People seem to understand feeling blue in the winter time. Lack of sunshine, low temperatures, long days stuck inside…kind of sounds like Florida summers! When it is really hot out, and thunderstorms block the sun’s light, entire populations are stuck inside where freezing air conditioners blast us silly. This is why certain Floridians wear sweaters in the summertime.
For people who suffer from mental illness, summertime can be just as emotionally difficult as the winter. Just as the winter holidays create social pressure to be “merry and bright,” summertime carries its own social pressures of non-stop fun and adventurous vacations. But what if you or someone you love is non-stop sleeping from serious depression? Or what if you or someone you love is on a mania-induced adventure spending spree?
Perhaps as a society we’ve started to say a little bit more in public about mental illness during the winter months, giving people permission to feel a light shade of blue. Some churches host special “Blue Christmas” or “Longest Night” services where prayers reflect a sensitivity that not all is calm and bright. There, in sacred shadows of worship, people find a safe place to lament and mourn the loss of joy. But it’s harder to find such comfort in the dog days of summer.
The truth is, people with mental health diseases suffer year round; mental illness does not go on exotic summer vacations. So here is a little shout out to everybody who is struggling this summer either because you or someone you love is having a really rough summer. You are not alone. Take a minute and find a support group
For the most part, I am a fan of summers in Florida. There’s nothing quite like the smell after a thunderstorm or the carefree laughter of kids playing outside. I’m grateful for small reminders in my day, like clearing skies and lilting laughs, that ground me in the deep goodness of life.