Summer is typically the season of joy and jubilation, as colours burst forth and sunshine warms the soul. It is a time for enjoying the environment and each other, and many pin their hopes on a two-week hiatus from work during the warmer months.
For me, recently, summer has brought me my most challenging seasons. I was diagnosed with postnatal and post adoption depression during July, first in 2013 and then again in 2017, and it is with a heavy heart that I glance over posts from that season on TimeHop. As I gaze at my image in the photographs, I see a hurting, confused woman, head torn, heart broken, soul wretched, trying to create memories but merely clutching at straws. She smiles, but the smile is hollow, much like the tree she is drawn to over and over again in a local park. As her fingers lightly brush over the dead bark, loosening small pieces, she wishes her own inner turmoil would break off just as easily.
Nature was a huge help to me when I was recovering from my mental health. Being outdoors felt like an escape from my empty, uncertain reality. I could surround myself with beauty, inhale the heady fragrance of tree blossom and allow my mind to wander as I walked through the long grass.
As the pressures of a perfect summer slipped away, I then fell in love with Fall. The colours of the falling leaves, the crunch beneath my feet, the cosiness of scarves to protect me from the elements.
I walked and ran a great deal while I was navigating my mental health, and as the seasons changed so too did I. Nature seemed to echo my experiences as the colours changed and the leaves descended. Mostly, I resonated with the loss. The trees were losing something so very beautiful, yet they let it go so freely. I sympathised with them. I too felt like I was losing something; the hopes and dreams of the early months with my new babies. Like the leaves beneath my feet, the moments I had curated in my mind now lay crumpled and crushed as the reality of maternal mental health took hold. But in the acknowledgement of loss, I felt peace and acceptance. Not only was I letting go of my romantic ideals, I was also letting go of the pressure to be, to act and to feel a certain way.
Winter is typically a time for rest, and after wrestling into Autumn, this season felt so welcome. As the branches became bare, my soul was laid bare, seemingly empty of everything. At times I felt like I was just going through the motions of life and wondering what was next. But I now see that the rest was necessary, because you cannot build a strong canopy on broken branches. As nature rested, so did my soul, and when the warm spring sun peeked through the clouds and the first crocuses peeped from the soil, I was ready. My fallow season enabled me to spring forward, to see buds begin to bloom, to enjoy my babies and find myself all over again.