I Am Sad
In the episode, “I am Sad,” Nelson, the Lion, reflects upon his emotions and feelings of depression. The immediate symptom associated with depression that Nelson recognizes is sadness—however, depression is not limited to this sole, isolated feeling; for example, it is not uncommon for children with depression to lose interest in things they love or care about. They may start to come off as more irritable, withdrawn from their surroundings, and sad for long periods of time.
To express the base of the issue, Nelson frequently uses the term “sad” and refers to feelings of sadness. He ponders his sadness and how it is living with him for longer than he believes is normal. Realizing that the length of his sadness has also caused (or been caused by) him to lose interest in things that he enjoys, Nelson explains that dogs don’t make him happy anymore. The process that Nelson takes to understand and contemplate his feelings is one that can be used by children to help them recognize whether the emotions they experience are similar to his in any way. If so, this may indicate that they need help. A parent should watch this episode with their child and ask them questions along the way to identify if their child is experiencing the emotions that Nelson is conveying.
Nelson talks about an art activity that he does to help with his depression. Note that this activity isn’t for every child, but that it’s a starting point for kids to find something that can be therapeutic for them. A child will need to see a professional therapist in order to receive an art therapy exercise more applicable to their circumstances.
Once Nelson finishes his art activity, he continues his train of thought by recognizing that the activity helps, but that it is not a solution: he needs to talk to an adult. Communication between a child and a trusted adult will be important when helping that child overcome their sadness. Helping kids recognize the thought process Nelson takes can allow them to see how they can receive help when they choose to talk about what they are experiencing.
While this process teaches kids about approaching adults for help, it also requires that parents or trusted adults effectively communicate a sense of love, patience, and understanding for their children when they share their feelings, do the activity in the episode, and so on. This can make it easier for children and can help diffuse any notions of shame or judgment that a child may feel when coming forward to discuss their emotions.