Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder | Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

March 19, 2012

Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder

No, you won't find Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder in the DSM-IV-TR.  

But I'm coining the phrase.

The coming of beautiful weather, warmer temperatures, longer days (not to mention the opening of Rita's across the nation), makes everyone swoon.  Moods lift, smiles linger, kids frolic and there is a general feeling of ease and happiness permeating every household.

Except mine.

You see, the coming of Spring ushers in for me a creeping anxiety. It starts small, in the pit of my stomach. And slowly builds until it radiates from my entire being.  That's right.  Spring makes me panic.  I dread Spring.

You can stop shaking your heads now.

I've thought about it a good bit.  Why do I get so antsy during the time of year everyone has been waiting for?  So many people dread winter, with it's short days, long nights, bitter cold, dreary grey. I kind of like the winter. I don't feel closed in. I like the cold.  I like the night.

I've pinpointed the onset of my feelings to about 2 years ago. 2 years ago we bought our current house and moved 30 minutes away from home.  I've shared small pieces of that journey - how badly we wanted to buy a house, how we somewhat regretted the decision we made but couldn't do anything to reverse it. My first summer here, I was newly pregnant, so I was tired, nauseous and I had a short hospital stint for what my doctor thinks was meningitis. On top of my physical ailments, I hated living so "far" from home (I know 30 minutes isn't far. But it is inconvenient), I hated being a homeowner, and finances got a little tight. 

I don't look back fondly on that summer.  

Fast forward a few months to last Spring.  We were becoming more accustomed to being homeowners, but still missed home.  Our fight against bugs began.  Last Summer was a nightmarish 3 months of homeowner hell (air conditioner breaking, PECO bill soaring, uncooperative HVAC company), coupled with haywire finances (Hubby is a teacher and does not get paid in the Summer) that left us scrambling to meet our needs (or ignoring the rising stack of bills that never seemed to go away). Hubby and I spent the better part of last summer scared, anxious, slightly depressed and fumbling through what options we had to fix our mess.

I don't look back fondly on that summer.

And here we are again: Spring.  The first day of Spring is actually tomorrow, March 20.  But the weather has been picturesque for several weeks now after the eerily mild winter. I have been closing my ears and saying "LALALALA" whenever any of my friends rejoice the coming of Spring. Watching the warming forecasts over the last few weeks, I could feel my blood pressure slowly start to rise.  

I fear the onslaught of bugs that would arrive with the beautiful weather (our yard is actually all but unusable between May and October due to these fierce mosquitos that we cannot get rid of).  I fear that our air conditioner (which still hasn't been fixed, and made the warmer-and-humider Fall quite unpleasant) wouldn't be fixed in time.  I feared the cost of fixing the air conditioner. And I fear more than anything that we'll find ourselves out of money mid-way through the Summer, leaving us in a downward spiral of depression. 


But here's the thing: we can't live that way. Worrying. Anxious.  We cannot be ruled by fear (even if it is self-imposed).  We cannot live wondering "what if." So...

...I've come to a few conclusions that I need to hold tight:

I need to be grateful for what I have today
I have a roof over my head and food in my fridge.  I live in a cute little up-and-coming town. I have friends who love me and family who takes care of me. I have 2 beautiful, healthy daughters. I have an amazing husband.  Today is good. And if today is not good, tomorrow is a new day.

Don't stress about something that hasn't happened yet
My friend, Brie, reminded me of this.  She had a rough birth and first year with her first child.  When she was pregnant with her second, she was preemptively anxious for how hard things would possibly be. As she was dealing with those feelings last year, I encouraged her that this time around might be totally different.  And you've learned how to cope.  You've learned that all things in childhood are a season - they eventually end and you'll get through it.  So it is with life.  This Summer might be totally different than the past 2 Summers.  And if it's not, we've been through it before and we know how to cope.  We'll get through it.  But don't preemptively worry about something that may never materialize. It's wasted emotion.

You never know what is around the corner
It would be irresponsible to not plan ahead.  But, there is some excitement and joy that there are things down the road we know nothing of.  Opportunities.  Good news. Exciting offers.  Who knows what this Summer will bring?  Everything in life is a season, and there are plenty of surprises thrown in along the way.

I know reading this might make you think I'm out of my gourd. And until you go through something that affects you so deeply, you might not understand.  But for those who get it, hold on to those few truths.  We need to believe some good is lying just ahead!

And here's to hoping the Reverse Seasonal Affective is reversed this year :)


  1. I feel the way you do for spring, when winter hits. My husband and I own 2 seasonal companies which operate in spring, summer, and fall. When winter comes, we rely on the snow (snow plowing) for money. After the holidays commence, and all the "excitement in the air" is gone, I know all I am facing is the wait for snow and our tight budget.

    This past winter was the toughest winter for us, it snowed only once and to top all that-I couldn't find a winter job (which has never happened to me before). I get the funny feeling that when next winter comes, I will be a total basket-case because of what I have just lived through this past winter.

  2. Isn't it amazing how much seasons play into our emotions and thoughts? I'm sure the feelings have more to do with the circumstances (yours, being the jobs, me being the general blah of what summers have been like for us) - but it's so good to hear that others deal with this too!

  3. not stressing about what hasn't happened yet is great advice to follow. it's hard not to anticipate problems but you never know what's gonna come next.

  4. Turns out there really *is* something called "reverse seasonal affective disorder"...

    I was looking it up for an entirely different reason... and the link for this post popped up! How weird is that??

    :-) Lb


Hey! Share a thought or two - I'd love to hear from you! ~ Steph

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