The glorious fall

Every year I forget; but that only adds to the awe I feel – I love this time of year, I love it with a passion that I feel in every inch of my being.

It seems rather illogical, when you think of the cold, the shorter days, the dark, dark nights and even darker mornings… it would seem as though that should be detrimental to me rather than bringing so much joy.

Regardless, I love it because no matter where you look there is a riot of colour just waiting to grab your attention – it is almost as though the world is putting on a show; its like fireworks without the noise, like a painting, its surreal, its anticipation, its the visual representation of poetry, emotion and the hopeless romantic inside my soul… The crunch of those leaves under your feet is utterly sublime, many a time me and my children have played amongst them and doesn’t it just feel so magical with those leaves falling all around you, like a cascade of nature. I love that crisp chill that fills the air, its so fresh and clean and beautiful; it fills me with a child-like excitement that I can barely explain – I love wrapping up warm in a cosy coat, gloves, scarf and hat, I love hot chocolates and hot water bottles and cosy blankets while the world rages outside the windows and there is something fiercely delicious about the low autumn sun beating down on you as the bitter wind wars to chill your bones, it makes me feel alive. Walking is a sheer pleasure in this weather and somehow, despite the world dying to hibernate for winter, it feels more of a time for nature than any other to me. In fact, just a few weeks ago I spotted my first robin of the year and got so excited I think people were quite worried about me!!

Why is it that I feel healthier and happier at this time of year? All my research would suggest that the sun (or lack of) should play a large part in my mental health and wellbeing – but this is my time, this is when I thrive.

I must say that life is better than it has ever been for me and it just keeps improving as time goes on; though I still stumble and live through peaks and troughs, I survive, I carry on and nothing seems so impossible anymore, what everyone said would happen, has happened and now all my mental health management doesn’t feel as though it is such a conscious battle; more and more it is becoming second nature to me.

I’ve noticed that I’ve started practicing mindfulness a lot more – ironically, not purposefully, it is simply coming naturally. For example – when waiting to cross the road; instead of feeling the impatience at my wait and debating whether to cross early; I feel the wind, I notice the sky, I smell the air, I hear the trees rustle in the breeze, I feel my feet where I stand – it sounds almost silly but I truly believe it has been healing for my soul to find patience in my life and a sense of calm and peace. There is no rush; nothing will implode if I do not rush across the road – I have time to wait, I have time for peace. There are many issues that we with Bipolar disorder suffer and I would hate to narrow it down to one point and spout the lie that this is the cure because the truth is that it is different for everyone, we all find peace in different ways; but I do believe that we need to take more time to listen to what our own mind and body is telling us. If you have a million thoughts inside your mind and it will not calm enough to let you rest; don’t attempt to block it out or ignore – grab a pen and some paper and write each thing down; dissect why they are in your mind, embrace your feelings and calm that mind with time, show yourself the courtesy of listening.

I’ve also started noticing that nobody is as together as we all assume; I’ve started seeing people properly instead of seeing them all as above me and believing that they had something that I didn’t. You may not have a degree, but they don’t brush their teeth. You may not have made it out of the house today but they forgot to remind their son to do his homework. You may have had an argument with your mum/dad/sister/uncle but they have realised they’re unhappy in their marriage. Perhaps you have smelly feet, they have debts up to their eyeballs. You’re addicted to gambling, they’re addicted to online shopping. You didn’t iron your shirt this morning, they’re wearing yesterdays underwear; this is life, this is humanity… our problems are different but they’re the same because no matter the scale of severity they feel hopeless to us. This is ok; this is as normal as it gets.

This time last year I couldn’t have imagined being as healthy as I am now. I often say that to myself in times that feel dire and unbearable ‘this time next year it’ll all be different and there will be progress; things will be better’ and though it changes nothing in that moment; it gives me a goal to strive for and when I reach that year I can look back on all that I have done and see through clear eyes that yes, nothing is quite so dire anymore.

So much  has changed for me and yet nothing has really changed; it is almost an imperceptible change but it is there nonetheless. I have a job, I have a boyfriend, I enjoy life more, I am more positive, I am calmer and more accepting of others, I am more confident, I am happier, I am healthier and I know myself inside and out.

Perhaps that is why I love the autumn with such a passion. Because it mirrors my own sense of renewal; shed the old, the negative, the unnecessary baggage – spend some time, alone, bare, naked in the sense that you strip back the façade, the mask that says ‘I’m ok’ and then, when the time is right, bloom.

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