There’s something about the sudden change in the air. We don’t have seasons here, we are propelled from Summer to Winter within the space of a week, with little time to adjust. But there’s something about that drop in temperature. That earlier sunset. That cloudy sky. The smell of flora finally allowed to flourish now that the heat has subsided. Rain! What is this rain? We celebrate those fat drops of water. Our grass starts to green again after months of dehydration and water restrictions.
It should be blessed relief. The sun doesn’t beat down with such a vengeance, burning the roads, the houses, the children in their 50SPF sun cream. The mercury doesn’t relentlessly soar past forty degrees (104F). We don’t have constantly choose between the extortionate expense of running the air conditioner, or lying in bed covered in wet flannels. I start to venture outside again. Walk again. I savor the air around me. I can breathe. I sit at the beach and laugh at the cool breeze that tickles my face. March and April in Western Australia is the feeling you get when you dive into a pool on a stinking hot day. Relief. I love this time of year. I love it.
But, oh, how I hate it too.
Every single time I have been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons it has been during March/April. I have eaten my Easter eggs, alone, in a psychiatric ward multiple times. Nearly all of my severe episodes (depression and manic) have started around this time of year. I don’t know why. I don’t know what I can do to stop it.
So here I am, late March, and I feel that pull of sadness upon me. Smell is so evocative. I smell the changes in the air, and feel the temperature drop and immediately experience flashbacks. Admission to hospital. Pills. Sickness. Doctors. Nurses. IV’s. Catheters. Surgery. Suddenly I’m locked in a bathroom trying to strangle myself. Then I’m being given a bite block for ECT. I’m being held down by staff and injected. I’m crying. I’ve lost it all. I can’t go through this again. Please don’t let me go through it again.
I shy away from the Easter eggs in the shops, as if by merely seeing them I will plunge into darkness once more. Superstitiously, I donate the clothes that I wore around this time last year, and buy new things, as if that is enough to hang on to my mood. I refuse to think about anything upsetting. I throw myself into work, into cooking, into TV shows. Anything to keep the darkness at bay.
But I’m not sleeping.
It’s then I realize that my journey isn’t over. I survived last year. My autoimmune disease is in remission and my bipolar is stable. But it’s never over. There is no cure. I’ve been so confident. So happy. So sure that the hell I have been through is enough. Enough pain. Enough expense. Enough trouble. I never really considered the possibility of it coming back, despite warnings from my medical team.
But here I am. Considering that possibility. I’m so tired of constantly having to fight for what other people seem to achieve quite naturally.
But weary though I am, I pick myself up and breathe in the fragrant air. I feel the wind in my hair. I accept the beauty of this season. Then I go home and take my medication. Put on my pyjamas. Cook something I love. I wrap my arms around my knees and look after myself, a little more than I do normally. I tell myself that I’m ok. That the change in season doesn’t necessitate a change in stability.
I tell myself that this Easter is different. Because of course it is the first in over a decade where I haven’t heard voices. Imagine that? I tell myself that I’m ok. Because I am. Truly.