After a long hard slog through winter it is a relief to have signs of spring in view. The snow-drops peaked out from the receding snowbanks a week ago. The crocuses are up, their purple petals just starting to unfurl. The rain is softly falling outside. I sit at the dining room table, lights blazing in the midst of a grey morning, listening to music that cheers me.
As someone who was first diagnosed with mild, chronic depression more than twenty years ago, I keep my fingers crossed all the long January/February/March months that the grey clouds that hover on the horizon of my psyche stay put. And so….comes April showers. And with them, the relief that one more winter is down. But I wasn’t.
I’ve learned over the years that accepting the fact of my psyche is part of my ability to deal with it. And I no longer keep it secret. I don’t normally go around broadcasting it either, but recently I was talking with a young woman who is struggling and I found myself telling her that I knew only too well what she was going through. I too had struggled mightily and then a day dawned over twenty years ago that I didn’t enjoy going through life the way I was and that maybe there was another way to deal. Sometimes we just need someone else to tell us that it’s okay. It can all be okay.
“Mental illness” sounds so threatening. But the brain is a part of the body. Sometimes we forget that. Chemical imbalances in the brain are just as valid as chemical imbalances in the rest of our bodies. We don’t tend to blame those who suffer from hypoglycemia. Why do those of us who struggle with depression blame ourselves? It dawned on me that if I saw someone with a broken leg struggling to get around without a cast, or crutches, or any aide I’d think, “what the hell are you trying to prove?” I looked in the mirror and thought to myself, “yeah Mary….what the hell are you trying to prove?”
I’ve actually proved it. I’ve proved that I can manage just fine, thank you very much. I can manage thanks to the medication I take; thanks to the counseling and helpful advice I’ve gotten over the years; thanks to a loving family who understands. I manage thanks to perky music on the radio and bright lights turned on around me. I manage by buying myself flowers in the dead of winter. I manage thanks to signs of spring that come after long hard winters. I get through thanks to love and light and laughter and prayer and meditation. I get through by taking the necessary precautions.
I think that is the secret to life. We take the necessary precautions for the things we can predict so that we have the wherewithal to deal with the things that come along that we can’t possibly predict.
What are your necessary precautions?