In June 2017, I was sitting on the edge of a wooden staircase overlooking a little lake in the woods of Southern Indiana when the idea for Winterbritt first struck me.
I was at my usual lunch spot, a little slice of midwestern paradise just 15 minutes from the fluorescent lights and ringing phones of my office. I was soaking in the sunshine and watching nature happen around me. I felt so light and free, and so okay.
Feeling okay was pretty amazing because from October to April in every previous year, I’d spent most of my time being very not okay.
My usual struggle with depression and anxiety has always been a lot more difficult during the colder months. I usually emerge in the springtime, shaken from the realization that I have no control over my emotions, and a little bit surprised that I survived another winter. I dive into summer with all I have, then brace myself as the next winter rolls around, always too soon.
But this year was different. I’d started a new bedtime routine in March that had changed my world. It had all but banished the tail end of my winter depression and left me excited about the coming summer, and excited about life in general. I was so hopeful I could keep those good vibes going through the next winter, and so afraid that I couldn’t.
I was sitting there, wishing so badly I could grab my future self by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. I wanted so much to tell her, “You’re okay! You don’t know it, but you’re okay! Everything is fine except your mind! It’s tricking you. Just hush!”
Two seconds later I’d grabbed the notepad from my bag and started writing. A reminder to my future self that everything actually was okay if she could just quiet her mind, that suffering is temporary and fixable, and instructions for little tasks to keep the day bright. A message for the winter version of Brittany from the happy girl sitting lakeside.
It was a letter to Winterbritt, from Summerbritt.
I folded the letter in half, and then taped it together. I dated it for November 15, 2017. It was a reality check for my future self. A time capsule depression pep-talk to me from the person who knew me best – me.
It felt so much like hope that I wrote a letter the next day, too. And the day after that.
Along the way, I started the Winterbritt blog to dive deeper into topics that came up in my letters. Each article posted on Winterbritt is an in-depth how-to for that sadder struggling version of myself. Instructions on how to take a deep breath. How to calm down. How to stand back up. Reminders of how good life is, how far I’ve come.
I wrote myself a letter every day for the next four months. I didn’t quit until the leaves had fallen from the trees and it was time to open the first letter I’d written to Winterbritt.
But something curious had happened in the four months that I had spent tolling out kind reassurance, tips, tricks, and instructions to keep Winterbritt from falling off the happiness wagon.
My writing experiment, my Winterbritt Project, had evolved into something deeper. Every day I spent digging around in my mind for ways to convince my future self that she was ok, that life was good, I had found the wisdom that I needed to step out of depression all together.
My daily assault on depression had worked, only I didn’t have to wait until the winter to reap the benefits. November rolled around and I still felt strong and excited and hopeful.
Each day I open a new letter, and I get a little reassurance from Summerbritt that everything’s fine, that even if it isn’t, it actually is. I believe her message wholeheartedly and now I’m helping other people understand that message, too.
Summerbritt healed herself, and now Winterbritt can help heal the world.
What about you?
Does Time Capsule Journaling sound like something that could help relieve your anxiety or depression? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and join the Winterbritt mailing list for weekly updates on the work at Winterbritt.
Thanks for reading,