I have heard it all over the years, but certainly not for awhile.
“My kids think I’m crazy. I can’t even walk out of the bathroom without sticking my head out as far as I can and look both ways.”
I can’t count how many times I heard that one.
“I walk around the house on tiptoes, being so careful with each step. My wife keeps feeling my forehead to see if I have a fever.”
Not that uncommon.
“I can’t even get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom without putting on my pants, shoes, coat and hat.”
These are all the classic symptoms, most of which have disappeared over the years, but the way this winter has started, I am concerned that they will be reappearing at a frantic pace very soon.
When FATSO started offering personal and private consultations years ago is when the admission of these symptoms first came to the surface.
For the uninitiated, FATSO stands for Flatlanders Adjusting To Solitary Oblivion, a winter support group for transplants to New Hampshire
I started it with my friend Vinnie back in 1995.
One of the first things we noticed in studying those learning to come to terms with their first winters here was a syndrome we called Obsessive Winter Weirdness (O.W.W.)
Back in the mid 90s and earlier in the 2000s we saw quite a lot of this, but in the past couple of years it was an illness that went to the back burner and fell from the public consciousness (as well as losing crucial federal funding).
O.W.W. is brought on by the repetition of certain movements in the winter that carry on into normal day-to –day living, even when they are unnecessary.
For example…the above, aforementioned subject introduced at the beginning of this narrative (It’s fun to sound lawyerly once in awhile) finds it difficult to step out of the bathroom without straining his neck and looking both ways first. This is caused by the repeated motion of inching one’s car out into traffic while stretching the neck forward so as to try and catch the sight of oncoming vehicles beyond the sight line of ten-foot high snowbanks.
Over the course of a day, between home, work, shopping, etc., this motion suddenly becomes ingrained into the psyche of those suffering from O.W.W. and becomes a part of the rest of their waking hours. The same can be said for the “walking around the house on tiptoes” phenomena. This is triggered by the constant daily struggle of trying to wend one’s way safely across large ice-covered parking lots. The mind adjusts to this common defense mechanism and, after weeks of this motion, carries it over into non ice-related circumstances.
The last example my subject had mentioned; putting on pants, shoes and coats even for middle of the night trips to the bathroom, is more common than you might imagine. Of course, this is triggered by the daily routine of having to cover one’s self in full winter armor even when making a simple trip out to the car to get the package you left out there or just taking out the garbage.
There are many other symptoms of Obsessive Winter Weirdness: the nervous foot caused by the motion of constantly tapping on the brakes as if driving in a snowstorm, the food shopping splurges caused by the constant fear of being trapped for days in your home without proper nourishment after hearing overblown news forecasts about a “Winter Storm Warning,” and the 24-hour a day need to turn on the Weather Channel.
If you find yourself, or a loved one, suffering from any or all of these symptom of O.W.W., be assured that you are in good company
FATSO counseling can help you overcome these issues. There’s no need to feel afraid and alone anymore. Feel free to contact us here at FATSO for a consultation. The cost is relatively minimal and we’ll even throw in your choice from our full-line of FATSO gear (www.cafepress.com/nhflatlander). The sooner you come to terms with and rid yourself of this common problem the sooner you can live a fuller life.
Address your winter fears. You’ll be glad you did.
Next week I will present my well researched predictions for 2017.
Brendan Smith is the author of “The Flatlander Chronicles” as well as Best Of A F.O.O.L. In New Hampshire.” He also loves to tell his Flatlander Tales and other stories to groups and organizations. Find out more at his website www.BrendanTSmith.com