If you experience extreme bouts of depression in the winter months, where you stare out the window at the incessant rain, and then begin considering the possibility of killing one of your coworkers every 30 minutes if they don't shut their big stupid mouths... AND REALLY SOON—you may have SAD. Thankfully, there are a number of cures that can help, and the Mercury is here to try them all out first, and share the results with you... even though it's really difficult, and nobody really gives a shit if we put out this stupid newspaper or not. God... I hate everything. Sometimes I just want to take a safety pin and carve "I DON'T FUCKING CARE" into my thigh. And I would, too—if I weren't so sleepy. Fuck it. I'm taking another nap.
LEVEL OF SAD PRE-REMEDY: 3
ATTEMPTED REMEDY: "Reboot" sleep pattern
HYPOTHESIS: The deal with this one is you wake up at your normal time, stay awake through an entire 24-hour cycle, then go to bed at your normal time the next day. It's supposed to "reboot" your sleep pattern and balance your mood.
OBSERVATION: All told, I stayed up 42 hours, 20 of which I was totally disconnected with reality. Timeline: Woke up Friday morning at eight. Stayed up all night in the front-room listening to records, getting slowly weirder until I drew an entire comic book (I don't even draw!), debated painting my face like a "Pygmy," and came up with some interesting theories on horseracing, watercolors, and the national production of dog food. Saturday I had band practice, which I mumbled through like a drunken Apache. Went to see the Jigsaw Gentlemen at Berbati's. Danced like crazy through Rag and Bone Men's set. Got tunnel vision. Lost consciousness for a second, and had to sit down. Drove my friends home talking in "a dinosaur voice." Went to bed at 2 am and woke up Sunday morning grumpy, edgy, and mad at the world.
ANALYSIS: Total hippie nonsense.
LEVEL OF SAD POST-REMEDY: 10,000 million billion!
LEVEL OF SAD PRE-REMEDY: 3
ATTEMPTED REMEDY: Self-medication
HYPOTHESIS: A constant stream of alcohol and tobacco will either alleviate SAD, or mask its symptoms with a perpetual buzz.
OBSERVATION: Amy Jenniges began this experiment by procuring a 750 ml bottle of 100-proof vodka. She promptly set this bottle aside, and instead hit the bar, consuming beer, cheap well drinks, and cigarettes until her self-confidence and vocal volume doubled. Experiment continued in this fashion for three days. On Day Four, subject opened vodka, and sipped a shot at her desk, neat and at room temperature. On Day Five, subject mixed vodka with orange juice at 9:30 am, slipped a drink to cubicle mate Scott Moore, and both maintained a buzz while writing copy. At 4:30 pm, subject joined two co-workers for a mid-afternoon bar run, then returned to work to mix 300 ml of vodka with sugar, Lemon Lime Kool-Aid, and water. Subject consumed several glasses of this vile drink, pushed this concoction on her colleagues, berated them with boring personal anecdotes, and loudly galloped around the office, before going home in shame.
ANALYSIS: Alcohol is a depressant; coupled with continued self-consciousness of drunken behavior at work, SAD is increased.
LEVEL OF SAD POST-REMEDY: 7 (hung over and depressed)
LEVEL OF SAD PRE-REMEDY: 9¾ (close to death)
ATTEMPTED REMEDY: One can of Libby's™ Vienna Sausages
HYPOTHESIS: Vienna sausages are "fancy," because they come from Vienna. Therefore, by eating Vienna sausages, the subject should also feel "fancy."
OBSERVATION: Marshall is a 15-month-old puggle (pug/beagle breed) who has suffered from acute mental depression since the age of eight weeks. His current symptoms are as follows: listlessness, low energy, general malaise, excessive sleeping, indifference to dogs of the opposite sex, and unexplained pooping in the Mercury's lobby. On the day of experiment, subject could not be roused from the lobby couch, even when we hid behind the reception desk and meowed like a cat. However, subject's interest level spiked when we opened a can of Libby's™ Vienna Sausages. Libby's sausages are reportedly "ready-to-eat, plump, delicately seasoned sausages" which can either be "eaten right out of the container" or "sliced and added to casseroles or soups."
ANALYSIS: After eating 10 of the sausages straight from the can, Marshall showed an overall improvement of mood; rolling around on his back, sprinting in circles, and panting to the point of hyperventilation. There was also some strutting, which leads us to believe Libby's "fancy" sausages increased subject's low self-esteem. This could also be attributed to the poop Marshall was about to take in the lobby.
