’s OK if they’re not an honor student or going into pre-med or whatever your mother told you.

Why, if your mother had only gone out with boys her mother liked, she’d never have married me and you wouldn’t be here. So you see, you can’t always listen to mothers. Sometimes you have to listen and then use your own common sense. You’ve got common sense.

What?

Oh, well, of course I listened to my parents. They’re the ones who told me to marry your mom and not that other girl, ha ha. Hmm? Oh, I don’t remember her name. That was a long time ago and we only went out once or twice.

What? Well, no, I wouldn’t marry someone after just being out once or twice but – look, it was nearly eighteen years ago, OK? I really can’t think of her name. What? Your mother said I used to go out with who?

Oh, Hilda Pickett. Maybe. I might have gone out with her once or twice. She’s the one who lives over in the trailer park, isn’t she? Yeah, I think I know who you’re talking about. She’s got a whole pack of kids now. I think she’s on her third husband – no, wait, I guess it’s the second one that she remarried.

What? No, who’s Tiffany Branscomb? Oh, she was in your graduating class? OK. Oh, she’s one of Hilda’s kids? The one her first husband adopted. I see. Well, how about that. Your mom said what? Why, no, I don’t think you look like Tiffany Branscomb at all. Well, I mean, after you mentioned that she was in your class, I remembered seeing her at your graduation. No, you don’t look anything alike. I wonder why your mother would say something like that.

I’ll let you in on something: your mother can be moody sometimes. Have you noticed? She gets in these moods where she says things she doesn’t mean. I think she’s going through The Change. But shh – don’t tell her I said so. Why, she talks completely out of her head sometimes. One Sunday she told Reverend Parrish she thought we needed marriage counseling, can you believe that?

Well, I’m not going to burden you with all that. I just want you to get out in the world and see some things, you know, have a good time while you’re still young. Once you get out of school, you know, it’s all downhill from there. There’s no time to do all the things you wanted to. So you should take the time now, while you’re young and able and not having to worry about what your hormonally unbalanced spouse thinks.

Do at least one fun thing, just for you, every day. Eat ice cream. Roll down a hill of uncut grass. Soak in the tub for an hour and a half. Drink coffee after dinner, even though you know it’ll keep you awake all night. It’s OK, you won’t have to listen to anyone telling you how you knew better than to do that. Go ahead.

Go to the grocery store without a list – and after dark – sometimes. Leave your sweater at home if you don’t feel like wearing it. Draw cartoons in the notebook you’re supposed to be studying for exams. Watch a stupid movie with no plot. Sing under someone’s window.

Just don’t get caught if you try that last one, ha ha. What? Oh, she must have been joking. I’ve never been arrested before in my life. She said what? OK, well, yes, I did speak with a police officer. He was looking for a lost dog in the neighborhood. Asked me if I’d seen it. So I went along to try to help him find it. That’s right. Your mother’s got the story all wrong again. You’d think as many times as she’s told that one, she’d get it right eventually. Anyway, that was a long time ago.

That’s another good piece of advice I should give you: don’t believe everything you hear, ha ha.

Well, it looks like you’re nearly packed up to go, there. Got everything you need? Gee, that car sure is loaded down – did you leave us anything? If we have to share a blanket, we’ll need marriage counseling for sure, ha ha. Got your CDs all packed? All your computer stuff? Books? Clothes? A roadmap to find your way home now and then?

Now here, take this money for gas, and don’t tell your mother I gave it to you. Check the oil once a week, like I showed you. Don’t depend on some quick-lube place to do it; they’ll charge you for it whether you need it or not. And make sure there’s no one around when you do it. Why? Well, because if people see you with the hood up, they think you’re having car trouble and you’ll have some slick-talking fella who thinks he’s a mechanic trying to help you out. Gotta watch out for those types, you know. Can’t trust ’em.

She said what? I did not work in a garage to put myself through school. I don’t know where she gets this stuff. Well, it was a gas station. It did have a garage, but I didn’t do any of that, I just pumped gas for people. They did that back then, you know, gas stations weren’t always self-service. We even washed the windshield. That was how I got to talk to your mother the first time. I cleaned the windshield for her, and she went and complained to the manager that I was looking down her blouse. Might have been the only story she ever told right, ha ha. But enough about that – you be careful, now, and call us often. And hey – don’t forget to have some fun.

