Pushing up the daisies

I found this lovely spring poem by Robert McCracken on Amanda’s blog. Amanda describes herself as a domestic goddess in training. (My female side wants to chip in: Aren’t we all, darling?)

Today is the day when bold kites fly,
When cumulus clouds roar across the sky.
When robins return, when children cheer,
When light rain beckons spring to appear.

Today is the day when daffodils bloom,
Which children pick to fill the room,
Today is the day when grasses green,
When leaves burst forth for spring to be seen.

My new neighbours (the ones whose car I accidentally nudged with the gate when I arrived last week) went to see the wild flowers on the West Coast this past weekend. Which led me of course to turn to my trusty friend Flickr. Here’s one from Drum Africa Safaris.

wild flowers

Amanda asks what spring means to us. (Er, P, should I be writing Spring or spring?) Well, I’m a great fan of life, love, sunshine and flowers (who isn’t?) But one association which probably says a lot about me is that my first ever blog-post (over at the old Blogmark), written on the 1st of September 2005, was about suicide. I was feeling glum after I had just missed out on getting into Clinical Psychology Masters and I was also intrigued by a story I read that said that depressed people are more likely to end their own lives in spring rather than in winter. There’s part of me that quite admires the paradox of this. Apparently the rush of energy that spring brings can cause those suffering from depression to take the plunge (if you’ll forgive that expression). (I wanted to add that it might tip them over the edge but well I just added that anyway, didn’t I? Damn impulse control …) Not the happiest thought right at the beginning of spring but the phenomenon of “spring suicides” should make families and friends (and therapists) perhaps a little more aware (and sensitive).

One thing I also realised about spring (and which is common news to more scientifically-literate people) is that the days quickly become a lot lighter. In winter and summer the sun will rise fractionally earlier or later each day (depending on which side of the equinox you are) but in spring and autumn this rapidly changes. The effect on our moods can be quite dramatic (cf. SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder) and makes for an interesting change in the therapy room as well. Some patients will decide to go off their medication so that they can lose weight for summer while others will sink deeper into their pits of despair. The signs of life all around them are more confirmation that they, in contrast to everyone else, have that big L on their foreheads for the world to see.

So here’s wishing you Happy Spring to those in the southern hemisphere and Happy Fall to those up north!

Update: P says I should opt for lower case. This post also makes me think I should post on Gallows Humour and whether we should even be laughing at suicide. My instinct is that we can laugh at it (if this comes from a place of respect and empathy) but that this laughter could easily be misconstrued as disrespect. It’s so hard to know whether people are laughing with you or at you.


8 Responses to Pushing up the daisies

  1. Happy spring! I just bought my first pumpkin today, so it is clearly autumn here.

  2. natalian says:

    I enjoyed reading the concept of “spring suicides”. I find myself feeling a little blue just walking past the magazine stands! Happy smiley people with perfect tans and muscle tones all depicted on the front covers with captions like “10 Ways To Your Perfect Summer Body” and “Spring Clean Your Life”. Thankfully I am a little more evolved and have accepted a pasty white skin tone as opposed to skin cancer and realise that “Spring Cleaning” is about as fruitless as New Years Resolutions! Congrats on the move!

  3. Bee says:

    How odd it is to have the seasons reversed. Today feels properly autumnal . . . with wind and rain and gray skies. Not that I’m feeling depressed or anything.

  4. tobeme says:

    Happy spring and all the newness that is brings! Thanks for sharing the beautiful poem.

  5. doctordi says:

    A very cheery poem – I wasn’t expecting the segue into suicide! I didn’t know that about spring suicides – always at my lowest (which mercifully still isn’t usually very low) during winter, I imagined miserable weather probably made for miserable people… but I can see the logic. Sort of. Personally, I love every season that’s not a hideous winter. This has been such an awesome winter here in Sydney I am just not complaining at all about anything ever again.

  6. sandy,phd says:

    As an inhabitant of the northern hemisphere, it is sooo strange to consider september the month of spring. Random thought. Happy Spring to all of you september-springers. Me? We’ve had a very hot summer here in Texas, any day now the all time record will be broken, so September, while still hot, is the first step toward future cool days. Bring it on!

    Re: the increase in suicides in spring. Another theory is that the inner depression is so discordant with the outer lightness of spring, and the happiness of those who are out enjoying the weather, that depressed individuals feel more compelled to escape their pain and alienation.

  7. litlove says:

    Well a happy spring to you…. I think. I know that when you feel blue, a really gorgeous day can seem an insult, like the world is ignoring your pain. So maybe that has something to do with it, but it’s probably just down to the rapid increase/decrease in light. My son has always been very light sensitive, and there’s a part of autumn that is all about the dying of the light which I find almost intolerable. Hmm, lots to think about as ever, Pete!

  8. David says:

    Interesting. I used to run a depression support group in which one of the other members and I had what we used to think of as “reverse-SAD” in which we felt much worse in spring and summer. Neither of us likes heat or light particularly, and both of us have Scandinavian grandparents, so perhaps there’s some deeply-ingrained tolerance for unfriendly climatic conditions. We also shared a great deal of childhood emotional trauma over not being athletically talented, which may also have a great deal to do with it … even now, at the age of 37, a sunny day fills me with terror that someone is going to put me on a team and make me do something with a ball that I don’t really understand, and which I know I won’t be good at. I much prefer the privacy of my treadmill, in my dark garage, on a rainy day when it’s too cold to go outside.

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