Day 847

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My box…

I will put in my box
A confirmation certificate
And words of praise for my bishop.
My husband’s compassion
And the heart beat of the sea.

I will put in my box
Chinese fire crackers that
Spit and spark at the devil.
Silhouettes of palm trees
And lightning during the monsoon.

I will put in my box
A teenage tomboy
Forever-happy climbing mango trees.
A far away memory of mother’s laugh
And a fisherman’s hook.

I will put in my box
Only good stuff
A glowing friendship and
A sweet cup of tea.

I will put in my box
My youth and
All the fun of the fair
With donkeys and candyfloss.

I will put in my box
The smell of my first baby
A lot of understanding
And a day in the New Forest in a church
Waiting to hear Dancing Queen playing on the organ.

I will put in my box
A guinea pig from long ago
So sensitive and soft,
Squeezing into a ball like a cat
An orange tree I climbed,
Scared of nothing and such rewards!

I will put in my box
The circus at Blackpool and dancing
Girls in swimsuits.
The smell of mango
And juice of young coconut.

My box is made of
Garden scents and music
With ribbons and buttons and all sorts
On the lid.
You can unlock it by wishing quietly.

I shall keep my box
High on a roll of thunder
And watch the dice
As they tumble down
An evening by the beach.

  • By a creative writing group of elderly patients with mental illness.

What would I put in my box?

I will put in my box
The infectious laughter of my young man
The warm embrace of my sweetheart
The healing touch of my mother’s fingertips
running through my hair
All the colours of autumn.

What would you put in your box?

Day 846

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Simba Muzira, son of Sara Muzira.
Exhibition of Art, Long Gallery, Maudsley Hospital. London.
Simba Muzira. Doing it again.

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Spray paint. Street art. Bold statements. Clear expressions. Innocent eyes. Pure soul.
Courage. Suffering. Passion.

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Pigeons telling him not to wear his shoes. Pigeons everywhere! No words!

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A mother’s tribute to her talented son who died at 32 after living with mental illness for a few years, in and out of the hospital. Her accounts of doing things in his best interest which turned out otherwise. Her heartbreak at having to live away from him when he was too ill to be at home. Her sense of an utter waste of a young life full of promise. Her guilt. Again and again. Her love. Immeasurable.

I salute you. Sara and Simba Muzira.

 

Day 845

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The art of pottery has held my fascination for as long as I can remember. It is my secret dream to be a master potter, someone who creates magical ceramics that can hold the world in them.

This evening I happened to watch a pottery programme on TV. It featured 7 highly talented potters. Some of their creations brought tears to my eyes. Watching them make these artful objects step by step from scratch was a real treat. One thing they all had in common was that if the clay on the wheel went wonky in any way, they would start all over again. They made no attempts to fix the broken, damaged, warped, marred, misshapen, spoilt, wrecked potential pots. That clay went straight from the wheel onto a waste heap. However, it can be reprocessed, kneaded and made ready for the wheel again.

I identified completely with one of those accidentally wounded pots, even in the hands of master potters. No fresh clay is needed.  I just have to refashion this existing clay into a divine vessel that lovingly cradles the world.

Day 842

A Psychiatrist recently expressed his point of view- “If I take everyone who tells me they want to end their lives seriously, I would have to admit almost everyone I see to hospital. What we need is for people to be able to verbalise how they feel rather than dash straight to a perceived solution.” I suppose he means it would be helpful if everyone had an emotional vocabulary, a way of describing how they feel – happy, worried, excited, frustrated, scared, wretched, rotten, hopeless, angry…  a process that ideally should start when we’re kids. Just like we learn to identify objects and name them, we should develop the ability to identify our feelings and name them.

“If you’re happy and you know it…clap your hands.”
“If you’re happy and you know it, hug a friend.”
“If you’re sad and you know it, cry a tear – “boo-hoo.”
“If you’re mad and you know it, use your words “I’m mad.”
“If you’re scared and you know it, get some help, “HEEELLLLPPP!”
“If you’re silly and you know it, make a face, “BBBBLLLUUUUHHHH!”

“A large and more complex feeling vocabulary allows children to make finer discriminations between feelings; to better communicate with others about their internal affective states; and to engage in discussions about their personal experiences with the world”
– Centre on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL)

Adults can proactively teach young children to identify their feelings and those of others. Through stories, modelling and role play they can pair an emotion with a coping strategy, for example, taking a deep breath when angry; requesting a break when annoyed, talking to someone when sad. Positive emotions may need to be regulated too.

