N.B: This post was written as I noticed that spring seemed to be hard for so many people that I love. Grief, trauma, depression. I’ve been there myself, even though it has been many years since my struggle with depression. I still struggle with heightened anxiety of this time of year, and it’s important for me not to forget, even though I am content, and even though spring and summer now give me more joy than sorrow, that this time of year is still difficult for so many.
As winter starts to fade away, as the daylight hours increase, as everything seems to start blooming and thriving, depression and anxiety are suddenly thrown into much starker relief than during the cold, dark, wintry, stormy days and nights of late autumn and winter.
At first, I couldn’t quite place why spring always felt so very awful. It was absolutely incongruent: wasn’t I supposed to be as cheery as a floral-print dress, as refreshed as a cool pint of lemonade? The seasons, indeed, seem to have odd emotional mandates: the thoughtfulness and reflection of autumn; the melancholy and mutedness of winter, the serenity and sensuality of summer, and, yes, the insistent optimism of spring.
It was this optimism that made spring so terribly painful: it was the feeling of the world coming suddenly alive again, everything thawing much too quickly, and all I desperately wanted to do to stay under the covers. Winter had been slow, you see, there was time to be quiet, reserved; the pathetic fallacy of melancholy weather. Huddling and waiting for the bus on a rainy winter morning inspired a grumpy sort of solidarity. Nobody begrudged us our groans or our grim, sleepy stares. A tear or two would go unnoticed as the rain or snow besieged our faces. Snow was a blanket, a hush.
Spring sunlight, in contrast, is glaring, insistent, demanding – do now, grow now, be now, happiness now, futurity now! Vibrant greens, out with the dank, damp, grey! Sunshine and smiles – aren’t you happy that it’s so gorgeous out? Have you started in on your garden yet? Are you just about finished school? Are you working out? Have you got summer plans yet? Isn’t it wonderful to be alive? Aren’t you simply grateful for this gorgeous, divine season that is upon us?
“It’s time to turn a new leaf,” they say, as if somehow, springtime ought to cut short the allotted seasons for grief, for sorrow, for exhaustion, for longing.
After so many months of darkness, this gnawing, insistent, intolerable inertia can compel one to slam the blinds closed, shutting out the sunshine streaming through the window.
And so, for those for whom the spring thaw is painful, know this: you are not alone.