Mary Poppins: Overcoming the Winter Months

winterWhat I most want to have available to me in the long winter months, to help me with my patients with bipolar and depression, is access to someone a lot like Mary Poppins.

You may remember that Mary, played by Julie Andrews, was the incredibly cheerful nanny who transformed the unhappy and dysfunctional lives of the family she joined.

What I particularly wanted Mary to help me with was getting people up and out of bed in the morning.  This is an absolutely essential thing to prevent mild to moderate depression from becoming severe depression.

The image that sticks in my mind is of her cheerfully drawing open the curtains in the morning and with her charm and good humor, getting a grumpy, tired, and depressed person out of bed and started with the day.

This thought came to me again as I was sitting with a woman who, when she is not depressed is in many ways a lot like Mary Poppins:  very cheerful, energetic, smart and charming. We were talking about how terribly hard it is for her, in the last few weeks, to get out of bed.

Maybe some day, I will actually go out and find people to do this unusual job. (The closest that I can find to someone to fulfill this role in the real world is a cheerful nanny – for those who have children – or a personal trainer – for those who don’t).

A cheerful nanny can be a life saver in a family struggling with the challenges of a new born and (perhaps) the very common post-partum depression. And a cheerful and energetic trainer, who may even stop by to go for a run or do calisthenics, can play a key role in helping a single person with depression begin to pull out of that state.

If either of these kinds of people might make sense to hire for you or your family think about it seriously. Maybe Mary will apply for the job!

[PS, if you are inspired to watch Mary Poppins again, be sure to notice the character of Uncle Albert, the sequence involving his tea party with Mary and the kids is a fun riff on the theme of bipolar moods].

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