A completely made-up mood type disorder effecting physically challenged, orthosis wearing individuals at the onset of Spring and Summer.
- Sudden bursts of sadness viewing summer clothing catalogs
- An increase in “I can’t” at the beginning of sentences
- Feelings of annoyance and anger at Starbucks baristas and other overly cheerful people
- A noticeable increase in Netflix binge couch days.
- Usually self-diagnosable
- Extremely contagious
For those people without physical disabilities, spring symbolizes a renewal of energy and light.
At the first sign of warm weather, people “spring clean” their closets and can’t wait to pull out the cute sundresses and sandals they stored away all winter. The neighborhood runners begin their early AM marathon training, and groups of speed walking moms start their daily calorie burning routines.
While people with physical challenges may be happy to see flowers blooming and to no longer have to worry about slipping on ice, the change in season can also serve as an “in your face” reminder of your losses and physical limitations.
Maybe you were once able to speed walk with the other moms and now struggle to walk the length of a mall. Or, your balance has worsened and last year’s family bike rides now seem just as terrifying to you as the thought of walking a tightrope.
For leg brace and wearers of other types of orthotics, the change in temperature also brings with it the problem of what to put on your body that doesn’t make you feel frumpy and over-heat you. Spring means that summer is coming, and for you, throwing on shorts & flip-flops for a day at the beach is not an option.
Even if you have lived with a disability your entire life, a new season can trigger feelings of self-pity and sadness over the “what if’s” in your life.
If you think you may have the made-up, totally not real diagnosis, “Seasonal Self-Pity Syndrome”, what follows are some suggested self-help treatment options. (These suggestions are aimed at people who are in a rut and off their usual game. If your symptoms”are on-going and you’re feeling depressed and/or suicidal, please go see a mental health professional immediately. )
HAVE A PITY PARTY
Your feelings are normal and valid and it’s important to acknowledge them. When we blow them off or try to block them, those same feelings tend to linger on and intensify. I give myself a 6-8 hour pity party each spring to feel the feelings that bring me down.
There are no balloons or cake at my annual pity party. I just sit with the sadness and notice how my body feels when I think about all of the things I used to be able to do and wear. Like the fact that it annoys and angers me that my feet swell and look even fatter when its hot out, and that I feel angry that I can’t wear high heels and pretty summer dresses like other women do. Ok, blah blah blah…You get the point.
Obviously, it’s a pretty boring and depressing party and I eventually get sick of being bored and depressed. But, by giving these feelings a start and end time, I am less likely to misdirect them and/or use destructive ways to cover them.
SUBSTITUTE “I CAN…”
While it may seem like your body is failing you and outdoor physical activities are a struggle, it’s helpful to remind yourself of the physical activities you can do. I can hear my mom say as I write this, “There’s always someone worse.”
When I think about the physical activities I cannot do, I try to substitute the things I can do instead. My legs may not allow me to climb a mountain, but at least I have them and can use them to climb small hills.
VOLUNTEER AT CAMP, OR ANYWHERE
One of the proven ways (I’m sure there’s a study somewhere) to feel good about yourself and your life, is to help others to do the same.
Many non-profit health organizations (including the MDA & CMTA) have free summer camps for kids that depend on volunteer staff. Some of the children who attend these camps have severe physical limitations.
Volunteers are a part of providing these children with life-changing summer experiences. What better way to simultaneously change your perspective and your own life for the better.
AVOID THE ONLINE NEGATIVITY
I know a lot of people love and depend on online support groups, but I am personally, not a huge fan. Although there are a ton of awesome people in these groups giving one another support and valuable advice, there are way too many Debby Downer types (sorry to those named Debby) dominating the posts. The awesome people aren’t on them 24/7 as they are too busy living.
When you have Seasonal Self-Pity Syndrome, social media should be avoided in general if it doesn’t make you feel good.
This would be considered blatant self-promotion if I was selling something on the website, but I am not. I created the Trend-able website to help women who have invisible disabilities look and feel their best.
If you wear orthotics or afos, check out the Trends page for some shoe inspiration. If you have a summer wedding and don’t know what to wear and/or dread going to a pool, read my blogs on Cocktail Parties and Resort Pool Tips. Learn some new techniques and trends you can wear and use.
Then, treat yourself to something new and spring-like. Buy a bright shade of lipgloss instead of neutral or change your hair part to the other side.
Embrace the change of season by making small feel good changes to your appearance and everyday routine.