#WorldMentalHealthDay, again. So has anything changed?

#WorldMentalHealthDay, again. So has anything changed?

#WorldMentalHealthDay, again. So has anything changed?

Just like Christmas, #WorldMentalHealthDay comes around faster and faster as I get older. I have a theory that the days are actually getting shorter, but that since clocks and all means of measuring time belong to the same universe where time is speeding up, no one can tell except older folks who everyone dismisses. That aside, here we are again, a day set aside to raise awareness of mental health issues.

I wish I had something good and exciting to say about the mental health provision in my own country but I don’t. Despite various campaigns and internet noise from organisations like MIND, Time to Change and The Samaritans, I can’t see that there has been any improvement at all, either in providing useful care or reducing stigma. A number of police forces have been considering suing the NHS because they feel it is entirely inappropriate that they have had to put vulnerable people in police cells for their own safety; locally I know of NO mental health beds available for suicidal or near suicidally ill people. On the last occasion I spoke to the Samaritans, the predictable question came up: have you spoken to your GP? I resisted the temptation to reply with asperity, but I did convey the complete pointlessness of seeing a GP when you have been bouncing around the system for much of your adult life, and that at present, all my GP would be able to offer would be medication I’d refuse and the possibility of going on a waiting list for CBT (which I would also refuse). The waiting list (last time I checked) was a good six months.

For someone who has struggled with mental illness all her life, I have come to a point where I could be described as high functioning depressive. I have never found medication to be helpful, though I must acknowledge that for some it is a life saver. I have only found it to make things worse. I have a low opinion of CBT for anything other than quite simple issues; it’s also become clear that while it is being used as a panacea for everything (it’s cheap) it’s very much contraindicated for a good number of conditions, including PTSD (something that is far more common and pervasive than people think, since it is usually associated with a single dramatic event in a person’s life, yet can be the result of long term stress, constant fear and so on). For long term serious conditions, much more is needed than simple therapies that are rolled out as cure-calls, usually with time/session limited courses of often no more than six sessions. But, we are told, there is no money.

Concerning stigma, I’m not convinced that’s reduced either. I read on the screen at the gym today some commentary on Tyson Fury’s mental illness, that trotted out all the usual guff about how he has everything to live for blah blah blah. It’s an ILLNESS, doofus. There’s been a subtle change that has in essence re-stigmatised mental illness. There are wide-spread ideas that are being spread via the internet, that it is possible to cure mental illness by maintaining positive thinking, smiling more, avoiding negative people, eating well, taking exercise and even by being consciously grateful for the good things in your life. All of these things may well benefit a person in the grips of a bit of glumness. But just as they won’t cure serious physical illness or injury, not will they cure mental illness. They’re coping strategies for staying well, no more than that. Yet it has entered the collective consciousness and the change is a very insidious form of stigma; people get told these things and if they fail to do them, or they try and nothing helps, it gets thrown back on them as being their fault for not trying harder or for whining or whatever. There’s a hidden attitude that actually depressed people deserve it, they’ve brought it on themselves by not trying hard enough to get better.

I’m also far from convinced that bringing in celebrities as Poster Boys and Girls for mental illness awareness is a useful thing. Many of those who have espoused the cause are, like me, high functioning depressives (other conditions are available…) and often don’t look like they’ve ever suffered a day’s blight in their lives. Then, when their lives implode periodically (for whatever reason) there’s mixed messages: first, so much for them being able to live well with the condition, blah blah, second, well if he/she can’t live with it with all their advantages in life, what hope is there for ordinary folks.

But I and my allies will fight on, as much as we can. There’s irony that depression robs you of the energy to fight for better care. I’ve made my book of essays, Depression and The Art of Tightrope Walking, only 99p (or whatever that is in other world currencies) worldwide, for a short period of time, to help raise awareness of mental health and mental illness. A recent review said that it would help others to understand what it means to live with such illness, and on a day like World Mental Health Day, I can’t think of a better thing for people to understand. The book will be at its lower price for a few days so please, please, please let others know about it, and if you have not already grabbed a copy, grab one now. Any reviews are very much appreciated too; the last time I looked there was nothing quite like it in the charts for mental health. Most books there are either self help books of some sort or celebrity mental health memoirs; mine is neither.

