Posts by Will-O-The-Wisp

I Know. Really. Know. Nothing.

Parking Skills

So, one of the coping mechanisms that seems to have evolved itself is to do nothing.

The crazed chaos that is in the head …

So you start walking down a nice straight path in a little wood. Trees are all lined up regularly. Regular sizes too. You can see some distance through them. It’s bright. Almost sunny.

And then the path curves and veers off into the undergrowth. Which comes up from nowhere to surround you. You look up and the light has changed.

It’s not dark. But it feels dark.

And you find yourself running. Into tree after broken tree.

And you only run faster from the last gnarled branch that scraped across the back of your neck.

An inky blackness opens up amidst the trees. You’re only too happy to plunge headlong …

Wait. Poetic license be damned, this is what it feels like. Worse. Much worse.

That’s what I do. Wait. For 5 minutes. I have had to learn to.

I pause to catch my breath. There are days when I cannot. Not the first time in any case.

into a cul-de-sac. Backing off in terror, suddenly claustrophobic. Breathing stutters.

I absolutely stop doing anything and everything. Have to go find my corner. I do. If I have to excuse myself from company, I do. If I have to avert my eyes while doing so, I do.

I smoke.

And watch the smoke.

Till my breathing stabilizes.

It’s a little brighter. Not much. In fact, very little. But it’s a little clearer. You start walking.

I start thinking. Mostly strange and weird extremes. I tell myself that it’s okay.  Entertaining them is not always the same as hosting them.

So I let them do their thing. But, I do nothing. Most times. And do so well enough.

They deflate. Invariably. Years of evidence?

It’s much brighter now. You spy a curiously pretty path leading back to the straight…

Find something.

Anything that takes all my attention and and emotion. And thought. I lose myself.

So, the idea is to be able to park responding – in any manner whatsoever, no matter what it takes – to these brutal impulses. For a very short period of time. It helps me to focus on getting my breath back to regular.

Break the spell.

It’s a small victory. Small victories go a long way.

For those moments when you cannot resist, you prepare a soft landing. Catch yourself as you fall.

H/T: And then… for the title. I hope you’ll forgive me. 😀

 

 

The Speckled Band

So, there are these days when there is this terrible sense of unease. You’re not depressed. Nor manic. It’s not mixed either. No anxiety.

You can think clearly, if you want. IF.

You don’t.

You cannot attend to anything. It takes all of you to be able to hold a conversation longer than 5 minutes with anyone. If more company arrives, you’re doing all you can to stay seated and not make a bolt out the door. Not out the window. Not yet.

And the whole day passes. You’ve lost any and all sense of time. There usually is anticipation to getting off work and heading home to your safe space. Well, it isn’t there today.

On days like these, there is this band stretched between your temples. Cannot make out if it is speckled (with due apologies to AC Doyle for the title) or striped, but it is stretched taut with screaming tension.

You just want it to snap. You’re primed to break when it does. And you are begging for that release.

There are some days when I can do something about it immediately. Other days it is a little difficult to find something to engage with.

Today was impossible.

Till I sat and typed this.

 

Empathy?

Not an easy word to wrap your head around. How do you empathise with what you do not understand?

Could we think of why we do not understand something?

  • I don’t want to understand something.
  • I don’t know how to understand something
  • I don’t want to learn
  • I cannot learn
  • I will not learn
  • I will not imagine
  • I cannot imagine

A lot of very kind somethings seem to start with – ‘Though I cannot imagine what it must be like, here’s this in any case”. This  being a placeholder for anything one might offer up in support.

Can I really support something without understanding what it is? Is what I offer as support meaningful in anyway if I do not understand – in explicit consequence – what it will and can do?

I’m using this question to prime a discussion on how we look at and deal with mental illness. I have been living with Schizoaffective Disorder for over three decades now, half of which was spent undiagnosed and half of the half with a bunch of tentative and erroneous diagnoses.

I’m not very sure I have anything to offer that might really help. But that’s the thing – I’m not sure. The only way – at least for me – to find out is to move a bit along this trajectory and see what emerges.

A lovely philosophical essay by Thomas Nagel out to set the picture up:

What is it like to be a Bat?

It’s an old classic. There have been some counterpoints to it over the years. But it sets the problem up in sharp relief.