Every so often I like to write about the seasons. Many renowned poets and writers have written metaphorically about the weather for years, and even common people like me enjoy lamenting about how our moods ebb and flow with each season.
I live the northeastern part of the United States where hard winters abound. This year hasn’t been too bad so far — my community was on the outer fringe of Winter Storm Jonas. We got enough snow to play in, but not enough to disrupt our lives.
Today it is mild. Mid-40’s and sunny. Oh how good the sun feels on my face in the midst of these bleak winter days. Even so, my mood has been especially prone to the doldrums of winter in between the mild weather we have had this year.
Something about the short, dark days, the troubled waters I have navigated since November, and the all around “blah’s” of winter have made for an exhausted ride within myself.
Fortunately, I can acknowledge that winter eventually wanes and spring never fails to arrive, metaphorically and not. Last year, after a torrid winter, when we finally started experiencing some warm sunny days in the spring, my friend proclaimed, “I just feel so hopeful!”
I was thinking back to his words yesterday. And so it goes. Through every hour of darkness, light eventually emerges. I remind myself of this often. Especially as I have come to terms with the bipolar diagnosis I received almost five years ago. I have made a ton of headway talking to my family and friends, emailing them information, and owning up to the fact that I have a brain malfunction that I am unable to control with sheer will-power.
A few weeks ago I had to see a gum specialist that my dentist referred me to due to some problems I am having. I had to fill out paperwork before being seen. A week after that I got a massage at a new place and had to fill out more paperwork. Both forms asked about hospitalizations and medications that I take. For the first time I gave all the information without skipping over anything or not listing the medications I take.
For hospitalizations I wrote: 4
When they asked me to list why, I wrote: childbirth, postpartum psychosis, childbirth, postpartum psychosis.
For medications: I listed the two I take.
For reasons: I listed bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder.
In plain English I wrote the facts. No fluff, no unnecessary information, no excuses. Only the facts.
It was terrifying at first because even though I only had to hand it to a receptionist, I felt very nervous. Like I was truly seen. And maybe I was, but I rationalized afterward, why should I only be seen by strangers in medical offices? Why I am still somewhat ashamed? Why shouldn’t I share with people who matter to me?
I realize that there is an acceptance piece that I have to FULLY reach in my own time, and there is the realization that I am not alone and I won’t be judged by those who love me. Over the weekend, I had a family member listen intently as I revealed my disorders and he simply said, “I support you no matter what.” That’s it. And oddly, that was enough. What a relief not to have to keep carrying this burden. Heck to stop looking at it as a burden. To relieve myself of it and get out of my freaking head. It’s gotten very crowded up there.
Coming forward has not been as hard as I thought. Funny how that happens. Of course, eventually I’ll meet people who might not understand or are critical or skeptical about mental illnesses, but I won’t let those people matter to me or make me feel bad about myself.
I am likening the weather to this time in my life because winter is not over, and I am not through talking to people who matter in my life. I am not done with therapy. And I am not done finding the “right formula” for my treatment. I am making a ton of headway, but I have more work to do during these dark winter days, that also happen to coincide with this sobering time in my life.
Seeing the sun peek out today is a good sign. I’ll take it, because just like I felt last spring, after enduring a rough winter, I know that rebirth is magnificent. That the new seeds planted in the ground and in our hearts begin to bloom into something beautiful.
Today in the United States it is Groundhog Day. If you put a lot of stock in Punxsutawney Phil, he did not see is shadow today, predicting an early spring. I’m all for it, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Nothing against Phil, but I don’t entirely trust ground hogs.
Mild weather or not, again, and according to the calendar, winter is not over yet. I hope new seeds begin to sprout and I’d love to see the daffodils come early this year, but I know that new seasons come in time.
Wishing you all good things today and, especially, during seasonal shifts. Whether metaphorically within yourself or in real-life, every minute is part of the process.