Whatever today brings you, I wish you all well.

(I have only added the UK link; for other Amazon stores, please enter the book title and my name into the search facility, or replace the dot co dot uk in the URL with whichever prefix is used for your local store ie dot fr, dot com etc)

Mama Masha’s Musings: Maria K on Mental Health, BPD and Life.

Today I’d like to introduce my friend Maria K. I met Maria a good few years ago, via Facebook and mutual friends, and she’s always managed to impress me with her strength and determination as well as a kind heart and a kick-ass nature. As you’ll read in her bio at the end of the post, Maria lives in the USA but she didn’t start out there. Her experience of living with a mental health issue that often goes undiagnosed and is often misunderstood, is both inspiring and thought-provoking.

Over to you, Maria:

 

 

I wrote this a few years ago and would like to add a couple of things in light of the current political situation.

There were some good things about the existing health care system, but there were also many issues. I don’t think I know a single person who doesn’t have multiple stories of unaffordable medications, inability to see specialists in a prompt manner, being blindsided by bills for surgeries and labwork they were convinced were covered by their insurance.

Mental health is, perhaps, one of the biggest gaps. There is still a broad misunderstanding of what mental illness actually is, and mental patients are frequently dismissed as people with the “bad case of nerves” or “unable to handle stress”. Taking a sick day for a sore throat, a broken leg or an appendectomy is acceptable. But taking a mental health day is considered lame and often earns you a bad reputation with managers and co-workers. At the other extremes, there are entire groups of doctors and patients too quick to issue and accept a mental illness diagnosis, where there shouldn’t be one.

Most insurance companies only cover ten therapy sessions per year. Anyone requiring ongoing attention of a mental health professional will tell you how laughable and pathetic that number is. It often takes up to five sessions just to establish rapport with your therapist. And what if you need therapy every two weeks? Once you have used up your ten sessions, it’s either pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket or endure a multi-month interruption in therapy, which can be a dangerous proposition.

With the constant mergers between the health insurance providers and companies shopping for the cheapest plan possible, a mental patient is at a constant risk of losing his or her therapist due to a change in the network coverage. This actually happened to me – I was very fortunate to find my perfect therapist from the first try (again, both mental health professionals and patients will tell you how rare that is), but I had to give her up after only six months because my employer made a decision to switch to another insurer, who did not cover my therapist. That was eight years ago. I was unable to find a good therapist match ever since.

Having seen this many issues with the mental health aspect of our health care alone, I honestly cannot understand people who say that we did not need a reform and that the system was well enough as it was. What follows is a narrative of the good, the bad, and the weird of being a Borderline.

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I always joke that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a trashcan of mental illnesses. It combines nine symptoms from some of the more prominent mental disorders: a little bit of bi-polar, a little bit of clinical depression, a little bit of social anxiety disorder, a little bit of ADD – but none of the symptoms are pronounced enough for a BPD patient to be diagnosed with any one of those illnesses. So, at some point mental health specialists must have gotten together and decided, “Well, let’s just pile them all into this one group and call this weird mental illness symptom combo thingie Borderline Personality Disorder. Doesn’t that sound cool?!”

Being a BPD patient (also referred to as “a Borderline”) is weird. You get misdiagnosed a lot and sometimes have to go through several therapists and several different medications to figure out what is wrong with you. As with any other mental illness, it’s tough to face the fact that you actually have a problem – primarily because the symptoms are so scattered and not always pronounced. One Borderline cannot always relate to another Borderline, because while you have to have 6 pronounced symptoms out of 9 to be diagnosed with any certainty, they don’t have to be the same 6 symptoms across the board, so a fellow BPD patient might have the same self-destructive tendencies, but not the social anxiety piece.

