Book review: Winter Blues by Norman E. Rosenthal, MD

The review of this book may seem, to some, untimely, as we’re now (at least here in North Dakota) fairly rapidly coming out of winter, and on our way to spring. However, one can never predict when one will find a good and helpful book, and I submit this now as a way to ‘plan ahead’ and, if you or someone you know/love struggles with seasonal depression, this book can greatly help to alleviate the suffering that goes along with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or its milder cousin, ‘winter blues’.

I learned much about the history of this disorder, which is now recognized by the diagnostic tools of the mental health profession. Once not understood, mis-understood, or ignored, seasonal depression is now more widely recognized and those who are affected by it have a real chance to regaining half their life.

Half their life? Yes, indeed. As the book describes, and its suffers attest, it feels like they are lost, or absent, for about half their life. The winter half.

The book presents the history of research and discovery, the treatment options available, and some self-assessments as to the severity of seasonal depression a person is experiencing. I especially appreciated the chapter outlining how to assess the seasonal ‘swing’ of children and adolescents: is it normal, is it the ‘winter blues, or is it SAD?

The book is readable in style, without being overly academic or tough. It really gave me a lot of hope to read it, both for myself (more on the ‘winter blues’) side, and several loved ones that I know suffer from the more serious form, SAD. Rosenthal’s book simultaneously helps those who suffer from seasonal depression not to blame themselves, as they cannot control how many hours the sun shines in their neck of the woods, while empowering them to know that there are reasonable and reliable steps that they CAN take to alleviate or even totally remit their suffering.

Well-done, and highly recommended.


Found: a pretty decent natural ant repellent

A Spring haiku

Black bulbous bodies

Shimmering in the moonlight

Ants in the kitchen

Sorry to scare you with that picture. Uh, happy Easter? No, but seriously, I had a great break – from homeschool, from blogging, from being well — ok, I wasn’t sick the whole time, but after a fabulous, wonderful Easter trip, I’ve been sick for almost a solid week.

But one thing that doesn’t make me sick – I have, so far, been employing a natural and non-toxic method to say good-bye to the diminutive critters that seem to creep into my house every spring without fail. We had hoped adding insulation into the walls of our this-year-turning-95-yr-old house would maybe upset the ancestral nest and encourage them to relocate their HQ to a more natural environment, say, outdoors perhaps? – but no. We lost the teeny tiny red ones, and kept the rather bulbous black ones.

When we first moved in, almost 10 years ago, it was much worse. One day, as we shopped for groceries, fate intertwined with impulse purchasing, and we picked up one of those tiny pulp ‘magazines’ by the checkout stand, this one entitled, “Natural Home Cleaning”. As funny as it sounds, that tiny .99 cent pamphlet really set our home in the direction of going in a more natural, chemical-free direction.

One of the subtopics was ‘pest elimination’. Here’s what we used successfully that year, and have again begun using this year:

Put a drop or two of peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball, and place around the areas you are seeing ants. Ants, for some reason, don’t like this smell (and several others that you could read about here, and with a slightly different method as well). They smell it, and run away! We’ve seen this with our own eyes! Refresh the cotton balls once or twice weekly, or as often as it takes to keep them on the run, and away from your foodstuffs (once a week seems to coincide both with what we need, and how often I remember to do this). Now, a note of caution – undiluted essential oils are powerful, so either wear gloves, or be really careful.

Are they 100% gone? Nah. We still see maybe 2 – 4 a day. These must be ants that have colds is all we can figure. But, you can’t beat the fresh smell of peppermint! And, you also can’t beat an easy solution that won’t harm you, your kids, or your pets! Give it a try! I can live with 4 ants a day, and can also believe that the Doublemint Twins are in my kitchen – I wish they’d load up the dishwasher while they’re in there.

Scents not quite working? Here are a few other ideas: See if you can figure out where the ants are coming in. Block up any openings with caulk or another ant-deflecting paste. Keep counters very clean, keep dishwashers free of crumbs (yeah, good luck with that!,…), empty garbage very often, maybe even twice a day if they’re really bad.

Do you have any cool tips to get pests out of your home?