A few things have given me pause for thought this week. Firstly I listened to a TED talk twice by Eleanor Longden essentially about overcoming schizophrenia. She makes the point that when a doctor, psychiatrist or perhaps even just a person who cares sees your distress (and possible mental health issues), they should be asking you ‘What’s happened to you?”, not “What’s wrong with you?”. In her case she started hearing voices in her second term at University and went down a horrific road which she eventually emerged from, once she was empowered to realise that the voices were all different aspects of herself and were there to warn her of her own feelings and childhood traumas (which she had been good at covering up until then). She learned to work with the voices and interpret their messages, and not to be afraid of them or take them literally. This is just a tiny summary and I would recommend listening to this fascinating 14 minute talk. http://www.ted.com/talks/eleanor_longden_the_voices_in_my_head.html
Anyway, this tied in with something else I read this week. A blogger wrote a piece about being fed up with people telling her to avoid or ‘not think about’ what was troubling her. She felt she should explore and vent, instead.
The third, slightly obscure thing that happened to me was going to a trivia night , a weekly event I usually avoid because the questions are basically too hard for me, to be honest. But this week I came up with two particular answers that surprised the hell out of me. In case you are interested, the questions were ‘Who opposed the Menshevas?’ (that is how he spelled it) and ‘What is the name of a person who polishes semi precious stones?’ The Menshevas could have been a football team for all I knew and we had nothing to even guess at except that as we were about to hand our answers in, I wrote Bolsheviks because it sounded similar (‘shev’). It was correct! The other answer I felt I should know but I could only come up with the word Lapidary (lapidarist), but I knew not why and I did not remotely believe it was correct. Again it was. Lucky guesses maybe. But what part of the brain holds these memories and words and answers (and feelings)? Where do they go to hide and how do we resurrect them without knowing how or even knowing that we know them? How do we know stuff we thought we didn’t know?
I want to explore how these three are connected. I personally am in the camp now where I tell myself I would rather not dwell on upsetting things. I distract myself and take the view from one of the many books I have read, that when you are feeling your most negative, that is the worst time to be making decisions and deciding to confront and try to change things. I would rather think of something else until my good mood returns, mostly because I don’t like feeling sad or fearful or anxious in response to those thoughts. All feelings start with a thought, so change the thought, change the feeling. Having been a ‘depressive’, complete with drugs for 3 years, many years ago, I personally found my way off the drugs by not listening to some of the rubbish thoughts in my head. I can’t always trust myself so I would literally say out loud “I’m not listening to this rubbish” – a tip I got from a book called ‘Beating the blues’.
But did Eleanor take this to extremes, so that she blocked out childhood trauma until such time as the voices came to remind her of the agonies she had suffered, mentally and physically and that many things needed to be resolved; that she had to be more in touch with her feelings? And am I afraid to dig further and see if there might have been something more sinister in my childhood which I have blocked out? It’s all very well coming up with trivia answers and digging deep for stuff we hope we somehow know. But…..
So I have decided that for me ignorance is bliss. I don’t want to know, I assume that all was mostly well, despite my many childhood accidents and scars. And if there is something buried in this brain of mine, long may it remain there. I’ve done enough digging and exploring of what I do remember and it wasn’t pleasant, so why on earth would you want more of that? It’s long since behind me now and is only my personal interpretation of events. I needed validation a long time ago that I wasn’t crazy, which I got from the professionals and I continue on, living best as I can in the ‘Now’, mostly cheery, and always curious. And long may it last!