by PATRICIA MILLER
Well for most of the east coast this spring still feels like winter.
Traditionally, spring is the season of new beginnings and fresh new adventures. We are ready to break free from the winter isolation and spread our proverbial wings.
When I was young it was always my favorite time of the year. Easter and family. Travel and spring break off from school.
As an adult, I have suffered some painful experiences that I’m reminded of each spring. It’s hard to have a positive outlook when this time is clouded by those memories and thanks to Facebook I’m reminded of them each day.
This year, I sat at a school play and looked at my teenagers, who were laughing and enjoying their innocent young adulthood and I began to reflect on how quickly things change. As any parent knows, life passes by in the blink of an eye.
I watched as this beautiful young talented girl on stage sang her heart out as Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” All I could think of was the bright and exciting future this young lady has in front of her.
Just days later I was in the arena at Mohegan Sun watching a young 21-year-old Lorde sing in front of thousands of people in a foreign land.
Surely, that young 15 year old back in Bristol had the same potential.
For them, life was an exciting and amazing journey that has just begun.
I was a mother watching the smiles on my teenagers’ faces and it made me feel content.
For a very long time I was stuck in what feels like that neverending search for life’s meaning. What is it all for? Why do we try so hard? Travel so far and work so hard?
In an instant, I felt the answer as it came across my daughter’s smiling face while we thumb wrestled during intermission. Like the spring breeze, I felt on my own face as a child when mom would finally open the windows and welcome in the fresh spring air, I felt the contentment of being right where I was meant to be.
Mental health is something everyone has. I fear it’s becoming a modern day buzz word. I never really understood why people will brush their teeth everyday, or go to the gym to work their buttocks muscles, but with just one mention of mental health and those same people will jump ship.
I don’t get it.
As I have mentioned before, I have been met with a lot of loss in my life. In fact when I tell people the things I’ve seen at 43 they can hardly believe it. They’re just one of those experiences would have “broken” many people. My mother was someone who had also been through a lot in her life— from abuse to poverty to miscarriages and the death of her husband , her daughter, and both parents.
She was old school. She didn’t believe in “mental health.” She was a stubborn Irish immigrant who believed you pull up your big girl panties and you carry on, because you can’t be soft. You can’t be weak. And in the end of her life, she was tough till the very last day.
As I sit looking at my children, I realize I want my mental health to be more about the people I love knowing what strong truly is. My mother was strong— I won’t argue that— but she suffered. Alone she cried and alone she was sad. I know this because I am just like her.
I am not sad on a daily basis anymore.
After losing my mother to cancer, it took a little bit until I could feel that cool breeze on my face, or smile when my children smiled, and feel the love my husband supplied me with. Sadness has a way of stealing those things from you.
Being strong is asking for the help you need.
Sometimes the winter blues makes our sadness resurface and we look for the escape of a warm place to visit. It’s a very real thing, winter depression.
I look forward to warmer days and the birth of my brothers first baby in May. I look forward to feeling the sun on my face and warmth of that tiny baby in my arms. There’s no better medicine in my opinion.
Patricia Miller is a weight loss surgery patient advocate and volunteer.