Escaping Cabin Fever

By: Connor Lenahan

I did not leave my bed until 5PM today. It was magical. Boston University was granted a day off by the Greek god of snow Frosty the Snowman. By hammering the campus with around a foot of snow, or as my friend Molly described it “a fuckton” of snow, we were all able to stay indoors and enjoy the warmth. Of course many people I know decided to go have a snowball war on the esplanade instead. The ballpark estimate was a few hundred winter warriors cupping precipitation and imitating Tom Brady while venturing onto the now frozen Charles River in celebration of Snowbrawl 2014.

I was not one of these frozen gladiators. I did not leave my room until 5:20 PM today and that was only because I had to announce the BU Women’s Basketball team against Navy. I enjoyed a day spent all alone. It was peaceful. It was the least productive day possible. I loved it.

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I find cabin fever to be fascinating. I can confirm from multiple personal experiences that it is a real phenomenon. It’s not really fun either. Back in the mid-2000’s when I was stuck home for months with broken bones, unable to leave my bed, I started to lose my mind.

You’re probably wondering what level of insanity I was reaching during these temporary jail sentences to my bed. I vividly remember becoming enamored with Handy Manny to the point that I would watch three to four episodes every morning. This was when I was a freshman in high school. There is something very wrong with this picture.

I would legitimately start to go a little crazy during these stretches. Imagine going in every day to school; you see hundreds or thousands of familiar faces, move about from place to place, talk to multiple people, etc. Now, imagine being stuck essentially in one spot for months at a time, isolated from the hefty majority of those people. Unable to move about freely due to injury. It makes sense why your psyche starts to crumble. This was a semi-common occurrence for me over the past twenty years.

Thankfully, I was able to learn how to beat cabin fever. Actually, I even enjoy it now. Where as before I would be stuck in my room with nothing to do but stare at my wall or an afternoon screening of The Price is Right, I now had outlets for my brain. Ways to keep myself active in any way possible.

Now, I’m really cheating when I talk about the last break, but it’s my most recent example. With the cast this past summer I was incredibly mobile. I was only anchored below my left knee to my toes. When I break a femur I lose my entire leg to cast and occasionally my hips as well. I was able to repeatedly leave my house, making the cabin fever lesser by design.

I did have to spend the first few weeks stuck indoors however. This was tough. I was blessed with good timing that allowed many visitors that kept me entertained and made me feel included in the real world, which was more than nice. But during the middle of the day I needed something to keep my brain going. That’s why I made this blog. This was my way of keeping sane. Or at lease somewhat sane.

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When I tell people I live in a single at BU I always get the same sort of question. It comes down to “how do you handle living so isolated?” It’s really easy when you grew up that way. It would be much harder for someone to try and live in a single that is used to lots of people and commotion. I was trained. I always think of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, “you merely adopted the dark, I was born in it, molded by it.”

I’m used to isolation like that. In fact, it became normal enough that I found it comforting. I could hear myself think. I could disappear when I needed to get things done. Like writing articles, I just pop on headphones alone in my room and the world disappears. This is also my way of stress relief. No one can bother me. I have alone time; just Trent Reznor and I.

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I, much like my dad, even enjoy isolation as a plot in movies and television. This would help explain why “Mountain of Madness” is one of my personal favorite Simpsons episodes. It’s Mr. Burns and Homer literally trapped in a cabin. It’s hilariously funny and somehow relatable.

Isolation has an odd connotation when you say it out loud. It conjures images of solitary confinement and jail cells. Not to me. To me I see peace. I see a way to let myself figure out what the next move is. To let me catch up with life. To let me catch my breath.

I should be using it to catch up with classes, but that’s no fun. I use it to catch up with television and pop culture. It’s what the almighty Frosty wished for when he struck down with his carrot nose upon the Boston University campus this morning.

So I decided to disappear. To calm down the insanity I live in; for as long as I could any way. It was refreshing. It was needed. It was awesome. If you can figure out a way to avoid the dangers of becoming addicted to children’s television programming and similar sociopathic behavior I highly recommend it. You might end up loving it.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is the founder and editor-in-chief of Connorlenahan.com. He is a freshman at Boston University, majoring in journalism. He can be emailed at lenahan@bu.edu