Lockdown in the Mouth

As we find ourselves in the midst of a second national shut-in, spare a thought for those for whom the winter months would be a challenge in ordinary circumstances, writes Jonathan Hart

by Jonathan Hart | 20 November 2020


Illustration by Keturah Bate

To paraphrase Robert Frost, while I have taken the road less travelled, the jury is out on whether that has made all the difference. I accepted from a fairly young age that my brain is wired differently to those of my peers. I am in no way trying to insinuate that this difference makes me superior to anybody else; on almost any occasion you are far more likely to hear me argue for the prosecution. I have merely come to terms with it. The result of this acceptance was that, with the onset of the mental health struggles in early teenhood to which I have remained a reluctant companion, I felt no more alienated from others than I had previously. While attitudes towards depression, anxiety and other conditions have grown increasingly tolerant even within the three decades of my life to date, and my own personality has transmuted in ways that I am variously pleased with and repelled by, I can’t say my perception of how I am viewed by others has altered. ​

The onset of winter, where the pastel pinks and azures of sunrise fade to shale-greys and off-whites, shadows elongate, and daylight hours recede, can often precipitate the exacerbation of existing mental health issues, or provoke the onset or resurgence of periodic afflictions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Not for me, though; that period of time just after the clocks change, where winter’s icy chill has yet to render the trees skeletal remnants of their verdant summer forms, is one of my favourite times of the year. It’s the time of year that I feel most like myself, or at least a version of mysel