Four Seasons in One Day

At this time of year there are usually many more cyclists on the roads than at other times of the year.  The nice weather brings out the casual cyclists.  As regular readers of my musings will be aware, I am very much an all-weather cyclist.  And this past month that’s just as well, otherwise my bike would hardly have left the garage.  Those of you reading this in the U.K. will know all to well that June was a month of unseasonal weather, to say the least.

On a recent ride on a familiar route in the Sussex countryside the weather was so changeable that it truly felt like four seasons in one day (see song lyrics below).  Sheltering under some trees by the side of the road with my son, and another rider who had got caught in the same downpour and display of thunder and lightning, my thoughts turned to the world of mood swings that I have inhabited for several years now.

One of the pieces of advice that doctors will give depressed patients who are struggling is to try to continue doing their usual activities.  In the past, when I have been given this guidance it has usually been counter-productive; it has served as a signal that I am becoming unwell, and right on cue, my symptoms re-emerge.  It’s almost as though they are saying ‘continue on regardless’.  When I’m out on my bike and the weather just becomes too much, then the best thing is to take shelter, have a breather and wait it out.  I certainly don’t carry on regardless.  Out in the countryside with my son we got talking to the cyclist who waited with us in shelter while the worst of the storm passed.  I asked him about his lightly bandaged knee.  he told me that he straps his knee when he’s out on his (top of the range racing bike) to stop the discomfort of a couple of bones rubbing together – something treatments have failed to fix.  he told us that as a result of this injury he restricts himself these days to rides of no more than two or three hours.  Here was someone who makes allowances for his body, but still manages to do something he loves – in the words of my doctors – carrying on with his usual activities.

What’s so challenging about living in the trapeze  – artist  – world of mood swings is that the business of carrying on regardless, or making adjustments depending on the circumstances, is so hard to do.  Especially when my moods can vary so much within a single day.

When I’m like that continuing with my usual activities would mean much gnashing of teeth, swearing, or just withdrawing.  that’s what usually happens.  Continuing with my usual activities means doings so amidst some pretty changeable mental weather. Out on the ride I have been referring to we were aware of the weather forecast, and as we left the pub at around lunchtime. We could hear thunder in the distance, like an artillery bombardment.  So, we were reasonably well prepared – mentally – for what was coming our way.  So, what about mental weather-forecasting?

In the world of mental health recovery we call these signs ‘triggers’.  The identifying and management of these causes of relapse occupy the working lives of mental health professionals of whatever stripe, like myself, as well as we sufferers.

It might sound like I’m saying the only way to cope with mood swings is to wait them out, let them pass. There’s something in that, but I also think we can engage with them, acknowledge their presence, and allow them to pass; like waving to fellow cyclists as we pass each other going in opposite directions.  It doesn’t have to divert us from our course.

Four Seasons in One Day

Four seasons in one day
Lying in the depths of your imagination
above and worlds below
The sun shines on the black clouds hanging over the

Even when you’re feeling warm
The temperature could drop
Like four seasons in one day

Smiling as the shit comes
You can tell a man from what he has to say
Everything gets turned
And I will risk my neck again, again

You can take me where you
Up the creek and through the mill
Like all the things you can’t
Four seasons in one day

Blood dries up
Like rain, like
Fills my cup
Like four seasons in one day

It doesn’t pay to
make predictions sleeping on an unmade bed
Finding out wherever there is
comfort there is pain
Only one step away
Like four seasons in one

Blood dries up
Like rain, like rain
Fills my cup
Like four
seasons in one day

Neil Finn (1958 – )

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One Response to Four Seasons in One Day

  1. MagsMcLean says:

    4 seasons in 1 day is normal in the Highlands of Scotland – it was sleeting today, in May, which is normal. I like the philosophy of engage, acknowledge and allowing to pass, not that I’m any good at the engaging part or any of the rest – this is what I aspire to.


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