I am not a medical doctor, but I do have certain research skills that have been honed from decades of writing. So I believe I am qualified to say, “The East End is a cluster region for seasonal affective disorder.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a “cluster” is where a greater than expected number of same-type diseases occur within a group of people in a defined area.
And that is what has led me to my hypothesis. There is no other plausible explanation as to why the local population of our cities, towns and hamlets are so lethargic this time of year.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is defined as a syndrome of depression occurring simultaneously with the reduction of exposure to sunlight, typically during the fall and winter months.
I estimate that the Hamptons gross energy output (HGEO) is reduced by more than 65 percent in the months from November through April.
If you doubt me, then ask yourself a simple question, “What are area residents doing with all the extra time they have this time of year?”
Travel time is reduced significantly now versus the months that we are inundated with visitors. According to distance-cities.com, the estimated travel time between Hampton Bays and Sag Harbor, which covers approximately 20 miles, is currently 34 minutes. We all know that from July 4–Labor Day, this same trip would take more than an hour.
How about a visit to the grocery store? The time it takes to secure our provisions in January, compared to July, is the difference between riding a donkey and a thoroughbred.
Further, in the late fall and winter, there is no grass to cut, no garden to be attended and the number of events and functions are reduced as well. I could go on and on but you get the point.
Given all this extra time, productivity should actually go up this time of year.
In search of the answers, I interviewed several area residents to see if they felt they were less productive this time of year.
Rebecca, who has lived in Southampton all her life barked, “It takes a full 7 months to recover from the stress of the 5 months of visitors—so lay off, Mr. Sneiv.”
Fourth generation East Hampton resident Carol projected, “It’s always been this way—it goes back to the time when potatoes were farmed and fish were being caught—once it got too cold everything slowed down. It’s not my fault, it’s in my family DNA.”
Harry from Montauk seemed agitated when he argued, “Don’t tell me I have a disease. I stay busy all fall and winter watching football, basketball and hockey.”
Maria of Sag Harbor gasped, “Your question is an insult because as a mother of five children, the last time I had even an extra five minutes, at any time of the year, was 1998.”
Despite these varied explanations and denials, I am not swayed. I estimate that at this time of year, each of us should have more than 3 hours of extra time per day. If we could harness this energy and put it to good use, there is no telling what we could accomplish as a community.
Yes, my depressed and lethargic friends, we need to do something to reverse this cluster phenomenon. A dialogue needs to be started, clinics should be opened and counseling sessions held.
Quite frankly…I am exhausted from trying to make everyone else more productive citizens. I am so disgusted with the complacency of our people this time of year that it just makes me want to lay down and take a long nap.