Never feel afraid to think.
Currently, if the state of my allotment and garden were recognised by the medical profession, as being acceptable diagnostic tools for determining state of mind, and a certified means of determining a ‘healthy psychological bill of health’, then i’d make easy work for any kind of Psychiatrist, I imagine.
Over the past six months, there have been many different events, stresses, overgrown and domineering thoughts, which have accumulated without due intervention and control, in my mind, wrecked havoc on my mental health, and my ability to ‘see’ or ‘think’ clearly. I’m thankfully beginning to make progress, towards the goal of recovery in mental, and physical health, now.
Part of this journey towards recovering, has included suddenly being able to notice, and reflect on things again. This is both good and bad- it’s reassuring and hopeful to realise I must be moving away from a negative place, because I can suddenly see quite clearly, the areas of my life and the passions enjoyed through living, which have suffered neglect.
It’s daunting, to be able to look at the overgrowth, the ‘jungle’ left to grow wild, and the flower beds without flowers, which currently shape the canvas of my allotment. Yet at the same time, it is exciting and positive, when taking into account the ‘bigger picture’ this paints. The garden endeavors.
Hinting at the prospect of the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, nearing achievement of wellness, I have to concede, while humbling, and fairly worrying, the realisation there is a mess to address, left in the wake of my mind’s little rampage and attempt at self-destruction, surely surpasses the short term moment of panic, in this story.
Imagine if all of us busy, full time working, thinking, feeling, hearing, social networking, living, breathing, sleeping people in this world, were able to find the time and the resources to be able to ‘dig for victory’ for our mental and physical health. Then have the means to look back at the ever shifting landscape of a garden/outdoor space, which we create, sustain and maintain over a number of years.
It’s funny to wonder if this would put Psychiatrists, Doctors, Therapists, self-help books and more, out of a job!
Obviously, there are practical obstacles which get in the way of having time to tend to nature- work, and living in a flat/having no outdoor space, coming to mind first as being just a few of them. It’s all well and good knowing that ‘to spend time outdoors’, in ‘fresh air’ and with Radishes growing out of your fingernails, you’re so ‘in touch with nature’, as a means to recovering mentally and physically from illness, if you couldn’t even fit a plantpot on your windowsill, or hospital bed, for that matter, if you tried.
But there are ways– and you know what they say about ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’… Personally, I think that saying works out both ways around- where there is a way, there will be a will.
Having the will to work towards the way in the first place, feels more like an oppressive reminder, of just how hard it can be to regain that will/motivation/drive, when you’ve lost sight of what it even means, feels like, or represents.
‘Will’ or ‘willpower’. The idea that you might need this first, before you can make your way to progress, might serve only to make someone feel more powerless, more trapped.
‘Means’ or ‘way’. As it happens, even when there isn’t a will, there is still a way. Sometimes, we know of many such ‘ways’ already.
When I have found myself ‘lost’ in the petrifying stomach of Depression, or other such ‘adventures’ in mental illness, I am only too aware of WHAT I have to do, to reignite the wick which fires up my will.
Sometimes, we need a bit of help, when emerging, confused, scared, and downright vulnerable. As it happens, we do still know, deep within us, what ‘the way’ is. It’s never this straight forward (typically) though we understand.
So I ended up getting ‘sent on sick’ leave at work, due to a climaxing of several momentary meltdowns, into a longer, more insidious one. One which took me to the edge of the cliff, and had me dangling off there with just my bare hands to muzzle deep into the chalky periphery, and claw into the Earth for dear life.
All metaphorically speaking. It’s a way of conveying speech which I think is one of the only ways you can explain, and illustrate, mental health, and how it happens. It is just so much easier to paint a picture via metaphor, when trying to find the shapes which define your mental world, and narrate it’s story.
Trying to be fair to the recipient of your story, which includes yourself and those you voice it to, or those you don’t, it enables some kind of structure for understanding.
It is hard to talk about mental health.
The judgement which you (human), cast down on your own thoughts and feelings, suffers from it’s own distortions. How can you ‘diagnose yourself’ if you don’t know all your own mental parts, which of them you like, and those you don’t (and why?).
This is incredibly difficult to do objectively, when the ingredients of the ‘self’ come so many different sources. It comes not only from our historic, biological DNA and organs; that physical and’see-able’, quantifiable, human blueprint. And it comes from what our senses made of the environment, from birth to now (and counting).
There can be no such thing as a self which can replicated, because the variables, which shape it are too rich in their diversity, and all the odds are against the idea of there ever existing another self, which is identical in it’s on-going crafting, of your own.
So, returning to applying judgement- It’s fair to say that all of us can only use the tools for understanding which we have. Which is the condition against which we struggle, trying find the words to talk about mental health. We find that the words we have to work with, to describe and to think in the language of, are too ambiguous, too contested and too ‘sticky’ to talk with easily, about mental health.
When it comes to how people, including myself, can express and communicate matters of the mind, it’s almost like we’d need a whole new language to do so in a way which does it justice.
I myself can most certainly not be arsed, to embark upon threading some new complications and intricases, into our already infamously complex English Language.
So thank the weird minds of us all, for metaphors.
If to be human is to feel loved, then I feel non-human,
If to be human is to procreate, then I feel inhuman.
Even if the human is the gardener, in the kindest, clearest, blue-ish world,
Then I feel inhuman.
If to be human is to loathe, then I feel most certainly incapable of humanity, which is slightly strange and sad. If it is to exist within a group, and submit to a social stacking order, I even then feel not a human, but a near observer. Of a hive that is not quite my own, but is still the most accessible to my body-bound mind.
There is something wrong about the house. I shan’t even call it ‘my house’, as it feels completely not my own. Nor even Rowett’s, or the real landlord’s- perhaps more like the old man’s, who lives next door, and has done for many, many years.
Even then though, I feel he would take ownership of this house from a distance, as if knowing it’s rightful owner needed their claim to the stain of the bricks to be respected and left alone.
It breathes dust, ash, dirt and smog. All contents turn soon to a kind of trash, and clamber over one another in order to reach the little light.
I want to leave this house. It is uncomfortably temporary, and uncomfortably permanent.