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I live for the cold and dark.
I revel in the winter when everything is stark and bare; the trees with their empty and twisted branches, and the ground covered in white blankets of snow. The days are short, the nights are long, and darkness reigns supreme for many months.
While I don’t know if the part of me living within the frame of my mental illness is the same part responsible for this love I have for all things silent and still, I do know it can be a barrier in my battle for growth in recovery.
When dealing with depression and anxiety the winter months can be especially trying, but not in the way you would expect.
For me, this time of year makes it almost too easy to be rendered incapacitated by my illness. When everything in you is constantly fighting the darkness lying dormant beneath the surface, it becomes thrice as hard when literal darkness has surrounded you as well.
Because of this, I struggle to maintain relationships, go to work, and remain the best version of myself when it’s all too tempting to hide beneath the warm covers of my bed and ignore anything outside of my bedroom. Winter becomes a physical manifestation and parallel to those demons I hold inside of myself.
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This is why the arrival of spring and summer are such promising ways to hold on to any progress made within recovery.
It is also a great time to continue to take new steps forward, too. I am not a city girl, and nature and the outdoors are my haven. I want nothing more during the long daytime hours than to be outside with a book, listening to the music of birds singing while the warm sun falls across my skin.
While I don’t hesitate at all during winter to sleep away the entire weekend, I can’t stand to waste any free hours I have during the warmer months. There are so many things to be done: getting ice cream, visiting my family’s lake home, hiking through local forests, outdoor concerts, and festivals. These things are the definition of my summers.
There are so many opportunities happening naturally during the summer to allow you to focus completely on other things, rather than on the issues your illness may be presenting you with.
I know for me, it’s hard to even think about my anxiety when I’m relaxing on my grandfather’s boat on the lake, with the music turned up, my bathing suit on, and a cool drink in my hand. It’s hard to care about anything other than living in the moment and finding joy in small pleasures.
There is a reason the idea of summer plays such a huge part in our culture, whether through books, music, or other media.
It’s truly a time of growth and rebirth, whether plainly in nature or in ourselves. These next few months are a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. Leave the safety of darkness behind and make your own progress a priority. Seek out people, places, and things that challenge and encourage you to bloom.
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