Swell Affective Disorder

It can appear anytime of year…more frequent in the summer but possible anytime. When the surf  stays below waist high for 2 weeks, the symptoms arise. When the longest range forecasts show no hope, a mild melancholy begins. Swell Affective Disorder. Lots of swimming, diving, longboarding, SUPing and going straight on knee-high whitewater just to get wet. Sure thats all fun, but it doesn’t fill the sensory void left without powerful surf.  

The official DSMFD-V logo for Swell Affective Disorder (SAD)
The official DSMFD-V logo for Swell Affective Disorder (SAD).

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Fake Disorders (DSMFD-V) states, “some waveriders experience a serious mood change when the Ocean goes flat. They may stare at the Ocean too much, feel minor melancholy and have difficulty concentrating on or completing tasks. Although, when the swell comes back, they’ll still have difficulty concentrating on or completing tasks.”

Roommates, coworkers and significant others can all sense it. You can be the most cheery positive person around, but when SAD hits, you wear it in your slumped shoulders and sad face. Maybe you catch up on other priorities and hobbies or maybe you just daydream about past sessions… gasping for breath after a big barrel and a bigger thrashing. It’ll come again. But until a large cyclone spins over open Ocean, you’ll be afflicted with Swell Affective Disorder. 

The sufferer goes through different stages: from watching constant surf movies and gazing longingly at the sea to not even wanting to see the flat Ocean or watch perfect waves. It begins with checking the 17 day forecast multiple times a day hoping for a blip and a bump. A weak jet stream and blocking high pressure are frequently the culprits. They are despicable, atmospheric conditions that keep swell from reaching our coast. The anti-purple blob and the root of our melancholy. 

Anti-purple blob. Image: StormSurf
Anti-purple blob. Image: StormSurf

As SAD runs its course, the sufferer maybe only checks the forecast every other day with deeper and deeper sorrow as the storm track remains quiet. Of course, the local conditions are offshore and glassy the entire time its flat. Waves will always come again. It is against the laws of physics that govern the Multiverse for the Ocean to stay flat forever. But in our jaded minds, it feels like the surf came in the long, long ago and will probably never come again. 

Hey jet stream....WAKE UP!
Hey Jet Stream….WAKE UP!

Then finally, a spike on the long range forecast! Relief and excitement wash over. The next two weeks are spent clearing the schedule and watching every isobar on every model…But let’s be real for just a second, if lacking swell is the worst part of your month, you’re still having a pretty good month. Living near the Ocean, healthy and without superfluous drama. But damnit, I wish there were waves!!!


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Swell Lines Magazine

Bodysurfing yarns woven 'tween crest & trough