Dreicht and Hygge.

Wednesday April 4, 2018

Oh, it was drear outside, this Easter.

It was that sort of grey where the grey sky meets the grey sea and the grey sea merges imperceptibly with the grey shore. Grey birds hunched in morose huddles and even the dogs on the beach trudged, heads down, into the drenched wind, followed by their dour, miserably determined, owners.

Inside, we turned our faces away from the cold North Sea. We had our friend Richard to stay for Easter, together with his girlfriend. They are always ideal guests: helpful, requiring no entertainment, and fitting seamlessly into our family. In the brightness of our living room and the warmth of the wood-burning stove, there was affection and harmony as we all did a jigsaw puzzle together, drinking hot tea and nibbling on Easter chocolate.

Dreicht, the Scots term that kind of weather. Hygge, the Danes call the cosiness of our jigsaw warmth.

But there have been many times when it's been the other way around for me, and probably for you too. Times when the outside was all sunshine, yet the bleak clouds inside cut out all light and warmth. Times when those around me radiated happiness and good fellowship, but all I could feel was the dricht of dreary isolation. Times when, curled warm and snug in my bed, the frozen rain of doubts and desolation swept in, borne on the bitter east wind of self-loathing.

There are days when hygge is impossible; months on end, sometimes.

I think one thing this illness of depression teaches us, is to relish and to value the good times. We know we can never take that warmth of human communication and connection for granted. We know the dreicht may reclaim us at any time.

But the seasons change. Warmth and light return with the turning of the year. True, there are rainy days in summer – and some summers are wetter than others. There are fine clear days in winter, where the blue sky is fragile as a thrush's egg; more precious for its transitory promise. But it is generally safe to say that there is more sunshine and certainly more warmth in summer.

The seasons change for us too.

In the darkness of my January I could see no light and no warmth. Even though my brain told me that I would recover from this bout of misery and laugh again, all I could see was the next inevitable dark winter beyond the interlude of sunshine. Dark times are dricht and cold indeed, and hard to endure.

But the seasons do change. Spring comes and then summer. They may not come with the "correct" months – my Australian friends are heading into autumn now - and they may not follow the timeline of a year; but sunshine does return, the warmth of human communication does again seep into our hearts and bones.

Yes, the dreicht may return. It probably will.

So, I'll appreciate the hygge, when it's here.

A Moodscope member.

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