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October 24, 2011 / Melissa Leeanne


Having lived in Alaska for nearly five years, I have noticed a pattern. Each spring, I feel a surprising sense of relief when the days start to get longer and there is more light in my life. Maybe it’s not quite science or medicine, but this tells me that I may be dealing with a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Some people suggest taking vitamin D capsules, but I can’t take pills on time or regularly to save my life. Another option, some people have said a few minutes in the tanning bed cures their blues, but my delicate and pale as a halibut belly complexion and tanning beds don’t really go well together. What is left, then, is the “SAD light.”

Hopefully the “SAD light” is effective, either as it claims or as a placebo. I went to Costco over the weekend and bought one that looks like a weird modern lamp.

Everyone at Costco seemed really concerned with my mental and emotional health – nobody can stand to see a cute girl sad, it seems. I had seen the light on display the week before and had been thinking about it since. When I got back to Costco, there was a different and $100 more expensive and less attractive “SAD Light” in its place. I asked someone who worked there, pointing, “There was another light there before, do you still have it?” He looked at me knowingly, “Ah, you mean the happy light?” and directed me to the pharmaceutical section. I put the light in my cart and was already getting happy thinking about increasing my (pretend) natural sunlight intake. When I got to the check-out line, the woman scanned it and also commented on the light. “Gonna get happy, huh?” I joked that I was going to put it in my office. A joke not because of its location -it is at my desk at work – but because I actually like my job and feel happier since working there. Upon departure, because it was Costco, I handed my receipt to the man at the exit for him to check off.

“Are you sad?” he asked, “Are you unhappy?”

I explained to him, as I explained above, that the sense of relief I feel in the spring is likely indicative of Seasonal Affective Disorder and I thought the light might lessen the effects of the short days and endless gray skies. His response was along the lines of, ‘this place is depressing and there’s nothing to do and you’re crazy to live here by choice, especially being young (and cute)’ and I had the longest chat anyone has probably ever had with the door guy at a Costco, explaining why I do like Juneau and how there is plenty to do and how I don’t mind the rain and cold, at least in theory. Even though I was buying a lamp to make up for the sunlight I don’t receive.

According to the website for the lamp company, 80 percent of people benefit from the lights and most notice results in two to four days. Here’s hoping.

Out of curiosity, if I am unhappy with the light, do you think the people at Costco would take it back out of pity for the sad, cute girl?


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