BPD is a pain in the neck – primarily because of its unpredictability. You never know, which one of your 6 pronounced symptoms (or umpteen combinations thereof) is going to hit you on any given day and how strongly. You might have a mild mood swing or you might have a full-blown “scared out of your mind” panic attack. (I’ve had those in my car in the middle of a highway a few times. It wasn’t fun.) Or you could have two contradictory symptoms acting up on the same day: like your social anxiety and your fear of being alone. Trust me – you do not want to be there!

I think it was the panic attacks and the self-destructive bouts that made me finally give in and try medication. I resisted the thought for a long time, because I thought taking medication would be a sign of weakness. But honestly? I think it was a lot braver to decide not to be miserable on a weekly basis anymore. The last straw came when I had a panic-induced breakdown in the middle of an aikido class in front of my instructor and all my fellow martial arts students. My doctor (the greatest, most wonderful person ever) put me on Lexapro, which is the mildest are pretty much gone. I still have an occasional breakdown, but they happen once every 3-4 months – not once every week.

Interestingly enough, it was Lexapro effectiveness that made me change jobs about a year and a half after I started medicating. I had this very meticulous, detail-oriented boring job, where I got slammed by my boss for having one digit in my documents out of order. The job was so monotonous, that I couldn’t keep my mind focused. I talked to my doctor about it and she suggested that we try shifting to Wellbutrin, which is an ADD drug, to help me stay focused. The problem was – Wellbutrin and Lexapro are mutually exclusive and should not be taken together, so I had to get off Lexapro. That was one of the worst months in my life! Wellbutrin did its job – I managed to stay focused despite the monotonous work I had to do. However, I have lost every positive effect I managed to build up with Lexapro over the previous year and a half. I started having panic attacks again and, worst of all, my self-destructive tendencies also decided to rear their ugly heads. I was so miserable, I cried every morning because I had to go to work and I cried every evening because my work made me even more miserable. Talk about a clear indication that it was time to change jobs! I did change jobs and went back to my trusty Lexapro and to feeling as close to normal as I could ever get.

With some of the uglier portions of BPD under control I am not sure if I would want to get rid of BPD altogether. Not everything about being a Borderline is bad. My mind activity is almost always at top pitch. I can think in 10 different directions at the same time and never lose track of any one of them. In all fairness, having an overactive mind can be troublesome sometimes – it makes one bored quickly when working on only one or two tasks and it’s difficult to settle down when it’s time to go to sleep. Having several things going at once helps in the former case (I usually have a database of some sort going on, an electronic copy of a book I am reading, a couple of e-mails, a trouble-shoot, and either a blog or one of my own books that I’m working on). I haven’t found any cure for the latter – difficulty of shutting down – other than taking half a Melatonin at dinner. I am not fond of pills, but any of the other “getting sleepy” methods just didn’t work for me consistently. [I had since stopped using any sleep medications, opting for natural remedies like Lavender and Valerian root.]

On a positive side, my memory is huge – I remember myself since I was 3 years old and I can recount stories from then till now with details and in color. I am lousy with dates and phone numbers and I do need to have a conversation with a person to remember his or her name for good. At the same time storylines, character names, major scenes and descriptions from hundreds of books I’ve read are not a problem – they are as fresh in my mind today as they were when I first read them.

I do have terrible nightmares, but I also have the most beautiful dreams – 3D, in color, with amazing plot twists. Who needs cable to watch a thrilling spectacle? All I need to do is go to sleep.

My ability to analyze just about anything is really sharp. I work as an analyst (it’s actually my job title), but I always joke that I am not an analyst by trade – I am an analyst by birth. My brain is wired for it. I think in tables and databases, when I need to, and arrive at conclusions so fast that I sometimes get frustrated by other people who don’t get it (I am working on being more tolerant about it).

When I was in grad school at RIT I had to take a couple of mandatory liberal arts courses to fulfill the credit requirements. I took Social Psychology among other things, where we had to do some analysis of various sets of data from public polls. After I have submitted my first summary, our instructor asked my permission to use my homework as an example of proper analysis in other classes. I found it rather amusing, because it must have ticked off a lot of Psychology majors to be shown how to do public data analysis by a Mechanical Engineer.

