Friday, 16 October 2009
Jump For Joy
Last night in the Market Inn...great stuff. An appreciative audience and some cracking poetry. Rab Wilson was in fine form, as was the divine Miss T (Sheila) or Tequila Shempleton as she is now known. Don’t ask. Ok, do. It’s her Bond villainess name.
There was also a Storyteller there called Colin McAllister. I could have listened to Colin all night. A soft Irish accent, a mind full of stories and a gentle but effective delivery. His stories were of the past and the present and reminded me that there is an art to delivering an anecdote.
The evening, as I mentioned earlier was part of the Mental Health Awareness Film Festival. When I first heard of this I kinda had the chills. No-one wants unremitting gloom and tales of woe, no matter how empathic they are. See me? Dead good at empathy. Not so good at gloom. So, it was a pleasure to hear that the main point of all this was to help people focus on the way out of the mire of poor mental health. Shoving your nose deep into a rose bloom. That kind of thing. Focusing on what makes good mental health. I can do that.
There’s a fascinating book by Martin Seligman called "Authentic Happiness" I would commend to you. His main thrust (imho) is that all the years of psychotherapy hasn’t moved us on that much. His contention is that concentrating on this form of approach means we examine what makes a mind sick. Focusing on the negative, see? Did someone not say that to continue doing the same thing while expecting different results was the definition of insanity? Time for a change, methinks. Seligman's argument is that we should look at what makes us truly happy and turn our minds to that.
Made me think about the time I had a skirmish with this kind of illness. I won’t go into the root cause of it. Basically, shit happens. The doc put me on Prozac. Horrible, horrible stuff. I could almost deal with the body odour. Actually, no I couldn’t. I smelled like I had out-of-date chicken breasts taped to my underarms. Then there were the dreams. WTF was that all about? People getting shot and stabbed in front of me. Graphic violence every time I closed my eyes. I woke up every morning with the worry that if someone put a knife in my hand I’d find a chest to stick it in. Not nice.
Then there was the stomach ache. The doc had to give me pills to counteract the pills. (And that is the one thing about modern medicine that worries me. Side effects. We put all this shite in our systems that cause other shite to happen. Is it just to distract us from our main area of concern? While we have a medical system that relies on drugs to mask and treat symptoms, rather than the cause of the condition I doubt we’re ever going to have truly effective medical care. Anywho, what do I know?)
I lasted 3 weeks on the hateful drug.
Turned instead to 5 visits to the gym per week, a diet low in additives, sugar and wheat, regular meditation, hours of Billy Connolly. Healthy body...and where the body goes the mind soon follows. Or is that too simple? In any case it worked for me. Folks who've have to stay on the bad stuff have my sympathy.
Today, following said MHA event, I’m full of appreciation. When did you last appreciate what you had in your life? Someone once advised that you should imagine that you have lost everything...and then gained it back. How good would you feel?
The sun is shining. The wee fella is trouping about his bedroom, making all those wee contented noises he makes. There’s food in the fridge. I have a pile of unread books. And lint in my belly-button. This is me smiling and thinking...happy days.
(As a footnote to that last paragraph you have no idea how difficult it was to stop myself from listing the things I feel are missing from my life...but that would have defeated the purpose, no?)