Do you know what it's like to have a thousand crickets under your skin; all dancing a tarantella and climbing over each other to get out through your dermis?
Do you know what it's like to have a whirlpool in your stomach; roiling and churning, greedy to grasp all ships passing and suck them down to a watery grave?
Do you know what it's like to feel that Edvard Munch's The Scream was painted after a visit to the inside your head?
Well, I guess you do. You're reading this in Moodscope, after all.
Yes – welcome to my world; or maybe to your world too.
So, how do you deal with it?
Last Wednesday I had two health appointments, back to back. One was with a psychiatric nurse; a charming gentleman with whom I had an intelligent conversation about ancient choral music, and a counsellor.
The nurse mainly wanted to establish what was going on with me. Yup – those three statements above. Good for his notes and maybe my future treatment, but not exactly helpful right now.
The counsellor wanted to work through some strategies.
So we worked out some things I could do to manage myself and feel better. I may still need the drugs; we're clear on that, but these activities help.
• Gentle exercise. You know I swim – I've blogged about it. I try to swim every morning. About half a mile in thirty minutes or so. I don't push it – it's important the exercise is gentle and meditative. If I start the attempt to swim further in the same time, or to beat the person swimming next to me, then the adrenaline starts pumping again. Walking is good too; watching the changes of the seasons; smelling the air, breathing deep.
• Words. Oh my darlings – you can have no idea how much it helps me, being able to write honestly into this non-judgemental and understanding place. I write other words too, but this blog is literally a life-saver for me: it gives me purpose and, even on my darkest days, prevents despair.
• Art. I would never claim to be a great artist, but I love my painting, my zentangling, and my card making. I love the precision and detail in creating a small piece of art intended to give joy to the person who receives it.
• Music. When well enough, I love singing in a choir. When I am not well - well, I love listening to choral music. My constant accompaniment these days is the contemporary Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo. He writes about the beauty of his native country and his mesmeric compositions bring me peace. I am so grateful to him and the choirs which have recoreded his work.
Your therapeutic activities may be different. The important thing is to recognise them as treatment and not to feel guilty or self-indulgent when taking the time to actually do them. This is your medicine.
So, thank you Ola – your medicine is delicious!
A Moodscope member