 

© Copyright 2003 by Rob Colfax. Republished 2007, 2013, 2015.


Artwork: “Narrative” by Jonny Lindner via Pixabay. Licensed CC0 1.0 Universal.

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This Week at Gatewood: June 28 – July 4, 2015

staff meeting

Artwork via Pixabay.

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in!

We’ve continued to make improvements on the site this week by adding a Writers Index. This gathers all the work by writer rather than by subject, so if you enjoy the work of a particular writer and want to read more, everything they’ve written is listed in one spot, regardless of topic. The page lists writers in alphabetical order by surname; writers who have more work on the site have their own pages, and you can use the drop-down menu of the Index for that.

The Gallery revision is now complete as well. We’ve added a section on the drop-down menu for P.L. Miller, and I’m told that the photos in that section here are a completely different set from what’s posted on the P.L. Miller Photoblog.

Here are our features for the week of June 28 – July 4:

Monday:The Architecture of Cleveland,” photography by Teran

Tuesday:3:33,” poetry by Hunter MacKenzie

Wednesday:Today I Have Hope” commentary from Rob Colfax

Friday:Wings for the New Highway,” photography by P.L. Miller with a quote from Richard Bach

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Here’s a bit of humor from our Special Assistant Dr Nicholas:

plans for 4th

Be sure to follow @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as writing humor, animal fun & rescues, and other tidbits of interest.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of June 28 – July 4, 2015. Enjoy your weekend, and visit us again soon!

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Today I Have Hope

hope and change

by Rob Colfax

I was not born in these United States. I’ve lived most of my life here, but I was born in the United Kingdom.

When I came here as a very young child, the U.K. wasn’t feeling very united, and my family apparently thought that the U.S. would be a safer place to bring up a child. That just goes to show you how little we know about what goes on outside the little circles in which we move from day to day. It’s not very united here either. Never has been, really.

I never thought too much about that. As I grew up here, in school we were taught all about how the U.S. became the great “melting pot” (they hadn’t yet got onto the more politically correct but less accurate “tapestry” metaphor). But from day to day, what I saw was that the neighbors thought my father was a snob because he never lost his accent; one particularly unpleasant man was fond of torturing him by sneering, “Can’t understand ya – slow down and speak English, buddy!”

My mother had to fight the cable company for years to get them to carry a local PBS affiliate who featured an hour of Britcoms scheduled late on Saturday nights; otherwise, we were stuck with The Benny Hill Show for her weekly fix, which she did not appreciate nearly as much as I did. (I was twelve at the time and could appreciate chasing half-naked ladies running around the lawn far more than the nuances of Are You Being Served?. Naked ladies cut across every culture, I think, if you’re twelve.)

As an adult, I became more aware of what went on in the world, as well as details of U.S. history that often get omitted in high school classes (whether accidentally or deliberately or simply because you had too many snow days that year to cover everything). I learned about the Dred Scott case and the Scopes trial for the first time in an obscure Monday night law class for journalism majors. My early teachers had been far more interested in passing down the myths of Daniel Boone killing a “bar” (bear) and George Washington never telling a lie (an unlikely story about a politician if I’ve ever heard one).

Journalism showed me much about how things work in this country. The practice of asking questions, digging around, thinking about what you’ve found, then writing about it, can be a very rewarding process. I’d recommend it to anyone, though not necessarily as a way to make a good wage.

Having married a woman whose work often takes her to Washington, D.C., I gradually became more politically savvy, though I often still feel like an outsider. Even having grown up here, the ideas that seem so common among today’s conservatives seem very foreign to me; I cannot fathom the logic of teaching religion in science classes, or giving more money to the rich when the poor are getting poorer, or meddling in other people’s sex lives. I will probably never understand why some people get their knickers in a knot about someone they’ve never met being able to get health care for the first time in years. I don’t understand a state capitol building flying the flag of a country that hasn’t existed in over a hundred years.

