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Snow Got You Down? You Might Have ‘The Flakes’

In this photo, pedestrians walk bundled against the blowing snow during a winter snowstorm, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Boston. A blizzard heaped snow on Boston, the rest of eastern Massachusetts and parts of Long Island on Tuesday, delivering wind gusts topping 75 mph, but it failed to live up to the hype farther south in Philadelphia and New York City. (Steven Senne/AP)
In this photo, pedestrians walk bundled against the blowing snow during a winter snowstorm, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Boston. A blizzard heaped snow on Boston, the rest of eastern Massachusetts and parts of Long Island on Tuesday, delivering wind gusts topping 75 mph, but it failed to live up to the hype farther south in Philadelphia and New York City. (Steven Senne/AP)
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Years ago I knew a woman who spoke about friends who had “The Sugars” — by which she meant diabetes. I loved the expression, and it came back to mind this week, when I diagnosed myself with “The Flakes.” I have The Flakes. And it’s not pretty. But I know I’m not alone. I imagine by now — if you live anywhere in greater Boston — you have them yourself. If it were possible to get anywhere in this city, we could create a 12 step group.

The Boston Globe wrote a bland little article recently about how all the storms were making people anxious and depressed. “Really,” a friend thought when she read it? Just anxious and depressed? We agreed they missed the point. If you’re a regular person, you know that anxious and depressed is an everyday kind of problem. Not a stress-induced major-league snow-filled mind-bind. If you have The Flakes, depression doesn’t capture your condition. Quietly nuts, ice-brained, cork-screw bodied, and pretending to go through the motions ... is closer.

Let me elaborate:

You know you have The Flakes if you’re totally disoriented;

if you feel your every move is being made through thick molasses;

if you find yourself unable to think about anything other than how the hell you’ll get from point A to point B without frostbite, AND not be more than an hour late;

if you want to pull the covers over your head until April;

if your sole goal outside is not to fall;

if you have a crush on your neighbor who owns a snow-blower;

if you have a crush on the body shop guy who’s repairing your black ice fender bender;

if you feel like an over-sized guinea pig in a tiny cage;

If you have The Flakes, depression doesn’t capture your condition. Quietly nuts, ice-brained, cork-screw bodied, and pretending to go through the motions ... is closer.

if you are writing letters to Charlie Baker telling him he’s a world class jerk for cutting funds to the MBTA;

if you can’t stop eating things you never usually eat — like melted peanut butter and cheddar cheese;

if you think hot rum is a basic food group;

if you consider it reasonable behavior to crawl on your belly on your icy roof, tied by a rappel rope, rock-climbing hammer in hand to hack away at snow dams;

if you encourage your kids to spend whole days playing video games;

if you can’t stop sending photos of buried cars to everyone you know NOT in Boston;

if you have decided the white stuff is filthy Styrofoam that will NEVER melt;

if you’re power-watching the same HBO episodes you just finished power watching;

if you don’t care you’ve burned through your tires trying to park in half-shoveled spaces;

if you are online hours each day looking at real estate in Arizona, Florida and California;

if you are getting nothing done;

if you really don’t care that you’re getting nothing done;

if you suddenly feel you need a mint massage and a cucumber facial;

if you think people should appreciate you JUST for getting dressed, and pulling on the three pairs of socks you’ve taken to wearing;

if you’re tempted to tell your 6-month-old to put on his own damn snowsuit;

if you are checking the weather hourly — both here and in Marrakesh;

if each time new flakes start to fall you get overcome by unpleasant flashbacks of your frozen mittens and hands numb-from-shoveling;

if your upper back feels like someone ran you through an old-fashioned washing machine wringer;

if you find it sensible to keep honking most of the time you’re in the car;

if your last comment at the end of dinner and dessert is “what else is there to eat”;

if you cannot remember anything that happened for the past month other than the snowflakes.

And, last but not least, if you feel everyone should understand if you just decide to stop showing up.

The most self-disciplined woman I know described baking brownies during one blizzard, and eating five of them. I was so inspired by her approach that I stopped on the way home that day, bought brownies, ice cream and fudge sauce, and medicated my illness by gorging on a brownie sundae in 2 degree weather. It was a definitive diagnosis of The Flakes; AND it was the first treatment that’s helped. See what you think.

Related:

Janna Malamud Smith Cognoscenti contributor
Janna Malamud Smith is a psychotherapist and writer.

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