Managing the Seasons

  • Post by The Not So Down and Out Mom
  • Jan 27, 2021

A Quiet Battle

During the last year it has been very obvious that our country as a whole has been having a tough time. Covid-19 hit us very rapidly and within days our world was changed. Often, I think about the typical battles we fight in our everyday lives: parenting challenges, work challenges, relationship challenges, emotional challenges. Now, we’re all forced to manage those challenges in the middle of a pandemic. I think we can all relate to the idea that our minds and bodies cannot handle much more madness thrown at us. However, there is another battle that many, many people have to fight during this time of year: Seasonal Depression and Anxiety. Why bring this up in a blog about special needs parenting? Well, because like many people, I, myself, have had my own battles with anxiety and depression (and still do) and these battles often have a large effect on my parenting life.

What is Seasonal Depression?

Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder as it is more commonly titled, is defined as a form of depression that is related to changes in seasons and usually occurs at the same time each year. Most often, it presents during the colder months of the year when most people stay indoors because it is too cold to go outside. There are many different ways that seasonal depression can manifest in people. For some, it brings high levels of anxiety (me!). For others, it creates a lack of energy or motivation (also me!). For many people it is mild, for others it can be more severe.

Seasonal Depression in the Time of Covid

I remember the winter of 2019 into 2020 being uneventful. For most people who have mild depressive episodes in the winter, it wasn’t all that of an unusual time. Jump ahead to the winter of 2021, and most peoples’ winter depression is now paired with the inability to leave their houses. I think we can all agree that the initial idea of working from home seemed appealing: later wake-up time, comfy clothing, schedule flexibility. Now, almost a full-year into this, it’s beginning to lose its appeal. Having to wake up day after to day to the monotony of sitting in front of a computer screen for seven hours a day is depressing in and of itself. Doing that monotonous dance while also battling seasonal depression is even harder.

Managing These Big Feelings

I’ve been reading up lately on things I can do to make this pandemic winter more manageable. I think one of the most important things one can do when faced with these deeper, darker emotions is to recognize them, acknowledge them, and accept them. There isn’t anything bad about feeling depressed or anxious. Allow yourself to feel the big feelings.

I found this great graphic from Johns Hopkins and I think it offers a lot of insight into Seasonal Affective Disorder. I also appreciate the suggestions on how to combat the symptoms.


Depression, Anxiety and Toxic Positivity

Often it is hard to think of the right words to say to someone who is dealing with depression or anxiety. If you can’t directly relate to them, then it becomes hard to truly empathize. However, there are things you can do to help a loved one while they fight their battles, even during a pandemic. So often, though, I think the first thing we all think of is “positivity”. Let’s just spread some positivity and then everyone will feel better! Unfortunately, this is probably the least helpful approach. According to Tanglaw Mental Health, Toxic Positivity is defined as:

“The excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy and optimistic state in any situation–in the denial, minimization, and invalidation of genuine human emotional experience”.

In short, when a person is going through something difficult, trying to insist on positivity only makes that person feel worse. The best thing you can do for someone battling any kind of emotional issue is to just be MINDFUL: mindful of their situation, but most importantly, mindful of your language. The words you choose to use to support people matter! Again, I’m displaying another graphic because I really think it gives such useful ways to change your language. This display is from The Minds Journal


After reading that graphic, I am sure you all thought the same thing I did initially: “oh no, I’ve said some of these things to people!” It’s okay! Using these phrases doesn’t make you a bad person and it doesn’t mean you’re not being supportive. Everyone is well-intentioned when using these phrases. How great is it, though, that we have resources like this that bring awareness to our language? Now I have a better understanding of how to speak to my friends and family members when they’re hurting.

Ben and I have been reading up recently on language: choosing the right words or phrases to help someone. Our five year old is battling some anxiety of his own. Hybrid learning and the pandemic has definitely taken their toll on him. Through acknowledging his struggles, we’re trying to learn different ways of speaking to him that provide comfort rather than added stress. Honestly, it has NOT been easy. It’s so much easier for me to shout, “Please just get over it!” Self-reflection goes a long way, though. The ability to stop, think, and re-evaluate language makes a huge difference. It has not been an easy change to make, but slowly, we’re getting there.

I think it’s safe to say that pretty much every person right now is dealing with some form of depression and/or anxiety. 2020 was not kind to us and 2021 has yet to be a huge improvement. The most important thing you can do for yourself right now is to recognize your emotions, accept them for what they are, and be patient enough to work through the healing process. You’re not going to feel better overnight, but if you allow yourself the space to acknowledge how you feel, then you’re already on the right track. If you take anything away from this just remember that you’re not alone and that taking care of YOU in these moments is the most important thing. Be well, my friends.

  • Post By The Not So Down and Out Mom
  • Jul 31, 2021
A Reflection on Kindness
  • Post By The Not So Down and Out Mom
  • May 12, 2021
The Magic of Therapy
  • Post By The Not So Down and Out Mom
  • Mar 20, 2021
March 21st