Back in Hobart we had been briefed on the psychological effects of being cooped up indoors 24/7, under fluorescent lights and without the ability to go outside. We learned of a syndrome referred to as ‘Big Eye — the 10-mile stare in a 10-foot room’, which describes the situation exactly.
People zone out: something disconnects in their brain and they become zombie-like. The Americans refer to it as ‘toasted’; in other places, it's called ‘cabin fever’. But it all boils down to pretty much the same thing. If people get in to this state it's very difficult to get them out of it without a change of environment. It's also often a precursor to depression in its many different forms. Some people become aggressive, others despondent and still others anxious. There was no way for me to tell what would happen if someone got into this state and I saw it was my role as leader to pre-empt the problem.
Monday 6th June
Really tired tonight. Suffering from Big Eye — one of the expeditioners caught me in the Mess at lunchtime, just standing there mute, staring at the blackness of the outside world. It's completely dark now, all the time.
I really thought that because I spent all my time indoors anyway it wouldn't matter to me if there was daylight or not. I sit under the indoor lights all day so I figured it would make no difference. ...