What I do understand, and what has finally let me feel like maybe I actually belong here after all, are the decisions last week by the Supreme Court regarding “Obamacare” and same-sex marriage. This makes sense to me.

It’s good to see common sense and kindness prevail once in awhile.

It doesn’t exactly make me “proud to be an American” – we still need to solve intolerance and brutality and poverty and ignorance and a host of other ills – but it does make me optimistic that the better nature of our people might win out after all.

Tomorrow, next week, next year, I’ll get that nagging feeling again that tells me we’ll never make it work – that people are too selfish, too mean, too invested in their own willful stupidity to change anything for the better.

But today… today, I have hope.

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This Week at Gatewood: May 10-16, 2015

reading dog

Photo via MorgueFile.

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello all! I hope you’ve had a good week. It’s been a good week here for discovering writers; I had the honor of reading a packet of poetry sent to us by Robin Sinclair (one of which we featured Tuesday), and I can’t think when I’ve been so immediately taken with someone’s work. You’ll be seeing more very soon. In the meantime, check out her website to see more.

We also rediscovered a folder of work that was left with us as part of an estate clearance. Occasionally we get boxes of papers from families who’ve lost a relative; if it’s a well-known writer, they generally get donated to libraries. If it’s a lesser-known talent, it’s sometimes sent to us so that their work isn’t just lost forever. We catalog and archive it, and sometimes we find a gem or two to show you here.

Here are our features for the week of May 10-16:

Monday:Wrought Iron Stars #3,” photography by K.C. Collins

Tuesday:Where It Started,” poetry by Robin Sinclair

Wednesday:Reader Madness: An Intervention,” by Rob Colfax

Friday:Toward Growth,” photography by P.L. Miller and quote from Abraham Maslow

Remember, our Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Here’s a favorite posted by our Special Assistant Dr Nicholas this week:

littleleaguesm

Follow @docnicholas on Twitter for more of this sort of thing, and, of course, daily updates on Journal posts.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for May 10-16. Enjoy the weekend, and visit us again soon, won’t you?

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Reader Madness: An Intervention

library

Artwork via Pixabay.

by Rob Colfax

My daughter has been home from college on spring break this week, and a couple of days ago, it became glaringly obvious that we needed to have a talk. The warning signs were clear: her bloodshot eyes with the dark circles underneath… her lengthy occupations of the bathroom… her dazed expression of someone not quite in touch with her surroundings… not to mention the Aldous Huxley postcard pasted to the front of her notebook.

She was keeping odd hours, even more so than usual, sleeping little and eating less. The guy who came to pick her up Friday night (supposedly to go see a movie) was one I didn’t know. He drove a modest gray compact car entirely devoid of layers of Godsmack or Incubus bumper stickers, and there were no danglies hanging from the rear-view mirror. He was clean-cut, conspicuously articulate, and brought her back home at a reasonable hour. Something didn’t add up, and I decided I’d better find out what it was.

I tapped on her door and immediately heard the rustlings of something being hastily hidden, so I barged in. She slouched awkwardly on her rumpled bed. “What?” she bleated nervously.

“You’re home early,” I remarked. “How was the movie? What’d you see?”

“Er… ah…” Her paranoid eyes darted around evasively, and I could tell she was trying to decide how to lie her way out of it.

“OK, let’s just get to it,” I sighed reluctantly. “You didn’t go to the movies, did you?”

She hemmed and hawed and gnawed at her fingernails, and I caught sight of something sticking out of her shirt pocket. “Hey! That’s my bookstore discount card!” I blustered, snatching it. Then I realized. “No! Surely not!” I gasped.

“Yes!” she wailed, tearing at her hair. “I lied. We didn’t go to a movie – it was a reading group.”

“A what?!”

“I… I’ve become a… a book reader!” she sobbed. “I’ve tried to hide it, but I’m afraid it’s out of control, Dad.”

“Oh my. When you borrowed the car to go to the mall yesterday, your mother said she saw the car on the other side of town, but I didn’t believe it.”

