Spring Comes After Winter

Spring Comes After Winter

I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but I’m staring out at another damp, cold, grey day and feeling thankful I don’t have to particularly go anywhere today. And they call this spring?

It’s been a funny winter. Sort of cold, mostly not, sort of dry but mostly damp, wintery but actually not that bad… and every day has been one big wardrobe headache that I’ve mostly got wrong with either a coat too thick/thin or having to carry hats and gloves around because it turned out not cold enough to put them on.

Winter: if you you’re going to be a season, then do it properly. We want snow, ice and subzero temperatures because we know where we stand with them and what to do, and we know when you’re leaving us because of the obvious contrast when spring shows up.

How true this can be of mental health. So often we find ourselves in a wintery season, when everything feels cold and bleak… but as awful as it may be at the time, sometimes the easiest mental health winters to navigate are the ones that are most extreme. They’re the ones that often make accessing help easier, and if you’re in a bad place or deeply unwell there may be some consistency within that, which in a weird, twisted way may provide some predictability at times and gives you something to work with. And of course – when spring springs you can’t fail to notice the change; the cold ebbs away, the sunshine emerges and new life begins.

The milder mental health winters can sometimes be the toughest. Some days are ok, others are not. Some days require hats and coats, others don’t. You never know from one day to the next how you’re going to feel and you may spend every waking moment balancing on the precarious see-saw of wondering if you should ask for help or just keep going and hope for the best; sometimes too ill to fully live but not ill enough to fully stop. Other people may not even notice you’re struggling, which can make getting support even more difficult, and of course, when spring turns up it may go unnoticed; everything’s so jumbled there’s no way of knowing if it really is spring or just an especially mild day, so you hold your breath and daren’t believe the season is passing at all.

We don’t want to live in a world whereby the only way to get better is to first get worse, so how do we find those chinks of light while we wait?

  1. Enjoy the sunny days, allowing yourself to live in the moment and not sacrificing what today has to offer by letting the fear of tomorrow get in the way.
  2. Don’t wait for deep winter to arrive before you ask for help or tell someone things aren’t how you’d like them to be. Let someone walk with you and encourage you, even if you’re not sure what you need.
  3. Celebrate EVERYTHING. Getting up in the morning, making it out of the house, eating a nice meal, enjoying someone’s company, laughter, the bus being on time…  – don’t take the tiny moments for granted but celebrate them liberally
  4. End each day by listing 3 positive things about yourself and the day that’s been. Write them down and build up a collection of affirming statements and memories. Challenging, but very powerful.

Today may all about the woolly jumpers and keeping the log burner going, but those flip flops are closer than we think; hang in there.

‘You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming’ Pablo Neruda

@FreedomFromHarm | @RachelWelch

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