As we approach the winter solstice and the days get shorter and the temperatures slowly start to drop, the lack of sunlight and Vitamin D can have a negative impact on people’s mental health. It’s a phenomenon known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, and people with this condition experience a number of different symptoms, including depression, increased anxiety, or, in my case, turning into my alter ego: a hideous 7-foot-tall cave troll named Glargor.
Glargor, not unlike The Incredible Hulk, is a creature that dwells inside me, and takes over my body under the right set of circumstances. In the same way that Bruce Banner turns into The Hulk when he gets angry, I turn into Glargor whenever the concentration of Vitamin D in my bloodstream dips below 15 ng/ml. However, unlike The Hulk, Glargor has no interest in fighting evil and instead seems to prefer living deep underground, feasting on bats, insects, and the occasional stray cat.
I first started turning into Glargor when I moved to the Northeast about 10 years ago for college (before that I lived in the South where the sun always sets at a reasonable hour). It was a cold, windy day, around this same time of year, and I was walking down the street on my way to class when, out of nowhere, I felt my knees give out from under me and I blacked out. The next thing I remember was waking up in a dark cave completely naked and surrounded by half-eaten animal carcasses.
At first, I thought maybe this was just another fraternity hazing ritual, and a tame one at that, but as I emerged from the dark recesses of the abandoned mine shaft that Glargor had chosen to call home, and saw green leaves on the trees and flowers blooming, I realized something else was going on. After retracing my steps (which was pretty easy to do since Glargor leaves a wide trail of death and destruction wherever he goes) I was able to piece together what had happened.
Ever since then, each winter, like clockwork, I transform into Glargor and descend into my subterranean lair where I will remain until the temperatures reach halfway reasonable levels again. Once that happens, usually around late March or early April, Glargor slowly begins his two-week molting process, where he sheds his thick, dark grey carapace, layer by layer, until all that’s left is little old me again, at which point I go back to being my regular self.
People often ask me whether I’ve done anything to try to prevent myself from turning into an 800-pound cave troll year after year, and believe me, I have. But Glargor has destroyed every single full-spectrum lamp I’ve ever bought, and I nearly killed my therapist one year when I accidentally transformed into Glargor mid-session (as a strict Jungian, Glargor disapproves of cognitive behavioral therapy).
Also, before you even ask, no, my health insurance does not cover full-time care for people who transform into half-ton mythical creatures, and even if it did, the premiums alone would be astronomical. So suffice it to say that, when it comes time to make the switch every year, I’m pretty much on my own.
However, there are a few things that do help. With regular exercise, a healthy diet, and keeping all of my window shades open at all times, I’m able to hold off on transforming into Glargor until at least early January. As you can imagine, that’s been a big relief for my family, knowing they’ll be able to see me for Christmas before I metamorphose into a gigantic, angry beast with jet black eyes and 6-inch fangs.
That said, friends, this is just a fair warning that, starting in a few weeks, you probably aren’t going to see much of me, either in person or on social media, and I’m definitely going to be slow to respond to your texts and emails (have you tried typing on an iPhone keyboard when you have 8-inch thumbs?). But believe me, you wouldn’t want to hang out with Glargor anyway. Hygiene isn’t exactly a forte of most cave trolls, and after 6 months of not showering and eating raw wild animal meat, I’m sure you can see why I wouldn't be the most pleasant guy to be around. Also, I’d probably try to eat you. Scratch that, I would definitely try to eat you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go spruce up the cave a little bit, and buy some dried sheep carcasses to stash away for healthy snacking later. I’ll be back to my usual self sometime in early spring and will talk to you all then. In the meantime, if you really need to find me, the entrance to my lair is on the outskirts of town by the abandoned quarry.
But I can’t promise I’ll be in any condition to reply to you other than to utter a low, sustained grunt, which for Glargor either means “Hello!” or “I’m hungry”, I haven’t figured out which yet. Anyhoo, see you all next spring!