One of the things that I don’t think many people know about me is that I live in a constant state of severe anxiety. It affects pretty much every moment of my waking and sleeping (yes, it gets me in my dreams too) life.
The moments when I don’t feel suffocated by the pressure of worry are when I’m writing, reading or in nature. Life outside of these things can often feel distressing to the point that I want to give up.
The past week has been particularly challenging. While my mood has lifted somewhat (the dosage of my meds has been adjusted) my anxiety has worsened.
So I thought it would be wise to remember those things which brought joy into this currently extremely frazzled, extremely fraught existence.
Seeing A Fox
I hurried to the nature reserve, whispering to myself, ‘don’t let there be anyone else there, don’t let there be anyone else, don’t let there be anyone else there.’ And, by the dark, wonderful magic of the universe, I was the only human being around.
There was a moment when I thought, ‘ok, I should turn back now…’ but something propelled me to keep moving forward and when I looked up, I saw an animal leap across the path in front. It was something wild. You know when you know. I didn’t think I’d see whatever it was – I thought deer or fox – again but as I rounded the corner, sat on the path about ten feet in front was the most picturesque fox you can imagine. It looked at me for a few seconds then bounded off. It was the wild magic I so needed.
Just Being Out In Nature
While the fox was the highlight of my venture, just being out among the autumn trees and spinning spiders had me breathe a little easier, step a little lighter and think a little clearer.
Yes, I could hear the cars from the nearby motorway, but I could also see a snail resting in a flower. I could watch a spider bringing together it’s threads to make a new web. I could hear the honking of airborne geese. All of these things help make my anxiety, for those moments, as small as a pin head.
A Really Good Cup Of Tea
Some of the best moments of my life are when I’ve made a really good cup of tea. (It doesn’t take much to please me.) When I think to myself ‘this is, actually, the best cuppa I’ve ever made, ever. Nothing is going to top this.’
That happened three times this weekend. A good cup of tea can turn my mood from something horrific into something quite pleasant for an hour or so at least.
Writing A Poem
I used to write a poem a day without fail. It was something I did not only to hone my craft but because, if I didn’t, my day would feel incomplete and wrong. But since my most recent meltdown, my poetry output has steadily declined. Mostly because my well of ideas has been empty and is only very, very slowly re-filling, but also because the energy hasn’t been there. This has been extremely distressing and I found myself obsessing with the idea that I’d lost my ability to write poems.
So the other day, I asked my Facebook friends what I should write about. ‘A raven’ was one suggestion, so I took it up. As soon as I did that, I started to panic. My chest began to hurt and I wondered what the hell I’d gotten myself into. Why did I commit to something I might not even by able to do? But I set to it, completed it and posted it on Facebook. It’s not a particularly strong poem, but it was the proof I needed to myself that I can still write, I haven’t lost my craft.
Here it is by the way
I see your distinct black shape
where it shouldn’t be –
sprawled on the forest path
in a splash of bright sunshine.
One of your massive wings beats the air.
It’s how I know you’re not yet dead,
It’s remote here, almost creepy
in its quietness.
There’s no sign of what
brought you down.
I take you home under my coat,
you don’t croak once.
I’d hoped you would,
so I could feel the vibration
through my breastbone.
And have hope
you’d make it through the night.
I stay up with you at the kitchen table,
feed you nubs of maggots.
You take them gently,
with little of the authority
you would have had before.
The cat broods by the AGA.
And while you really don’t want to go,
the hours see you become weaker,
until those intelligent eyes fog over.
Your body releases the tension
of hurt and lies motionless.
The cat who’s been circling
the table the past several hours,
loses interest and goes to sleep.
I bury you in the chill before sunrise
and scatter your stunning remains
with feathers I’ve collected since childhood.
I wait for you.
And while I wait
I learn your other names
Korb, Raaf, Corbeu,
Kruk, Ravn, Karvas.
Months later, I bring out
your striking skeleton
and carefully string your bones
so I can wear you about my throat.
When people get curious
and come close,
I tell them you were a friend.
Saga Saying No
I know that in a few short months, I’m going to grit my teeth whenever Saga says no. But right now, whenever I hear it I smile, and I’m encouraging her to say it by doing daft things that get on her wick.
For years, I wouldn’t touch bread. Afraid the carbs would make my face all the more moonish. But today, I can’t be without the stuff. Especially bread with bits added to it – seeds, fruit, nuts, put it all in!
So when my Ma brought home a loaf of bread studded with cranberries, raisins, and cashews it took all my willpower not to snaffle the whole thing. I had a few ‘dainty’ slices today and the world was a better place.