Autumn’s Heart

Living in Northern Illinois,  Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year. The colors are so vivid and there is symphony of sights and smells that fill the air. The bright, full trees changing from a seasonal adolescence to a colorful vivid adulthood. The sounds of laughter with in the neighborhoods of children riding bikes and making sure to soak up every last day of warmth before the snow flies. And oh how I  love the smell of a bonfire! (mainly because I know that s’mores are their lovers of the fire)

Amid all this beauty, there is also a sad decline. The beautiful leaves tumble one by one to the ground. Leaving a seemingly-never-ending-struggle to clean up the yard. The chill in the air snaps us into a battle of wills with turning on the furnace. (I refuse to turn ours on yet) And it’s in this love/hate melodrama that I begin to realize it’s the same battle I have within my own brain.

Not necessarily seasonal depression, but seasons of depression.

That’s the frenzy of mania; delight in the green growth of summertime meeting an abrupt aberration of a pile of fallen leaves. My heart will go from full and lush flowers, beautiful and fragrant to all passersby; to hiding the thorns under the petals. I can pick a bouquet of “happy and wanderlust” and actually enjoy the vase for quite a while. Other times, it may be like a bunch of roses purchased from the gas station; elegant for a moment and the next day all the heads have drooped.

I stood at my kitchen window, no more than a week ago, reveling in the beauty of a young tree in our yard; how much it’s grown, how beautiful the colors are this season. And it seems as though overnight, the majority of the leaves have fallen in a perfect formation around the tree. It’s almost as if the leaves are sitting in awe of where they once were. Looking up at the branches that once held them sturdy, wondering what happened. It too seems as if my mind has experienced the same mystery. One moment I was reveling in the joy and beauty in my life, to the feeling as if I’ve been carried away on a breeze into an unfamiliar place. The paradox of this is the fact that this place is all too familiar. I know the autumn of mania; I know the battlefield of the mind as if it were an old friend. Except this old chum has betrayed you and stolen joy from you, right in front of your face. This bastard haunts you with an eerie obsessive thought that repeats like a bad song stuck in your mind.

I know that these seasons pass and with it comes the chores of attending to the mess. In the Springtime we are charged up to open the windows and sing like Julie Andrews on a mountain top and clean like a highly caffeinated Cinderella. This is like the upside of mania. A charged up and endless vibration of the senses in which you’re pretty certain you’re actually humming. The Autumn clean up is a little different, it’s a preparation for another season. The falling leaves of a previous season must be dealt with before a blizzard of emotion spins you out of control. The choice is personal, some people can just mulch the shit out of the mess and scatter it all around. Some people choose to rake it neatly into one place and discard of it. The removal varies from person to person; while some bag it up and have someone else haul it off, other’s light that pile on fire.

I am in full awareness that this is a season. With this revelation, I’m choosing to hire a landscaper. To seek the help of a professional, I will address the mess and chaos and ask for help in the clean-up. I won’t sit idly by and expect it to be hauled away on my behalf. No, I think I will allow the friends and lovers of my soul to come and gather-round and dance amidst the beauty of colors that have faded, dreams that seem to have fallen and raise a glass to another season. When in my heart, I’d really rather just look at the mess from the comfort and safety of my house.

Knowing that this too shall pass, as all seasons do. I will rejoice in the handiwork of God’s paintbrush and give thanks for the people He has placed (and removed) from my life. He inspires me with His Grace and is the faithful arm around my shoulder that gives me comfort. I also know {this will rattle some cages} that He is also the hand that walks me to the pharmacy and says “Daughter, don’t be ashamed.”

Seeking help is not a surrender, it is the strength and hope and wantonness of a day in the presence of peace.

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