Inspired by spring, a member of Orri’s community shares a blog on the changing of seasons and the symbolism for eating disorder recovery.
She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head: And whispered to her neighbour “winter is dead.” A.A. Milne
The first crocuses of the year in my garden are often purple. Recently, I went to see thousands in bloom at a garden near to me- like a purple sea. Nature really knows how to put on a show.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple (‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph). This poem always reminds me of my aunt. She always had the most colourful clothes and I imagined her to be this woman when she was old. She never made it to be old. But she always worse her ‘purple’ with patchwork trousers and patterned velvet coats, cupboards full of scarves, orange curly hair and pillar box red lipstick. I still have her green Doc Martin boot on my windowsill. I grew a plant in it. It felt right that it should still contain life.
Winter for me was last March- not physically speaking but inside. All was being taken away, or so it felt. I was desperate to disappear like the autumn leaves that fall from the trees and slowly get swallowed by the soil. I wasn’t sure there was a ‘me’ to move forward for.
In the depths of winter, the notion of spring feels ridiculous. You can never imagine feeling warm again, when the dark and cold are all consuming. And in my ‘winter’ I felt the same. I longed for it to stop but never thought it would end with spring, only death. My brain couldn’t find a way out of the eternal winter of my mind.
But then I saw her face. Before she passed away. She had no choice but to fade with a body that was broken. She fought for so long. And in her face, I saw afresh the possibility of life. Life was being taken from her and I was no longer so ready to surrender mine without such a fight.
The beauty of spring is on hold for long enough and it comes round again. Slowly, where the flower died last autumn and released its seed, a new plant begins to awaken into life as it is slowly warmed by the soil’s heat, given by the sun. Spring creeps slowly back again.
It’s unbelievable at first. You wipe your eyes and are overjoyed at the first signs of bulbs peeking through the earth. You feel the warmth of a bright day on your face and hope begins to flow.
But spring is slow. It takes its time. It is not in a rush. There will still be days where the sun doesn’t shine. Where spring seems still distant, only visible in patches against grey and leaden skies.
Bit by bit, day by day, spring makes its way. Each day, each week, each bulb that blooms, spring’s domination over winter is confirmed.
In my inner world spring is still creeping in. But there are signs of life and hope. I know I will win.
When I floundered, stating that the life I was returning to was blue when all I longed for was yellow my CPN said to me; “Find your yellow and add as much as you can to the blue. It may never be pure yellow, but the green will still be more of you.”
So today I choose to turn towards the sunlight and shake my yellow head and I will keep making that choice until I can whisper to myself that winter is dead.
- Winter can and does end. Your brain can heal – with the right support – find help
- Willing winter to be over doesn’t make it stop. Willpower alone is not what recovery is about. You have not failed in healing yourself. You are unwell. I was so angry at my brain for what it was doing but had no idea how to get it to stop. The angrier I was at it, the more it fought back
- A multitude of plants and animals working hard, fuelled by the movement of the earth around the sun makes spring possible. Recovery is a beautiful and painful mix of many individual components that work together to make it possible (Orri’s website is a great place to explore what the recovery process could look like for you)
- Spring does not come overnight. Recovery doesn’t happen quickly. But delight in each win as you would a flower that blooms. Each one alone is a beautiful thing- many makes a garden shine – over time
SO, I encourage you- to turn towards the sunlight. One day, I know you will be able to shout that “winter is dead.”