Yes, BPD is still an illness – there is nothing I can do about that. But when I think about it, I honestly wouldn’t want to give up the always-active brain, the memories, the analytical ability and especially the dreams only to get rid of an occasional day when I feel really, really bad. The black, depressive, self-destructive moments do pass and I am getting better at handling them. So, given I choice, I think I would rather keep on being a Borderline. Wouldn’t you?

Maria K. (the pen name of Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova) is a Russian-Ukrainian immigrant, writer, translator, and blogger, covering a wide range of topics from travel and fashion to politics and social issues. 

Mind of a statistician combined with the creativity of a writer and an artist, and backed up by the in-the-trenches, get-your-hands-dirty engineering training in a real-life manufacturing environment. …All of it is packaged within a woman of unique style, comprehensive education, superior organizational ability, iron-clad discipline and milti-faceted interests. 

A non-fiction and science fiction writer in her own right, Maria is also a prolific translator of less-known works of Russian and Ukrainian literature into English with over thirty original and translated publications. Her most prominent translations include her grandfather Vasily Kuznetsov’s Siege of Leningrad journals titled The Ring of Nine, and Thais of Athens – a historic novel by Ivan Yefremov. Both works quickly made their way into the top 100 Kindle publications in their respective categories and continue attracting consistent interest and acclaim from readers.

 

http://www.landofmariak.com/

What depression feels like ~ a moment by moment analysis

  What depression feels like ~ a moment by moment analysis

I’m sinking. I must have been sinking for ages but I couldn’t see it. I try to speak but words won’t come. They feel stale, overused and meaningless as I turn them over in my head like worn out clothes. I fall silent, all the things I might once have talked of now long forgotten, like those far off days on a summer afternoon after school, that lose meaning when you try and put those memories into some sort of adult order. My mind stutters, the words dry; there seems no point in speaking them. It won’t mean anything to anyone who wasn’t there at the time, and the memories vanish in a swirl of numbness.

I am eyes, seeing and observing, a pair of eyes in an ocean of nothingness. Some things are too bright, as if illuminated from within by the heat of decay; other things are dull as if a coating of filmy dirt covers them. I know some thing is beautiful but I feel nothing. It doesn’t touch me.

I am ears, hearing and remembering, but for what purpose I do not know. Like an idiot, I listen, trying to catch words in the chatter of sparrows, and make sense of the wind in the trees.

Someone once described to me what taking Ketamine feels like: you’re standing in a long corridor lined with doors. Each door leads somewhere but as you stand, the doors slam shut, hard, one after another. All that’s left is you, in a great long echoing hallway that goes nowhere with locked doors going on forever.

I can’t think. Every word I carve out of the rock with my fingernails, groping all the time for meaning in the darkness, the shape of things familiar and yet unknown. I’m aware of the things I know, but locked away somewhere, and I don’t have the password to open the doors again.

There are tears under the surface somewhere, bitter tears full of self pity and reproach. None of your sweet tears of release. These are pure acid and I will not shed them. They’ll corrode everything they touch.

So I sit, silent and unable to reach out and watch like a prisoner in a tower, waiting in that endless corridor, in the fading hope that one of those doors might not be locked after all.

It’s as close to dying as you can get, I think.

  { Edit. I posted this last night on http://thewildsheepsociety.wordpress.com for a number of reasons. For people who have no experience personally of depression, I’d like to remind them that it is an illness, it’s not something a person suffering with it chooses to endure, nobody enjoys it and it’s as damaging and debilitating as an illness or injury that can be seen plainly. I don’t write these sorts of things as a bid for attention, but initially as a way of trying to understand what happens to me, and I share some of them as a part of widening awarenss of an issue that is still somehow taboo. People who know me in the so-called real world are shocked to discover I have this illness because most of the time I hide it. When I suffer with the onset, I find I stop being able to talk. I can still write, usually, but my normal loquacious self vanishes and I will fall silent. I can still come out with the oneliners and the quick comebacks but only as a default setting. I don’t find them funny myself; it’s a way of diverting attention.}

10 things to help depression

Excuse me, I am more writing to myself than anyone else. It helps to make lists some times.  By the way, they are in no particualr order of importance, just as they occurred to me. I’m having trouble concentrating properly right now.

