Mental Health Wisdom from Winnie The Pooh

9 Jul 2015


Now this may seem like an odd title for a blog post, but bear with me (no pun intended, I promise).

Despite it being nearly two decades since I’ve actually read a Winnie the Pooh book (something I need to rectify), I’ve often found unexpected inspiration and affirmation from stumbling upon quotes from the A.A Milne books when browsing online. I also find that a lot of the quotes can be great reference points for those who struggle with mental illness, but of course are not restricted to that demographic; they relate to the human experience in general. 

Here are five of my favourite quotes from the Winnie the Pooh books, along with what they mean to me:



'"I don't feel very much like Pooh today", said Pooh. "There there", said Piglet. "I'll bring you tea and honey until you do."'

This exchange between Pooh and Piglet demonstrates that everyone can go through a period of not feeling quite right - whether it be because of a bad day or even a bout of depression. But it also reminds us that it’s okay to sometimes feel that way, and that it can be remedied. It’s scary to wake up and suddenly not feel like yourself anymore, but by knowing that even Pooh has felt this way you can be sure that you are not alone with it. Importantly, it also highlights the fact that it’s as necessary to be looked after when feeling mentally unwell as it is when one is physically ill.
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To me the quote also suggests that simple home comforts can often ground us and let us feel like ‘us’ again. Have you ever spent a day or evening somewhere, or found yourself doing something, that has left you with that niggling feeling of ‘this isn’t right for me’? And then maybe you've come home, still with that feeling of deflation, to then find your family waiting to greet you warmly - or to find you have a message from an old friend wanting to catch up? And then, just like that, you suddenly remember who you are again and those bleak feelings disappear? Well, this quote makes me think of that. It's a reminder that it’s okay to be with the people and surroundings that we’re most comfortable with and that reflect our true nature, away from the pressure of feeling the need to be people we are not. It highlights the importance of good friends and family and wherever it is that we call home.  



'By the time it came to the edge of the Forest, the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river, and, being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly. For it knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, "There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.'

I often struggle with high stress and anxiety, and usually when it’s very unnecessary. I write down every passing thought in my planner in case I forget small part of my daily routine, I have a constant nagging in the back of my head if I haven’t responded to someone’s message immediately, and I walk too fast even when I have no where I need to be. But this quote comforts me with the knowledge that with age comes a retrospective realisation. A realisation that all those times you’ve replied to an email the next day - or forgotten to buy milk on the way home, or were five minutes late for a lecture - ultimately none of that ended up mattering. Because everything turned out okay in the end. And that there will also come an acceptance and understanding that, by living your life in a slower pace and with lower urgency, things will be okay too. 

That's my personal take, but more simply the quote also suggests that the buoyancy of childhood is replaced with a more structured temperament and lifestyle when one reaches adulthood. Not because of any loss, but due to the wisdom and understanding gained along the journey.



'"What day is it,?” asked Pooh. “It's today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favorite day,” said Pooh.”'

This quote helped me a lot when I experienced a bout of existential depression a few years ago. As a result of this - as extreme as it may seem – I spent a lot of time getting severely anxious and down at the prospects of dying, getting old, and simply about bad things that could potentially happen in the future. But this very simple exchange is a reminder to appreciate what we currently have, and to live in the moment. Pooh's favourite day is today, because it’s the only one that is actually happening! Whenever I read this I adopt Pooh’s innocent approach to life, which holds no anxiety or apprehension about the future. And he is right to think in such a way. After all, the future hasn’t happened yet; the present is the only thing that exists. And the ideal frame of mind is to actually live in the present, instead of constantly and anxiously trying to leap ahead.



'You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.'

Sometimes we isolate ourselves without even realising it, and this quote exemplifies that. Before you label yourself as being lonely and claim defeat, always first make sure you’re doing things to actually combat that loneliness. I’ve often found myself upset about specific people not contacting me, or sometimes even feeling that no one at all is making the effort to reach out to me. But I’m also the type of person who refuses to contact people first. See the problem here? Someone has to make the first move. And it’s very likely that the people you want to connect with are thinking the same about you not contacting them, or will at least be happy to connect once you give them the nudge by reaching out first. Friendships and relationships can’t start or be maintained unless someone is willing to be the one to make the first move. 

And whether or not you yourself are feeling isolated, it’s likely that some other people you know are feeling that way. So if you don't already, then why not try reaching out to people you wouldn’t normally think of reaching out to, or to someone who you think could need a friend? The result will likely be rewarding for both parties.



'"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."'