LEVEL OF SAD POST-REMEDY: 1 (practically ecstatic)
Warning: Vienna sausages have never been tested on a human being. Results may vary.
LEVEL OF SAD PRE-REMEDY: 7 (I need a fistful of pills to get out of bed.)
ATTEMPTED REMEDY: Exercise, loosely based on the Presidential Fitness Test Model—jogging, sit-ups, push-ups
HYPOTHESIS: Knowing what I know about biology—like, a lot—the increased physical activity should nudge my endorphins, temporarily making me feel happier and more fulfilled.
OBSERVATION: I started with three sets of 30 sit-ups—despite my increasingly doughy and beer-battered middle, the first two went smoothly. The third was a chore, but as my heart rate picked up and sweat started forming in weird places, I could feel SAD's grip around my little black heart loosen slightly. Unfortunately, the push-ups set my efforts back considerably, due to the spirit-crushing revelation that I have no upper body strength. Still, I mustered the wherewithal for a 30-minute jog, which sent SAD packing. Though wheezing, lightheaded, and sopping with sweat, I felt better than I had in months, since before this infernal winter started.
ANALYSIS: As a mild, sweet soreness took over my muscles, endorphins pushed all remnants of SAD out for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, SAD redoubled its efforts overnight, and by morning the depression elephant retied itself around my neck, ending my all-too-brief respite.
LEVEL OF SAD POST-REMEDY: 8
(Where my pills at?)
LEVEL OF SAD PRE-REMEDY: 7.2
ATTEMPTED REMEDY: Getting chased by a wild animal/raising adrenaline levels
HYPOTHESIS: Abject terror will make subject's SAD seem HAPPY in comparison.
OBSERVATION: Subject began by prodding office puggle "Marshall" with stir sticks from the coffee cabinet, hoping to enrage him into giving chase. But "Marshall" had previously been fed too many Vienna sausages, and only rolled onto his back. Subject proceeded to Plan B: tying the remaining sausages into a makeshift "tail," and running through residential streets hooting like an injured monkey. One heavyset rottweiler gave chase, trying to eat the "tail." Subject slapped the rottweiler in the face with his "tail" and taunted it. The rottweiler licked subject's hand and panted. Subject proceeded to the Oregon Zoo, where he shouted insults at the caged monkeys, hoping they would rush the bars. The monkeys picked insects off each other. A zoo employee asked subject to leave. Subject left, overheard saying, "I'll raise HIS adrenaline levels." Subject purchased a snow cone on his way out.
ANALYSIS: The snow cone was devoured rapidly. Subject seemed more depressed upon finishing it, complaining his forehead hurt.
LEVEL OF SAD POST-REMEDY: 7.9
LEVEL OF SAD PRE-REMEDY: 3
ATTEMPTED REMEDY: Artificial light therapy
HYPOTHESIS: Experts say that change in sunlight exposure is the key to SAD. Since a lack of sunlight confuses our natural daily rhythms, our serotonin and melatonin levels drop, resulting in SADness. The mind and body, however, can be "tricked" with intense, repeated exposure to bright artificial lights. My expectation? Come on. What do you think?
OBSERVATION: Since the Mercury declined to buy me a Sunsation, SAD-e-lite, or stylish Deluxe Light Visor, I was left to discover my own sources of intense, artificial illumination. One night, I locked myself in the bathroom of my neighborhood Walgreens and perched on the sink, staring into the flickering fluorescent bulbs for 38 minutes, until waves of nausea forced me to halt the experiment. Undaunted, I traveled to Interstate Avenue and basked under the phosphorescent glow of the Western Inn sign, until approached by a man named J-Dawg. J-Dawg told me that he had the right medicine for my SADness, and for $20, I was cured of my winter depression for 30 manic minutes. Afterward, my SAD returned with such intensity that I didn't leave my bedroom for nearly 48 hours.
ANALYSIS: Light therapy proved ineffective in relieving my melancholy, but it did introduce me to a new, shamanic friend who helped direct me to the "light within."
LEVEL OF SAD POST-REMEDY: Currently fluctuates between -6 and 32, depending on how long it's been since my last visit to the beautiful candy-colored glow of the Western Inn.