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 Actually, no I couldn’t. I smelled like I had out-of-date chicken breasts taped to my underarms.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?)


  1. The doctor put me on Paxil and zoloft for PMS and said, 'you won't be able to tell anything for two weeks,' After three days I was ready to blow everyone I met away with a shotgun.

    I love that - stick your nose in a rose bloom. That's a good visual for when we are feeling down. Positivity breeds positivity. As sure as the sun rises. Though it's hard to remember that when it's raining and we can't see the sunrise.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. It's good to know where one has been in life in order to appreciate where we are, but too much navel-gazing isn't good either (just gaze long enough to pick out that lint!). It can make us introspective and self-centred. Better we count our blessings and move ahead.

    Now, if I could just think of a positive response to having this dratted cold! Ah, I suppose I should be thankful it isn't the H1N1 flu. :)

  3. Marley, you're welcome.

    Carol, you totally got the reference to lint. That was EXACTLY what I was hinting at.

  4. When did I last appreciate what I have in my life? Last night, when a friend arrived to talk over her problems.

    Since what seemed a so simple, almost unbelievable, accident a few years ago, her whole life has unravelled. She has done nothing wrong but disasters seem to be queueing up to punch her in the stomach. By the end of the year she and her children will most likely be homeless and penniless. And her lawyer says there is nothing she can do.

    Everything we suggested had already been considered and rejected by her lawyer.

    After she left, I looked round to my husband and two happy, healthy, intelligent children and REALLY appreciated what we have.

    And I've been doing it every minute since because, five minutes before that silly accident, she had the same life as me.

    Sometimes you have to be touched by loss to remind you of what you do have.

    Your evening at the Market Inn sounds very good, sorry I couldn't make it.

    I'm off to think positive thoughts.

  5. what a horrible thing to happen to your friend, Sky B. i hope she finds a way out.

  6. i once lost my wallet in another city and got to the airport with no id and no way to prove who i was. i didn't know what to do. of course, i freaked out, couldn't reach anyone at home. never felt so alone. but the airline people let me on the plane anyway. so i get home, all hot and sweaty. search thru baggage hoping to find my wallet. nothing. called the hotel in atlanta. nothing found. all night long. sheesh. had to go thru bills to get credit card info. anyway, i'm sitting in a chair looking up, praying, and eureka! i remembered that i hid the wallet in the hotel room ice bucket. and so security again checked the room (for the third time), found the wallet and overnighted it to me no charge. so what did i learn from this experience? to ask for help. hope for the best. don't give up. and be appreciative, esp when it's the little people that really come through for you. isn't it amazing how you always find something in the last place you look?

  7. Excellent point, well illustrated. Thanks Thea. How was your recent trip?

  8. my little trip was great. went up to NY, and it was spitting snow. but the fall leaves were magnificent. attended a wedding, caught up with a passle of girlfriends. one crazy thing that happened is when i was on 270 which is a 10 lane highway thru Maryland. It was raining and to my right a motorhome hit a puddle that created a waterfall onto my car. for about 3-4 seconds i literally could not see anything in front or two the side of me. it was like a nonstop bucket of water falling on me. when it cleared i had veered into the lane left of me and a mini van had gone into the ditch passing me (at about 70 miles per hour). so nothing happened but oh, it could have been so ugly. its why i believe in guardian angels.

  9. eeesh, somebody was looking out for you!