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Pill-free cure for depression

February 4, 2012

You’ve all heard about SAD — seasonal affective disorder — that general feeling of malaise we often get in mid-winter when dreary, rainy days are accompanied by the arrival of Christmas bills. 
This week I had it bad. Listless and bored, I looked out my window and spotted a pumpkin still sitting in the front lawn, along with a fake Christmas tree I had overlooked. I just couldn’t  muster up the energy to go out and remove them. At least they added some punch to the brown deadness of the winter blahs.
So, I did what I always do when I’m depressed, I go roam around the grocery store looking for inspiration for something exciting to cook. On New Year’s, I had purged the fridge of anything tasty and restocked with spinach, mushrooms and celery. Now I wish they would just die so I could throw them out and go back to my bacon and cheese grilled sandwiches.
I threw my raincoat over my pajamas and dashed over to the Piggly Wiggly to browse around before the regular customers began showing up. Comfort food was on my mind and there was no turning back. New Year’s resolutions, vamoose.
I bought the ingredients for my three-cheese macaroni and cheese and smiled for the first time in three days.
Feeling better, I headed for the check-out, and spotted a woman with three months worth of groceries heading the same way. We pretended we didn’t see each other, but I know she saw me with my pitifully few items. Maybe she had to get to work, or maybe SAD had just made her mean, I don’t know. But she won by the length of a full cart wheel. 
I tapped my foot and waited impatiently while she took her time loading up the conveyer belt.  With nothing else to do, I picked up a tabloid with a headline which read: “Man’s 174 mph Sneeze Blows Wife’s Hair Off Her Head.”
Wanting to wallow some more in my funk, I tried to suppress a laugh, but it bubbled up involuntarily. Miss Mean peered around, interested in what was so funny. I showed it to her and she began laughing too. 
On the next page was another giggler, “Girl Scalped by Berserk Tortilla Maker.” I began helping Miss Mean unload her cart while we laughed together. It was one of those times something mildly funny is magnified 100 times and you just can’t contain yourself. (It usually happens in church.)
Other customers began coming over to see what was so funny. We could have recorded a laugh track right then and there. My new best friend had finally finished checking out and it was my turn.
I mumbled something about forgetting an item and walked over to the longest line so I could read some more. There I learned that  “St. Valentine and Cupid were Secret Lovers” and “My Doctor Could Be An Alien.” In Minnesota, “A Dog Gave Birth to Kittens,” and most shocking of all, I discovered that “Abraham Lincoln was a Woman.”
I’ll never line up in the short line again.
On my way to the car, I felt like clicking my heels together or dancing a jig, but chances are I would fall down, and someone would discover I was wearing my pajamas.
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at

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