“In the eye of a hurricane, there is quiet”. Hamilton musical.
I used to have a favourite Geography professor who would start off each lecture by bounding into the hall and saying, “Well good morning everybody. So much to talk to you about today in the world!” and then he would proceed to stick up a map (PAPER map, this was the early 1990s) and give a “report on the world” kind of summary. Often it had to do with weather and climate, “A 4.5 earthquake was felt off the coast of Costa Rica this morning. Generally you need to have a 5 or higher for property damage, so they should be okay down there, but they are on a tsunami watch just the same”, and sometimes it was political, “Well, Germany is having an election today. So many things to consider how that East and West is unified. They have their work cut out for them”. Sometimes it combined the two, “Well, the Jetstream is pushing quite a ways below us still, so that’s going to bring in much colder than normal weather for the next few days. Farmers won’t be able to get out in their fields as quickly as they had hoped, so that’s going to delay planting a bit. We’ll check in and see if it’s changed next week.”
I was always just so impressed with his seemingly limitless energy, interest and enthusiasm for the world, and his students. I should mention that his class started at 8:30 am twice a week, a time that was pretty hard to get up for, but I don’t think I ever missed a class. I took every class I could with him, no matter what the topic, because I knew he would have an interesting take on it. I was so lucky to keep in contact with him, and he acted as my thesis advisor when it came time to write that up.
I am thinking of him this morning, long retired and living on the West Coast, because I sort of feel like him now. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and I just want to write a bunch of stuff, Alexander Hamilton style, but where to begin? So much happening in the world!
It’s been an tough few weeks, and sometimes it feels like I’m in the middle of a hurricane, cut off from the familiar, the friendly, the supports I need, even when I am in their midst. Don’t worry gang, I’m not going to give you a laundry list of all the stuff that’s been bothering me recently. (Doesn’t THAT sound like a fun blog, though?) And I’m happy to say I really feel like I am back on track. The fact that I felt like writing a new blog post is testament to that, I think. I’m usually prepared for a bit of a slip in the mood in the autumn. It’s just my thing, and I know to expect it and deal with it the best I can. I’m thinking of launching a #fuckseptember hashtag, we will see. It’s my personal hurricane season. But sometimes stuff happens and you get out of whack for no real discernible reason, (not that the autumn is a real reason, but I guess the change of season? And winter/spring is ALSO a change of season? I guess my body likes to change it up on me, just for funners).
I worry how quickly a person’s mood can spiral out of control, and how that is the absolute centre (in my opinion) of a person’s wellness. With the right mood and mindset, I really feel like the world is a different place. What was that thing that Hamlet said? “O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space—were it not that I have bad dreams”. Something like that. A person’s mood and outlook can make ALL THE DIFFERENCE. Just an observation.
And sometimes, guys, you can’t make it on your own, as Bono told us a decade ago. There’s real help out there, but when your mood goes off, so goes the brain’s ability to see things rationally and you can cause yourself real harm, (or a delay in getting the help you need) by the very nature of the illness. It’s so dumb and cruel, really. Isn’t it? And the worst is trying to act normal and everything’s fine because you don’t want to get into it with anyone. So, so dumb.
I guess I’ve been thinking about this recently because there was a #therapyhelped hashtag going around twitter last week, which was pretty much people saying that, well, therapy helped them. It was to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness. It seems absurd that we are still “raising awareness” and “reducing stigma” for mental illness, but I guess the struggle is real and ongoing. You’ll never see a hasthag, “#branhelped” and then people tweeting about eating bran and having better poops, or “#plasterhelped” and a bunch of people with broken arms and legs giving testimonials of how their limbs REALLY DID HEAL when they were in casts for 6 weeks or whatever. (Not sure why I led with the poop example, but IT’S MY BLOG).
So, yeah. Therapy helped, and it does help. What you define as therapy can be all kinds of things. Something as simple as regular exercise, finding the humour in things, writing (like this blog!), singing, praying, spending time with loved ones, (or alternatively, having some quiet time), to more structured things: practicing mindfulness (it’s a thing!), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (talking!), medication (it WORKS, trust me), E.C.T. (ALSO works, trust me again, although my memory is a little foggy), are just some of the ways we can fight mental illness. I’m sure I’m missing some, but the key is that there is help, and you just need to seek it out. PLEASE, if you think you need help, GO GET IT. Override what your fucked up brain is telling you, and get help.
We can all be kings of infinite spaces even when we’re nutshell bound. We can all find quiet in the hurricane.