It’s My Birthday, So Now Is The Time Of The Great Sugar Experiment

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

“So what are you giving up for Lent?”

Ah, shit.

I hadn’t really thought about Lent, but my wife and I had started going back to church, and so of course she’d expect me to do all the rituals. I’d never been so religious as to give anything up for Lent before – I’d just made the usual joke of “I’m giving up Lent for Lent,” and made done with it.

But the priest had said that giving up things for Lent should be self-care – “Don’t look at Lent as a time of sacrifice, look at Lent as a time to abandon the things you know are making you sick.”

“Sugar,” I said. “I’ll give up sugar.”

And so I gave it up, for six weeks – which wasn’t actually hard, because that was the beginning of the pandemic, where we all took a deadly disease seriously for some reason, and all my usual ice cream parlors and cake shops were shut down. All I had to do was not order in sweets from the grocery, and I was out.

It was so easy, in fact, that I gave it up for ten weeks. Which you’d think wouldn’t be easy to do considering this overlapped with my Seasonal Affective Disorder, that lovely springtime – yes, springtime – but I was able to get through my time of suicidal ideation without gorging myself on cake. This year was actually light, thankfully, because I did not need crushing self-loathing during pandemic panic.

Then we drove past my favorite bakery one day – which was open again! – and I said, “I want an eclair.” Boom. Sugar-fast: broken.

One day later, I had an argument with Gini. It was a stressful argument, spurred by the pandemic, but on the scale of Arguments We Have Had it was probably a 6, tops.

But it destroyed me. The next day I could barely function. I was weeping, feeling like shit –

Right after the sugar. And a dreadful thought occurred to me:

What if my SAD was light this year because I was off sugar?


Oh, I did not want that.

So I immediately went off sugar again, for the entire month of June, deciding that I will eat sugar on July 3rd, my birthday.

And today is the day. I have a cake. I have an eclair. I have chocolate milk, my favorite drink in the entire world, at the ready. And I will gorge myself…

And see what my mood is, come Monday.

It may be that sugar wasn’t a part of it. I’m kind of hoping it’s not; I really like ice cream. And even if it turns out that “Sugar makes me (more) depressed,” well, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to give up cake; I know the occasional bout of serious drinking makes me feel like crap, but about every six weeks I stay up until four in the morning and drink a lot of bourbon and play videogames until my head spins.

But what I have noticed is that I ate a big ol’ piece of cake today, the kind I used to like, and it tasted almost too sweet. Maybe it’s the cake; I’ve got the eclair and chocolate milk on backup. But I wonder if I’ll get to Monday and go, “Well, that was nice, but maybe I’ll just wait until August.”

Or not. I’ve posted plenty of essays in my journal over the last twenty (!) years where I had an epiphany like RUNNING MAKES ME FEEL GOOD and then I gave up running. I am astoundingly good at realizing what painful, tedious things I should do to maintain my welfare and then going right back to bourbon and videogames.

On the other hand, I have spent more time this year not eating sugar than I have in eating sugar. Which is a first in my history, anyway. And maybe I’m slowly creeping away from it.

Don’t know. I’ll see later next week. All I know is that there’s chocolate milk and a massage in my future today, and I’m gonna enjoy that.

(And for the record, if you want to help me celebrate my birthday, spreading the word about my upcoming book Automatic Reload – due out at the end of this month – would help. There’s a whole essay on what you could do to help my birthday book, if you feel so inclined. That, or you could always celebrate my birthday by donating to a local food pantry.

(…or both!)

1 Comment

  1. lydiaschoch
    Jul 3, 2020

    I hope this isn’t the same for you, but my SAD get much worse when I indulge in sugary things during the winter. (It makes my depression and anxiety worse at all other times of the year, too. But winter is especially bad for it because I’m already at a low point then).

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