#1. Vigorous exercise of some kind. Not the easiest thing when all you want to do is crawl under the covers. Solution: get a dog. A dog will probably ensure that you get out for a brisk walk at least a couple of times a week. Exercise is up there on the list of things it can be impossible to do without someone else motivating you. A dog might just be the motivator. Mine was, until she got cancer 7 months ago and has slowed down.

#2. Physical contact. Massage is good, hugs are better. That said, I am not a touchy feely person generally and only within certain bounds I set for myself(which are often illogical when I try to explain; but to sum up its probably about INSTINCT.) My boss gave me an unsolicited hug and kiss on Monday and I felt like decking him. Decking your boss= a bad thing. A really, really bad thing…..

#3. This one is purely personal. Vast amounts of smoke. I don’t smoke and never have but I do love incense a lot. There’s a lot of evidence for the benefits of incense. My favourite is a Coptic one called God’s Smile (available from the Pan’s Pantry link on my Cool shopping list) which is used to treat depression. I’ve just used the very last of my supply a few minutes ago and am beginning to panic about it.

#4. Essential oils. Certain essential oils have intense properties of relieving depression. The same oils  carry a enormous price tag; Some neroli(orange blossom oil) retails at over £1 per drop. For what it’s worth, you get about 20 drops per millilitre. Years ago, in a very black spot, I tried to get a single drop of neroli out of the tiny vial, and in my haste, spilled half of it on the bathroom surface. Objecting to waste, I wiped it up with my hair like Mary Magdalene, and went off, to deliver child to school, intending myself severe harm later. By the time I’d driven the seven miles to school, the aroma had begun to lift me and halfway home I was singing a sea shanty. Other oils are also very powerful. Jasmine, rose, sandalwood, frankincense, lavender and most of the citrus oils are good. I’d recommend Valerie Ann Worwood’s The Fragrant Mind for further study. 

#5. Spending time in nature. Combined with exercise, if you can actually get beyond your front door, sunshine and fresh air can get you through some bad times. Again, refer to #1 for motivator

#6 Watching something funny. Many mental hospitals are using humourous dvds to treat patients with great effect. The simple act of smiling for more than 20 seconds produces feel good endorphins. Laughter is even better.

#7 Talking to someone who knows and loves you and you can trust. If there isn’t anyone, at all, try the Samaritans or some similar organisation. They’re trained to care , true but I’ve only ever found kindness and understanding there. You don’t get through the training otherwise. If all else fails, revert to #1: dogs are good listeners.

#8 Do something for someone else. Practise random acts of senseless kindness, like leaving flowers for the nurses at the local hospital.

#9 Music. This is sometimes a bad move if you tend to gravitate to certain kinds of music. Go to a music store and find something a bit different. I found a cd of Italian baroque improvisations which lifts me every time I hear it.

#10 Remembering that this, too, will pass. Knowing, even if you have to write it on post-it notes and leave it everywhere, that even the darkest days will eventually pass,  is a strange comfort when you can’t imagine anything other than the current pain, but it is a comfort.

#11……over to you….?        

I’m off to either walk the dog or put on a funny dvd.

The Uninvited Guest

  The Uninvited Guest 

I felt him come in; through the noise and colour and lights of the party, I felt him come into the room and stand quietly to one side, not mingling,  just waiting and watching. We have such a deep connection he didn’t need to tell me he was there; I knew. Maybe there was a change in the air, maybe I smelled him, his scent distinct as the ozone smell before a storm breaks. Whatever it was, I knew he’d arrived and I felt a brief flare of rage that he should just turn up here, uninvited and unwanted, when I was trying to enjoy my party.

The heat of the room was pleasant still and I was passing from guest to guest, making conversation and laughing, but all the time I could feel his eyes follow me round the room. He wouldn’t do or say anything yet; from experience I knew he could be trusted to behave for a while longer. He might even be decent company for some guests but if that were the case, as I shut the door on the last few to leave, there’d be hell to pay for ignoring him all evening. I had to act.

