It’s No Substitute for the Sun

My psychiatrist is a fan of “happy lamps,” lamps that use full-spectrum bulbs to treat wintertime seasonal depression. A really big fan. Opening his office door is like entering a scene in “Poltergeist”: I’m blinded by a powerful glow that emanates from every direction. I must rely on his voice in the distance calling out to me in order to orient myself. This is how our appointments begin: I go toward the light.

His phototherapy light is essentially the size of a big-screen TV. This gives our appointments a sci-fi type of atmosphere, as if we’re meeting on a holodeck in “Star Trek.” I stare at his theatrically warm smile and his very white, bright teeth, which themselves seem to be glowing. He appears to be an entirely different species than me — a much happier one. He’s a light eater. It seems to have made his skin glow, to have fortified his enamel.

Meanwhile, the only thing I’m radiating is desperation. It feels as if it’s been winter forever, and the forecast is for more of the same. Basically, I want some of whatever he’s on, pronto.

by Alissa Nutting, The New York Times

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