With Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in full bloom, it’s not uncommon for my attitude to take a nosedive. And no matter what it is, I tend to approach any opportunity for fun like someone stranded on a desert who suddenly hears the music of an ice cream truck. Actually, because it’s February I’m freezing my posterior off and feel desperate for warmth. But you get my drift. The point is although I need sun and fun now, I have to wait at least until May.
According to Psychology Today, I am not alone with this problem. “Seasonal affective disorder is estimated to affect 10 million Americans,” says the description on the website. Another 10 percent to 20 percent may have mild SAD, which is apparently more common in women than in men. It also says many who suffer from SAD have at least one close relative with a psychiatric disorder, most frequently a severe depressive disorder (55 percent) or alcohol abuse (34 percent). Also, SAD is supposedly more common the farther north you live.
Experiencing a certain amount of stress and anxiety, I have sought counseling to learn how to deal with SAD. It seems that distraction is the answer. Many people I know either embrace the bitter temperatures and go skiing in the Alps, or even Vermont, or run from the packed powder hills and make the great escape to exotic places like Turks and Caicos. I do the best I can with local distractions. For instance, I attempt to lose myself in either a nutritious 14-oz. fresh juice or a hot cup of java at Cups and Cakes, a pastry shop I refer to as Cups and Caicos to trick myself into thinking I’m someplace exotic. Sometimes it even works.
I recently met Denise Kelleher, owner of Cups and Caicos, at the local library, where she was judging the Irish Soda Bread contest, the kick-off event to the huge St. Paddy’s Day Parade in town. I couldn’t help but want to know what the fuss was all about. Suddenly, I was happily tasting the different varieties of the breads myself; still cold, but feeling positive. It occurred to me how easily entertained (distracted) I am as long as I feel connected rather than isolated, which is the main element of SAD that disturbs me.
In that moment I became interested in the history of Irish Soda Bread, if only momentarily. The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread says the Irish chose to make this type of bread as a reaction to poverty; it was the easiest and least expensive bread to serve. However, in the oldest reference to a Soda Bread recipe, it was also touted to be healthy. In the November 1836 Farmer’s Magazine (London) VOL 5 p. 328 referencing an Irish newspaper in County Down, the story states, “There is no bread to be had equal to it for invigorating the body, promoting digestion, strengthening the stomach, and improving the state of the bowels.”
Considering the ingredients---flour, sugar, baking soda, caraway seeds (optional) and raisins, it must be the buttermilk that gives it a nutritional edge. But healthy or just plain caloric, one can’t deny the yum-factor. Kelleher got her start making and selling her mother’s Irish Soda Bread recipe to the local market, and eventually took over the space when it became available and renamed it Cups and Cakes.
Long after I was full of Irish Soda Bread that night, more unexpected SAD therapy took place. The bag pipers filled the room with the perfect sonic backdrop---the music of green fields and rainbows---better than an ice cream truck in the desert!