Community Roundup: Winter Blues and Freak Show TV

Are TV shows capitalizing on others' anxiety disorders?

Today is a weird kind of weather day. On the one hand, it’s about 20 degrees warmer than it’s been all winter and kind of feels like spring. The birds are chirping and I’ve got a little spring in my step, knowing that winter’s days are numbered. On the other hand, it’s windy, completely overcast and as dreary as a day can get. From my window, it looks like just another miserable day, and I’m sad that the rain won’t hold off until I finish my work and can go outside. All this to say, my mood is very much determined by the weather. I don’t have to check in with a psychic to know how I’ll be feeling one day to the next -- a meteorologist can do that for me.  

Clearly, I’m not the only one swayed by sunshine and clouds. Six percent of Americans are affected by a form of seasonal depression known as seasonal affective disorder (appropriately acronymed SAD), and other 10-20 percent experience a milder version of it, which we call the winter blues.

On the Bereavement and Healing board, iVillage member promiseplease says she has noticed that her memories of her late husband are also influenced by the weather. “It has been so wet, cold and gloomy this last week, and I found that I was really thinking a lot about Luke and the negative memories of his loss. Today, though, it is really bright, the sun is shining, and it's a bit warmer, and I have been having happier memories like the day we capsized our canoe.”

“The weather does affect our moods, and I think grieving, too. I know when it’s grey or stormy out I just want to stay in bed and usually end up crying. LOL. So I wouldn't be surprised if it’s common,” says hubbswifey.

How has the weather affected your mood this past winter? Does it make life’s challenges even harder for you to bear? Talk about it on the message boards, or chime in below.

Speaking of life’s challenges, elsewhere on the boards members are talking about TV shows that capitalize on people’s neurotic tendencies, obsessive behaviors and addictions -- like Hoarding: Buried Alive, Intervention and My Strange Addiction. What do you think of these shows? Are they harmless and entertaining, helpful to those who are suffering, or exploitative and cruel?

I have to admit, I love a good neurosis, in part because I’m a big ball of them myself -- and I enjoy nothing more than a memoir that details a person’s struggle with destructive behavior. But when I tried to watch Freaky Eaters (the episode where the brother was addicted to eating raw meat), I felt like everyone was ganging up on the guy, and came away from the show thinking, just let the guy have his steak tartare already. He was actually eating day-old money-saver cuts of meat, so not quite the same thing. But the show was trying so hard to make it salacious that I found myself going in the opposite direction and actually defending him.

On the Panic, Anxiety and Phobias board, lkg7432 says she hasn’t watched shows like My Strange Addiction because, “it feels like I'd be going to a freak show, which I think is wrong. Other people's pain and oddities shouldn't be my entertainment.”

Member jessdelphinian agrees. “I don't watch those shows, because I do think it's wrong. I wonder at the motivation behind them. I don't believe it's to educate and raise awareness,” she says.

Still, if the people with these obsessive behaviors are willing to put themselves out there for the world to gawk at, perhaps they don’t mind being exploited? It makes me wonder what was in it for them. Are they just interested in their 15 minutes of fame, no matter what the cost? Or were they promised professional help that they might not have access to otherwise? Or maybe it was just a big fat check that convinced them to go on the show. What’s your take? Are these TV shows doing more damage than good? Chime in below. 

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