I sidled up to him; he’s an expert sidler so he appreciated that, and grinned at me as I took his elbow and guided him into the kitchen. With my foot wedged against the door, to stop anyone else coming in, I looked at him sternly and felt furious that he just laughed.

“What are you doing here?” I demanded. “I didn’t invite you.”

“You never do,” he said, his mouth turned down in a quirky mock frown. “You never do.”

“Well, what do you expect? You’re a right royal pain when you’re with me. You make my friends hate me,” I said.

“No,” he said and I saw that the joking was over. “They don’t hate you. Honestly. They don’t even know about me, most of them. Or care. I know I make you different when I’m with you, but is that such a bad thing?”

“Yes,” I said.

Someone rattled at the door.

“Just a minute,” I called.

“Look,” I said. “You can stay, all right, but please don’t upset anyone.”

“Deal,” he said and held out a hand.

Reluctantly I took it and he squeezed it.

“We do need to talk,” he said gently and I could see he meant it.

“Later, when everyone’s gone,” I said.

“You always say that,” he said.

“Maybe this time I mean it,” I said.

He kept his word and behaved like a perfect gentleman. I’m not sure anyone really noticed him among the guests; he certainly didn’t stand out as anything out of the ordinary. Nonetheless, I was glad when I shut the door behind my last guest and knew there was nothing more he could do to spoil my party.

I was collecting glasses and he came up behind me, making me jump and drop glasses. I scrabbled to retrieve them and set them down on a coffee table.

“We need to talk,” he said again.

“Then talk,” I said. “I have all night now. What do you need to tell me?”

Depression and the art of tightropewalking

If you’ve ever suffered from depression I’d be willing to bet that at least one person you told that you were depressed asked, “What about?”

I’ve probably done it myself thouhtlessly but these days I try and ask whether they know the cause, which is a much more sensible question really.

Because in all honesty, we use the term depressed too readily and it’s diluted its true meaning. You can’t be depressed ABOUT anything; fed up, pissed off or whatever but not depressed. Reactive depression, which is the kind of extreme gloom or misery that has an actual identifiable  cause (grief, job loss etc) is quite different from clinical depression. Clinical depression has its root cause in brain chemistry.

I wish they had thought of another word rather than used Depression for this type of disorder, in the way they’ve stopped using the term Manic depression for Bi-polar disorder. It’s too easy to feel that you can cheer someone up who has clinical depression. I know about laughter therapy and so on but hey, stick with me here. I just wish there was another word.

I should be happy now. I should be delighted that work is now much pleasanter. But it doesn’t seem to matter much at core.

I’ve realised that the fairly awful conditions at work were simply masking the fact that I am still suffering from chronic depression. I let myself be fooled that it was the conditions I was fed up with, and that if they improved so would my mood. Well, conditions are way better and I’m not. I’m cross now. I’ve got some fabulous things going on in my life but I don’t seem to be able to feel happy or excited or really anything much. Just blah. Grey. I’d been missing the fact that battling against trouble was simply blinding me to a problem I can’t seem to solve, whatever I do.

And I have ways to get through a period of depression, believe me, I have a dozen and more methods to lift my own mood, boost my endorphins and so on. I use them and they work. But the Black Dog is still there. He’s been there since I was at least six years old.

Why in heaven’s name does this always happen? Why do I reset to my default setting, and so often and for so long?

I can’t feel much; it’s like being numbed with Novacaine all the time. Except for the times when without warning I feel tears welling up and that I dread. I avoid talking or thinking about some things because I know they’re a trigger. But new ones pop up.

And it slows me down as well. It took me two hours to prepare a lesson that will take only three hours (with break  in the middle taking away 15 mins) to teach. I want to write and yet, nothing seems to flow. It’s like wading through treacle.

Maybe it’s the tiredness talking. Maybe I’m sickening for something. Or maybe the Black Dog is back to stay for a while. I simply was so busy fighting Goblins that I didn’t notice him slip in and get all comfy by the fire.

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.

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!

Thanks!