“It’s true,” she sniffled. “I didn’t go to the mall. I… I went to the library book sale.”

“Well, admitting you have a problem is the first step,” I comforted her, sitting down beside her to reassure her. There was something lumpy under the quilt, and I pulled it back to see what I was sitting on. She started to protest, then scooted aside in resignation as I yanked the quilt away to reveal her stash: fat, worn paperbacks of Kerouac, Nabokov, Burroughs, Vonnegut – and that was just for starters. “Good grief, kid, how much are you reading? A book a day?”

“Er – well, sometimes I go through two or three in one sitting,” she confessed.

“What?! Are you cutting class to stay in your room and read?” I demanded.

“Sometimes,” she admitted. “I read more when I’m under stress.”

“How are you paying for all these books?” I wondered.

“Well… sometimes I have to go to the used book store,” she said quietly. “Sometimes I… I trade CDs for books. If I get really desperate, I… go to the library.” She fondled the cover of Tropic of Cancer as she slumped back on the pillows. “I know I’ve got to do something about it. Lately I’ve noticed that as soon as I finish one book, I feel the urge to start reading another right away. I’m lost until I’ve got a new one to read.” She curled into a fetal position, resting her head on Bulfinch’s Mythology. “The week before spring break, I finished my last book after the bookstores and library had already closed one night. It got really bad… I couldn’t sleep. I… I went to the all-night grocery store and read two motorcycle magazines and a copy of Country Decorator Digest before the night manager caught on. I ended up buying some cheap mystery novel about a lawyer’s cat that ate library paste, just so I could read myself to sleep.” She sighed heavily. “When I woke up the next morning and realized what I’d done, I was so ashamed. I felt terrible.”

“Pulp hangover,” I nodded sagely.

“I’m so embarrassed,” she bawled.

“Well, this is just way out of hand,” I said. “Tomorrow we’re going to take a little drive. There’s a treatment center near here that specializes in this sort of thing.”

“You don’t mean – ”

“Yes. We’ve got to get you into a magazine clinic.”

“No!” she balked. “I – I can quit any time I want!”

“Oh, no, no, no – this is only the beginning,” I warned. “It starts off with just a harmless little bit of light reading like Harry Potter, and the next thing you know, you’re on to the hard stuff. James Joyce. Ezra Pound. Dostoevsky, for heaven’s sake!”

“No! You can’t scare me with that kind of talk,” she retorted belligerently. “Thomas Jefferson was widely rumored to be a reader, you know,” she challenged.

“Maybe he was and maybe he wasn’t, but do you think he’d get elected today if it became common knowledge that he was literate?” I pointed out.

“But I learn so much from reading!” she protested. “Why, did you know that the movies left out huge sections of Lord of the Rings?”

“Sweet mother of Gandalf, child, did you want those movies to be longer than they already were?” I exclaimed.

“Well, I just think you’re making a big deal out of this. I know people who read lots more than I do,” she scoffed. “How bad can it be?”

I waved her copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas under her nose. “You start out with this ‘recreational reading’ stuff and the next thing you know, it leads to writing!”

She paled. “You’re right. This could get worse. I can see that now.”

“Good. Now, tomorrow we’ll get you into that clinic. They’ll start weaning you off with magazines, and in a mere few weeks, you’ll barely feel the urge to pick up a newspaper,” I promised.

She clutched her Faulkner a bit closer and looked up at me hopefully. “But in the meantime, I could use a little something to get me through the night,” she suggested.

I considered, then beckoned her to follow me. “I’ve got a hardcover copy of Thoreau upstairs,” I whispered. “I’ll let you borrow it for the night, but don’t tell your mother.”

She followed me up to my study and eyed me knowingly as I fetched the book for her from a locked cabinet. “My, you’ve got quite the stash yourself,” she observed slyly. “I seem to remember you disappearing for a few weeks last year; Mom made some excuse about a seminar you had to attend. So do these magazine clinics really work?”

“Of course,” I insisted. “I can quit reading any time I want to. I just don’t want to yet.”

 

© Copyright 2004 by Rob Colfax. Republished 2007, 2013, 2015.

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