Just the medicine for the winter doldrums


Do you suffer from the winter doldrums? Did you know you can’t suffer from just one doldrum? Did you realize that the doldrums also refers to a kind of weather that has baffling winds? Has your hair ever been baffled after you were out in the wind? Are you sometimes baffled about why you read this blog?


If you answered yes to any of those questions, particularly the last one, then, indeed, you are suffering. I don’t mean to alarm you friend, but you most certainly have the winter doldrums.


Up until now I have only hinted at my medical condition, trying to make light of it, but today I want to tell the whole sad story; a story of bafflement, suffering, survival, and chocolate.


A baffling wind blew on the day of my birth, or perhaps fate had nothing better to do that day than to ruin my life, but I was born with the tantrums. Unless you have a medical background, you probably don’t know that the doldrums come from the tantrums. Back in the early 1800s, an etymological virus blew in on a baffling wind and infected the word “tantrum,” replicating the second syllable. People who were feeling dull and listless were highly susceptible to this second syllable and soon started coming down with what came to be known as the doldrums.


I was born with a particularly virulent form of the tantrums, and anyone who comes in contact with me is almost guaranteed to get the doldrums and break out in bafflement, unless I take my medication.


From birth, I cried all night and slept all day. Nothing pleased me, and no amount of soothing, rocking, or holding calmed me. My mother, an unlicensed non-nurse, came down with the doldrums and immediately suspected that I wasn’t hers. However, the hospital refused to take me back, so she knew she had to do something. She did what any mother who loved her child and feared for her own sanity would do; she started medicating me with caffeine through my feeding tube (AKA baby bottle). If you’re into heartbreak and tragedy, you can read about it here.


Photo from http://ghirardelli.com/about/ (Personal note to Ghiradelli: How many times do I have to promote you to get some love back?)

Having discovered that administering caffeine to me reduced her suffering significantly, my mother began giving me Easter baskets filled with even more medication, cleverly wrapped in foil to look like little brown eggs. I thought it was candy!


As I grew, so did my tantrums, and I finally had to face the fact that I would need to be on medication for the rest of my life. I’ve come to terms with it now, partly because my family is so understanding and supportive. No matter what the occasion, at least one of my loved ones presents me with coffee or chocolate. None of them ever uses the word “medicine,” but I see the suffering behind their smiles. They take my condition very seriously.


This past Christmas my brother bought me a machine that prepares my liquid medicine called a Keurig. It’s pronounced “cure rig,” and that’s exactly what it does; it’s the rig that delivers the cure. This month to commemorate the baffling wind that blew that fateful day so many years ago, my sister sent me a supply of medicine from Ghiradelli, the well-known pharmaceutical company.


How do you do it, you may be asking. Frankly it’s hard. But I manage. I think the hardest part is when the grandchild comes over. The little one sees my medicine container and doesn’t understand. No, darling, I have to say, that’s grandma’s medicine. The poor little thing thinks it’s candy. So like myself when I was young.


I had to make my own medicine reminder box because the tablets are so large. However, they are surprisingly easy to swallow.

My medicine box helps remind me to take a minimum of one tablet per day.

To prevent my tantrums from infecting others, I must take two kinds of medication: one in liquid form, the other in tablet form. (I won't be offended if you feel sorry for me.)


I have more to say on this subject because medication alone cannot beat the winter doldrums; you also need exercise. However, my cup is empty. Literally. I’m off to find the cure.


(Disclaimer: The statements made on this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA, the FBI, the CIA, the NEA, or anything other three-letter acronymized organization. Use of chocolate requires supervision and who knows more about super vision than Superman. Unsupervised use of chocolate for the doldrums or tantrums can cause stupor, hyperactivity, enlarged hips, and/or sticky fingers, which can earn you jail time in some states. Some chocolates have been known to melt in your hands, the leading cause of finger-licking and wrapper-licking. If this happens to you, go wash your hands and face. Yearstricken cannot be sued, defamed, made fun of, or held responsible for any reader overmedicating. If, however, you experience relief from your symptoms, Yearstricken should be given credit and/or monetary reward. Mention of Ghiradelli is in no way an endorsement of their products, unless they would like to send me products to endorse because I have written about them twice now.)


Cosmetic surgery for words


I like to think of myself as an Italian cosmetic surgeon for words. Let’s say a word walks into my office and says, “Doctor, I’ve been a noun all of my life. People look at me and think of me as nothing more than a thing. But inside, I feel like I’m a poet. I see things and I want to describe them. Can you help me be an adjective?” Then I say, “You’va come to the right a-place. I’m-a gonna affix you.”

Okay. I know what you are thinking: when did she learn Italian? Well, I was there for three weeks two years ago. Plenty of time to learn the basics.

Prefixes and suffixes are the two most familiar affixes in English, but they shouldn’t be used willy-nilly. You must also know when not to use them. So let’s start with that.

Let’s suppose you have some chocolate and someone in your family discovers where you have hidden it. You have hidden it because you want to protect that person from avarice. We all know that avarice means “an insatiable desire for gain,” and if that family member were to have access to your chocolate, that insatiable desire would cause him or her to gain weight. You hide your chocolate, not because you are greedy, but because you don’t want that person to get any fluffier, and you don’t want to be forced to attach the suffix “-icious” to avarice and call that person avaricious. In this case, you have saved your loved one from being called an ugly name, and equally if not more importantly, you have saved your chocolate.

In our second scenario, your loved one has gone to the store for milk. You are almost out and that makes you anxious because you need it for your next cup of coffee. To deal with the anxiety, you remove your chocolate from the new hiding place in the bottom pull-out drawer in the pantry, take it out of the empty coffee can, which your loved one never opens because he doesn’t like coffee, and savor it with your coffee and the last of the milk. In your chocolate euphoria, you search your mind for a word to describe what you are feeling, and there is “-icious,” whispering to you that it means “full of.” You savor the word; you are chocolicious. You are full of it.

In Which She Rationalizes Her Addiction By Blaming Her Mother (I Miss You, Mom) and Realizes That the Title to the Post is Probably Going to Be Longer Than the Post



When my mother gave birth to five pounds of cranky, she believed she would never sleep through the night again. It was my firm belief that days were for sleeping and nights for crying. Mother’s lack of sleep was her steppingstone to drug use. Not for her, for me. The kind of drug that millions of people use everyday – highly addictive,  yet perfectly legal. She dosed me with caffeine by putting a small amount of coffee in my bottle to give me a buzz during the day. I was still grumpy and hard to please, but I stayed awake long enough to begin sleeping at night.


In the picture, the tall, happy one with the golden curls and Gerber baby smile is not me. That is my annoyingly photogenic sister. I am the dark-haired one, with eyes squinched and fists clenched as if to say, I don’t know who brought me here, but someone’s going to pay. And where is my coffee?