Change is difficult, and painful. Even when the change is for the better. Twice now I have met patients who have described their problem as “spring depression”. How can that be, I wonder, gazing out the window at a blue sky and glorious sunshine? One woman I spoke with today told me how she dislikes summer. She was not the first. Expectations associated with better weather and longer days seem to weigh heavily on some people in Sweden.
We have recently moved to a house, with more space and a nicer outlook. This move too has been difficult, although I almost feel guilty saying so. We sometimes find ourselves longing for the flat we left, up in Brickebacken. Less to do, less expectations…
Thousands of people move to Sweden every year, as migrants or refugees. For many it is a move to escape a miserable past. They should be happy here. What country offers more to the migrant than Sweden? If they are lucky enough to arrive in summer it must surely seem like paradise.
Yet when they arrive they are still miserable. They are aliens in a strange land. They don’t understand the culture, the language. Sadly, it is not always summer. Today I met a 51 year old Bosnian woman who is struggling to adjust. We struggled to communicate in what was the second language for us both. After 4 years she still feels like a stranger. She moved because she married a fellow Bosnian who already lived here. Yet despite being here much longer he still speaks little Swedish, and is still very much an outsider.
Dealing with the pain of change is one of the challenges of life, because even for the most settled of us changes come, often unexpected and uninvited. There is a tendency to always look back, to remember how good things used to be. But it is impossible to go back to the way things were. Perhaps that is what makes the past so glorious – the impossibility of going there. The challenge is to live in the here and now and see the possibilities and hope of the future.
Spring is beautiful. Quite simply. The depression people feel now must surely be the struggle of change, not something intrinsically negative with sunshine, blue skies and flowers. And none of us immune from change.