When I was young, feelings didn’t get much attention. They were often set aside, ignored or suppressed. They didn’t seem to be important. They came and went and changed all the time. So, it was easy to not hang on to them. Doing, behaving, achieving and knowing were important. They were tangible and afforded rewards. So, it was easy to focus on them. I didn’t have an emotional vocabulary. I didn’t know there was such a thing. I didn’t know many people who had it. Now I am learning.

Ref:

The feelings song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsISd1AMNYU

On Monday when it rained: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOhwGmxDPl8

http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/modules/module2/handout6.pdf

Day 835

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The sensitive ones feel deeply, love deeply, hurt deeply. In this hard world, they are forced to grow an armour of steel but inside they are soft and bruise easily. They suffer not only their own angst but also the pain of everyone around them, especially those they love.

They make good mimics and actors because they can literally put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It is their keen observation and empathy that enables them to imitate others accents and actions to perfection.

They make good musicians because their ears and brains are superbly tuned to their heart-strings and they can truly feel the music.

They make good friends as they are loyal, honest and true. Simple things mean a lot to them. Their purity and simplicity make them adorable.

Their sensitivity is the source of their passion and compassion, creativity and a deep appreciation of the small things in life, keen awareness and a vivid inner life.

They suffer deeply when betrayed, rejected or devalued. They fret over misunderstandings and unresolved issues.

All they want is to love and be loved.

The world needs more sensitive people but sadly, hasn’t learnt to value them enough.

drumming

 

Day 832

The hospital where we went when he was ill is just down the road from where we live. It is 18 minutes by bus, 10 minutes but car on a quiet day. The Emergency department is on the left. The Mental hospital is on the right. There is a visitor’s car park in front of the Mental hospital. That is where we parked the car. That is where we waited for a couple of hours to be seen by a psychiatrist. That is where I had to make my own way that day because Saagar refused to have me in the car with him and his father. That is where he should have been when he was severely ill a few weeks later. That is where he could have been saved.

That is where I went this afternoon to watch a play called ‘Hearing Things’, a play co-produced by patients and professionals, based on insights derived from 6 weeks of workshops involving actors and people with a mental illness, offering both an opportunity for expression, transformation and co-creation. Through a cast of 3, we met people of different races and age groups. It was about challenging assumptions. It was about the empathy and personalities of patients. It was about ‘the system’ and the dynamics within it, mental well being of health care providers and role-reversal. It was about giving people a chance.

“I am off now to be mad and I don’t have to be sectioned for it”, remarked one of the participants as drama gave him the freedom to be who he is, without fear of judgment. It was about the possibility of being ‘re-assembled’. It was powerful and moving. It did not mince words. I spoke loud and clear. It was accessible, funny, clever and heart-breaking.

One young person describes his experience of drama:

“…after you do the drama you get this feeling…it feels as if whatever was bothering you went away and you feel light and can do whatever you want around you, it makes the day simpler and you can concentrate on your activities, it makes you feel better, like at the end of the day when you come home from work tired and you want to put your feet up, you don’t feel guilty relaxing as you have done a hard days work. I wanted to understand the person and put myself in their shoes.  At the end of it I felt good.  150% happy!”  

 It was about creating a new paradigm of relating to people suffering with mental illness.  It was all heart.

Ref:

http://playingon.org.uk/hearing-things-2016-2017/

Day 826

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This forgotten book-mark in a book being revisited after two years is an origami crane – a symbol of healing in Japan. A school kid had given it to me at Hiroshima as a token of gratitude for helping him practise his spoken English.

Paper folding started in China in the first century and reached Japan in the 6th century. Here it was cultivated as an art of understatement. Origami suggests. It implies without announcing outright. It intimates without brashness. In Japanese folklore, a crane is fabled to live for a thousand years and is held in high esteem. It is believed that folding 1000 paper cranes brings the folder’s wishes come true.

A young girl called Sadako Sasaki survived the Hiroshima bomb when she was only two years old. Less than 10 years later she was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow. The disease progressed rapidly and the prognosis was not good. She set out to make a thousand paper cranes. She could complete 644 before she died on Oct. 25, 1955, less than a year after being diagnosed. Her classmates, family and friends made more to bring them up to 1000 and buried them with Sadako.

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Her story captured the imagination of the country and the world. Today, we recognize the crane as a symbol of peace and hope.

“She let out both the pain of our parents and her own suffering with each crane.”
“Her death gave us a big goal. Small peace is so important with compassion and delicacy it will become big like a ripple effect. She showed us how to do it. It is my, and the Sasaki family’s responsibility to tell her story to the world. I believe if you don’t create a small peace, you can’t create a bigger peace. I like to gather those good wishes and good will and spread to the world,” said Masahiro, her brother.

Peace and hope to Sadako and to us all.