The Little Ease

Much of today I’ve felt on the brink of tears. No special reason; nothing dreadful has happened. I’ve misplaced my wedding ring; not my original one, that has long been to small, but one we bought two years ago. I suspect the faeries have borrowed it but it’s sent me scurrying in corners and turning out piles of books and magazines, and making me anxious in the process. Correction: more anxious.

Those of you who are here regularly will know I have a tendency to suffer from anxiety, though externally I rarely show it. My mask is one of unflappability. But inside I am often a seething mass of undefined and unfocussed anxiety.

Let me now introduce you to my companion of late: The Little Ease. I couldn’t find a picture so I will write you one instead.

The Little Ease was a delightful invention of the oh-so-inventive middle ages, and is basically a device for torture. Before you start imagining thumb screws and Iron maidens, the Little Ease was rather more subtle than those imposters. It wasn’t designed to cripple or maim. Well, not quickly anyway. It consisted of a small metal cage with several strategically placed spikes; don’t worry about the spikes, they’re almost decorative. The cage admitted one, though I suspect some devillish bastard doubled up the occupants for fun. It wasn’t long enough to lie down in, nor tall enough to stand up in, and the spikes(remember the spikes, oh my best beloved?) was so placed as to stop the occupant from sitting down. That’s it: the Little Ease.

Doesn’t sound so bad does it?

Think again. You can’t straighten out or stretch or lie down or even just sit. You are trapped in a perpetual crouch. You can’t lean against anything because of the spikes. If you drop off to sleep in that crouch, you fall and bash your face against the point of a spike.

People were put in them for years.


One man apparently lived in one for seventeen years and when released lived to a respectable old age.

I don’t know about his age beforehand or his mental health afterwards either.

Now imagine you are in that cage with the amusing name.

Nasty isn’t it?

That’s what my head inside feels like this evening. I can’t get comfortable to save my life; I can’t find a posture that isn’t agony after an hour or two. I don’t know when they’re coming to let me out and I can’t even remember who put me in here.

I have a seminar for work this evening (unpaid) and maybe that might be why I’ve been feeling so anxious, as there’s a lot going on that I dislike and find upsetting. I’ve tried meditating but I keep getting the error message.

So if you happen to be walking past my personal little ease, do me a favour, if you can’t fetch me the key, at least chuck me a pillow or something!


9 thoughts on “The Little Ease

  1. Viv, I give you permission to open the unlocked door of your “little ease.” That is of course, only if you want to give yourself permission to exit. But then again, what is the payoff for staying within the lttle ease? Interesting question.


    • This is quite interesting, because it highlights a big gap between the belief that mental illness is purely psychological and therefore lies in our personal sphere to change it, and that mental illness(or disease, or distress) is a result of a medical issue, caused by chemicals becoming unbalanced and unstable in brain and body. My belief is that while there is an overlap between the two, for me, right now, you saying “I give you permission to exit the little ease” is akin to saying “Take up your bed and walk” when you are not the messiah in first century Palestine.
      I’m not saying this in anger, here, Retired eagle, because I recognise and am thankful for your kindness and your attempt to help. But would you say to someone with a broken leg, it’s all in your mind and if you change your attitude your leg will not hurt any more? I think not.
      Within any healing modality there is scope for magical thinking(as you yourself put it). I don’t have access to the kinds of therapies you have yourself benefitted from, and it’s much like saying to an African child dying of malaria, well, the medicines to treat it exist, you just have to swallow them.
      I am experienced in dealing with my own difficult times; I can recognise when I have the power to walk away and when I do not. Such times as this I can do no more than wait for the worst of it to pass.
      And to answer your last question(which is indeed interesting) if one indeed has the power to exit at any time(which I dispute) then there are pay-offs, all of which are even more damaging than whatever put you in there in the first place.


      • I see you have answered Retired Eagle’s comment in the meantime. I hope my words won’t sound rude to you.


      • Not at all, Shiona. I appreciate the comments from you both. They give me things for think about.
        I tried the ideas on for size, to see if they fitted, and this time they didn’t. I’m aware there are times when they would, because I do know that at times I do have the power to walk away from this sort of thing. Last night I didn’t. I didn’t sleep much, and got up and read till about 3am to calm myself.
        I’m trying to tackle the practical problems of dealing with an intolerable work situation, listing what I can and can’t do. I’m also fretting about my lost ring, which comes under the heading of not in my power either!


  2. It’s the first time I’ve heard of the Little Ease. I’ve never been able to grasp how come the human mind is capable of such atrocity.
    Anyway. To me retiredeagle is right – you are the one who is holding the key. I know that’s easier said than done since I myself am often a victim to anxiety, but I believe it’s you who must let yourself free.


  3. Aroooo….woof, woof!
    Here’s the pillow…
    Good that I learned to fetch a pillow – right? (cushion and pillow are the same to me – so did I fetch you a pillow or a cushion?)

    Licks n wags,


  4. Little Ease:

    A small dark cell in Guildhall, London, where disorderly apprentices are confined by the city chamberlain: it is called Little Ease from its being so low that a lad cannot stand upright in it.


    I am sorry – but that must be painful. I recommend what I always recommend to Cameo – beyond yourself, neither expect nor hope to find perfection (I am sure that you should expect it from yourself too – but around Cameo you need to tread cautiously – I can’t jump at him:)) It could help – if you begin to accept it.

    Licks n wags,


    • It thankfully passes, usually. I wake and find that I am no longer within it but I don’t know how I got out.
      I like that dictum, “beyond yourself, neither expect nor hope to find perfection” very zen!
      thank you.
      have another treat!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.