Itís finally come out: I am applying for semi-permanent disability based on the fact that I have been diagnosed with a hithertofore unknown malady: SAD.

Yes, Iím SAD. No, I mean I suffer from SAD. The National Mental Health Association defines this as "seasonal affective disorder."

Thatís me. Nailed it. To a tee.

According to the NMHAís website, "Some people suffer from symptoms of depression during the winter months, with symptoms subsiding during the spring and summer months."

Yup. Couldnít have said it better myself. You all know itís true. Itís this case of SAD I got that makes me so miserable in winter, makes me a Grinch at Christmas, makes me long for spring and kick and scream over the last days of autumn. I am suffering from a semi-terminal case of SAD, and believe me, I ainít too happy about it.

Though it was as early as 1845 that a bunch of people who were clearly SAD were noticed. Youíll see that this was very near the Industrial Revolution, when folks were moved by The Man away from farming, trapping, hunting, fishing, logging, whatever, into dank, dark factories. Itís not much different today, except that the fluorescent light went into wide use in 1938, giving people headaches in addition to being SAD.

It wasnít until the early 1980s that the name was applied. I guess before then it was just called "miserable." The problem, they say, is the light, or the lack thereof, and, "The most difficult months for SAD sufferers are January and February, and younger persons and women are at higher risk."

Iíll have to take issue with the NMHA there, in that I think I am at much more risk than women or younger persons, but maybe Iím biased.

I also agree that light is partially the culprit, but serious scientific studies need to be undertaken on what effects lack of fishing has on SAD patients.

Now, it gets even worse, according to the organization. "Symptoms include: Regularly occurring symptoms of depression (excessive eating and sleeping, weight gain) during the fall or winter months; full remission from depression occur in the spring and summer months; symptoms have occurred in the past two years, with no nonseasonal depression episodes; seasonal episodes substantially outnumber nonseasonal depression episodes, and a craving for sugary and/or starchy foods."

Well, doesnít that explain a whole lot of things? My waistline is clearly a SAD symptom. Will my medical insurance pay for a new wardrobe?

Treatment for SAD includes two or three hours under a sunlamp a day, or one hour under real sun in the outdoors.

Now, think about that very clearly, and youíll see the epitome of whatís wrong with all of the world you and I get forced into: Two or three hours under a sunlamp, or one hour under real sun. Well, whoíd aíthunk? Real sunlight is better for you than artificial sunlight! But, really, if youíre too depressed to go outside, or youíre just too busy with all the rat-race, early-grave-sending stuff in your life to get outside, well, use a sunlamp and you can continue to take care of your duties for The Man.

Me, Iím going fishing just as dadgum soon as I can.

Listen, can you think of a more perfect arrangement? I can go to the shrink and get my diagnosis. The doc calls my boss.

"Mr. Stouff is SAD," The Shrink tells my boss.

"Boy, you said a mouthful there, bub," My Boss notes.

"No, I mean he is diagnosed SAD," The Shrink repeats.

"For as long as Iíve known him," My Boss agrees and hangs up because itís close to deadline.

One way or the other, though, I get the diagnosis and get to go on extended medical leave for my SADness, and since the only treatment is sunlight, I could either sit in a lawn chair in the front yard or go fishing. Which do you think I should do?

Ah, but you are an observant reader, and are now thinking, "But Rog, you said an hour of sunlight is enough, compared to three hours of artificial light."

Yes, youíre quite right, give yourself an A for paying "attention"!

What you have failed to realize, however, is that I am, in fact, seriously SAD, very nearly terminally SAD, and will require eight to 10 hours of natural sunlight a day, which would be up to 30 artificial light hours a day, and the math just doesnít work, therefore only natural light will suffice.

Iíll concede though, that on days when itís cloudy and raining I wonít be able to get natural sunlight, so I wonít go fishing and will report in for work if I feel up to it.

So I expect to begin treatment just as soon as possible, and I know youíre all wishing me a speedy recovery. I donít think it will be (in fact, Iíll make sure of it) but am appreciative of your kind thoughts.