I’m not sure if this is a common belief in others, but I've never been able to consider myself brave. In fact, I often think to myself worriedly; ‘I’d probably be a Hufflepuff, 'cause I sure as anything couldn’t be a Gryffindor’. But despite these thoughts, many people I've known have called me ‘brave’, due to the fact that I’ve faced a lot of struggles. And though I always shrug off being labelled as such, the truth of the matter is that we all are brave. It's only that one normally doesn't realise how brave they are until faced with a difficult situation, in which being brave is the only option. Everyone one of us has that in us. This is also true when it comes to strength, as the two go hand in hand. The quote also highlights that no matter what we look like on the outside – whether it be physically small, clinically depressed or physically ill - it's no representation of the vast inner strength we encompass. In fact, the weaker one may seem on the outside, the more strength is likely being put to use on the inside, due to them having to fight that much harder.

And this can also be said for being smart or funny or any other positive trait. Because at the end of the day, as humans, it’s almost impossible for us to see ourselves as we really are. And the majority of us will unfortunately play down our positive attributes due to insecurities. This quote tells us that the people who see us for how we really are, they are the ones who will think the highest of us. 



Let me know in the comments if there are any quotes from unlikely sources that mean something to you.

Amani x

25 comments

  1. Okay. First, I've been struggling with depression for what feels like forever. This post made me cry, especially the last quote. I mean, I know that if I wasn't strong, I wouldn't be there anymore, just wouldn't. I always thought I was a coward because I didn't actually manage to commit a suicide but now I know it's my strength. I am still getting to a point where I am happy and I don't hate myself every second of my life but it's better. This is a beautiful post, thank you. I feel like I'm gonna like your blog. xx

    take a look at my blog if you want to (itslecafenoir.blogspot.com)

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    1. So sorry to hear about your struggles. I'm glad you could find this post valuable though. You definitely *are* strong, having to deal with depression to the point of feeling suicidal is more than anyone should have to go through, and shows you have massive strength just by having to deal with that. I have another a post specifically about strength and mental illness if you look at my mental illness tag, and definitely be doing more posts on mental health in the near future.

      Really hope you continue to feel better, but it sounds like you're making good progress :) xx

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    2. Whenever I have some time, I'll check your blog more thoroughly because I do like your posts.You seem to be a great, wise person. :)

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  2. I love this so much! It's so great when you find wisdom in places of innocence like this. And it's always so raw and simple. Feels easy.

    Disney stories have some great ones, too.

    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

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    1. Thanks! Disney sounds like a good shout too :) I actually haven't re-watched any of my childhood Disney favourites as an adult, I think I need to do that! x

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  3. Winnie the Pooh is such a brilliant series and there are some beautiful life lessons to learn. I always related to Eeyore as a kid - he was always blue and depressed. Now I relate to Pooh - relatively happy, but has some days that aren't as good as others.

    Erin | Being Erin

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    1. I think Pooh's a great character to relate to, though I also remember relating to Eeyore when I was younger! x

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  4. OMG I love this!!! I actually have a Winnie the Pooh picture and quote on my wall for this very reason! What a great way to describe mental health and to help you through. So great and I feel so much better after reading this! Thank you xx

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    1. Really glad you enjoyed this post :) Having a Winnie the Pooh picture/quote on your wall is a really nice idea :) xx

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  5. This is such an amazing post, and a great way to describe mental health - especially for people who don't understand and don't take it seriously xx

    Lou - Louleecutie.blogspot.co.uk

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  6. This is a really lovely post, I've always enjoyed Winnie the Pooh quotes and think they are great in relation to mental health :) I can really relate to where you talk about anxiety to do with the future and dying.. I will have to get that quote printed out for my wall I think!
    Irma xo

    myfriendirmajane

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  7. Thank you :) Sorry you have similar issues but I think printing the quote out is a great idea, it's so helpful! xx

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  8. This is bloody amazing Amani! So so much love for this! I love Disney movies there is so much meaning and lessons behind all of them that we can all learn from time and time again. I love the last quote the most we have so much bravery and strength but are blinded by our own disbelief in ourselves that we don't see it but we do all have it! <3

    http://rainbow-roseblossom.blogspot.co.nz/

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  9. Actually nice story it is. Thanking you so much remembering my childhood days. Regards: Winnie the Pooh Quotes

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  10. This is a splendid post! Quietly brave (which Hufflepuffs are, btw) and flowing with deep thoughts like a mature river.

    Thank you. :)

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  11. This is a great post. I love how things aimed at children can be so beneficial for adults too. I'm also partial to a bit of Disney. In the years following my marriage breakdown I've had to readjust my vision of what a family should look like so I always remember the line from Lilo and Stitch - "My family may be small...and broken...but it's still good. Yes, still good."

    Thanks for getting us thinking.

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    1. Thank you :) It's great that Disney was able to help you in that way!

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  12. Your post is lovely! I'm a big fan of Winnie the Pooh and now he seems very philosophical to me. You should give Dr. Seuss a look. He's got great words as well.

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    1. Thanks, I'm glad you liked the post! And I will do, sounds like as good idea!

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  13. The last two are my favorite...the one in the Forest particularly for my daughter who struggles socially (as I used to do as well). Thank you for sharing these :) Visiting over from the Teachaholic Blog party...

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    1. No worries, thanks for your comment :)

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