Tuesday, February 23, 2016


West Yellowstone, Montana, a small mountain town that consists of less than one square mile and sits at almost 7000 feet above sea level, had me at its edge last week. Suddenly, and without warning, I was overtaken by a funk of sufficient size. Was it boredom? West Yellowstone's version of Island Fever? Mountain Fever perhaps? An apt name for the big sky blues, I thought, as vast mountain ranges loomed in every direction. Never thought I'd tire of the mountains though.

Yet, I found myself dreaming of Bora Bora and yearning for open water. My kayak, hibernating in the garage, depressed me. I was sick of bundling up every time I wanted to take the dogs for a walk and I missed my sneakers. Thai food too. Even the snow covered meadows, my winter playground, became tiresome. The mountains drew close. My mood was as heavy as my boots, and something had to be done. Something would be done. Years ago, probably by accident, I learned the way to break through a funk and return to a happier place is to take action. Get moving. By taking positive action, I know I'm also taking control of my emotions, and that feels good. Really good.

The first thing I did was write to my uncle, explained to him my circumstances. He lives in a small town in Northern Vermont and has for decades. I figured he should have some insight. "Cabin fever," he wrote back later that night. "You've got a case of it." His cabin fever, he said, sets in after five days; I'd been in this less-than-one-square-mile-town for a month. My fever was high. 

"Go," he wrote. "Go to Bozeman, go to the coffee shop, take a drive with a good CD. Just go." A drive with a good CD sounded wonderful. I hadn't listened to music in weeks, I realized. "Go", he said again at the end of his email. "Going is the cure-all for cabin fever." 

Cabin Fever, a condition not found in the DSM-5, but one psychologists agree exists is, as explained by Dr. Josh Klapow, a psychologist at the University of Alabama, "Your mind's way of telling you that the environment you're in is less than optimal for normal functioning." Hmm. Dr. Klapow continued, "It's when you're in a space of restricted freedom for a period of time that you can no longer tolerate." Right. Time to go. 

So, that's what I did. I went. I snapped into my cross country skis and popped in my earbuds. I put P!nk on shuffle and repeat. I took the first left onto a black diamond trail I knew would challenge my ability. I wiped out almost immediately. I found myself smiling. On the next downhill turn, I narrowly avoided a tree. I tacked on a second five mile loop on a day I lacked almost all motivation. I came home with a black and blue toenail. I wrote my Yellostone/Birthday blog. The words, as if locked in cement, came hard at first, but I made myself push through and ended up with a fun post that people liked. My mood improved. All the while, P!nk played in the background.
                   Where there is desire
                   There is gonna be a flame
                   Where there is a flame
                   Someone's bound to get burned
                   But just because it burns
                   Doesn't mean you're gonna die
                   You've gotta get up and try try try
                   Gotta get up and try try try
                   You gotta get up and try try try

There's a saying in snowmobiling, something I've been doing a lot of out here: When in doubt, throttle out. Lay on the gas. Propel yourself forward. Take action. Go. And watch yourself break through. Because you will. You absolutely, undoubtedly will.  

2/25/16 Update: Interestingly, this post generated zero buzz on my Facebook page, but on email, it went crazy! I enjoyed reading everyone's own experiences with Cabin Fever from how long it takes to get it (2 days to almost never) and the steps they take to cure it (the most popular being GO!). If you get a chance and are interested, please share your experience, ideas, and/or solutions in the comments below. I'm curious! Thanks, Lisa


  1. I'm also to some degree experiencing Cabin Fevor here at home, too. And also I think, as well as my dog Nina, too. I try to GO...GET OUT... GO, too. It helps. I hope I can be able to GO and GET OUT for a LONG TIME to come! (When needed). XO

    1. I hope you can too, Mom,and I'm looking forward to being a part of some of those GO and GET OUT trips in the future!

  2. The most popular solutions thus far are:
    G0! Get out of town!
    Buy flowers, especially daffodils
    Eat canned peaches
    Stock up on good books
    Spend time with a friend
    Shop, or at least poke around stores
    Take a drive with a good CD

  3. Lisa - Interesting post. I almost never get cabin fever, I'm an introvert and recluse and enjoy my alone time. But come spring, I long for a change of scenery, so I head off for Casper or Rapid City or Billings, or even Denver. Looking at other people, eating different food, buying something frivolous usually perks me right up. Music is a big mental help also. I'm glad you found meaning in some P!nk lyrics. I bounce from Alternative to Metal, to Folk songs, searching for that music that fits my mood. Sometimes all on the same day! Since I'm not a winter hiker, I start a new project in knitting weaving or spinning, or write. That solves my mini cabin fevers. Taking the dogs out for a romp changes my mood for the better every time. Good luck!

    1. Ahh, even more great ideas to combat the winter blues! With so many good ideas, I should be able to handle winter until July. Ha, NOT! Projects/Crafts are a great idea too. I just started the legwork for a fundraiser to take place in the next few months, and we're headed to southeastern Utah later this month. I can already feel the 60-70 degree temps! I also can't wait to look at other people. :)

  4. I start to get stir crazy every March. One year, the winter was so long and hard that I took to watching Beach Patrol, a reality show about life guards in Hawaii, San Diego, and Miami. I needed to see the sun and sea and that was the only way!

    1. HA! I love it! What a great idea. A friend of mine recently went to Florida and I found myself staring longingly at his Facebook pictures. I was sad when he returned home. ;-) I wonder if Beach Patrol is on Netflix....