Categories
connecting mental health

Psychological Privatisation

Jubilee Beacon, Pensarn, Conwy

I came across this idea from a Writer’s HQ newsletter and cannot find where to find out much more. This phrase “psychological privatisation” comes from Mark Fisher, who wrote Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, which I have not read but it is the quote from Goodreads and the paraphrasing from Writers HQ then what happened with the majority of the Jubilee beacons that got me thinking.

Disclaimer – I am not being negative of the Jubilee beacons. I think they were amazing and I loved both the turn out in my town and the whole concept, and the video by George Frost which I have taken this still from. I just think with all these things combined they are saying something about the times we are living in.

So I’ll start with the quote from Mark Fisher that was on Goodreads

“Instead of accepting the vast privatization of stress that has taken place over the last thirty years, we need to ask: how has it become acceptable that so many people, and especially so many young people, are ill? The ‘mental health plague’ in capitalist societies would suggest that, instead of being the only social system that works, capitalism is inherently dysfunctional, and that the cost of it appearing to work is very high.”


https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/9807275-instead-of-accepting-the-vast-privatization-of-stress-that-has

Or as Jo put it – and I paraphrase the paraphrasing –

Work and life demand too much of us so we are exhausted so we don’t ask our fellow human beings for help, for a better way of doing things. Instead we “try to make ourselves more efficient, push ourselves harder, buy into mindfulness and productivity strategies”, journal more, “and think the problem lies with us and not all the bullshit going on out there.” So we try to be “better” humans, more organised, do more, go faster, earn more, use our leisure time more “wisely”, then all would be fine.

All this stops us being more creative with our solutions and also more connected. It affects our mental health, leaving us more depressed, more anxious, more insular. It also, because we are tired, causes us to accept this crazy status quo and not be able to look for something different. Or even see that this is not working

So then along comes the Jubilee beacons. Now beacons of old were to send messages between communities either to say the enemy was in sight, a monarch was on their way, or as was had a long the North Wales coastline – a series of beacons that said a certain ship had been sighted off the coast of Anglesey and was on its way to Liverpool docks; that it had made a successful crossing. Beacons were for connection and for “passing it onwards.” The ones that happened on 2nd June all did happen at the same time with the same tune played and the same words said. Brilliant. But our little beacon did not see any other beacons and could not be seen by any other beacons. Also once everyone started to go home it was turned off and the burner taken home. There is no residue of a bonfire on our beach, whereas in times past these beacons would be left to burn out so everyone had a chance to see them.

I have a vague memory of lighting Jubilee beacons for the Queen’s 25th Jubilee, but they involved climbing to the top of a hill where the beacons of old were light and then the beacons were light one after the other. It all does happen very quickly.

But I think these beacons this year were a sign of how we are less connected at a deeper level. We are tired after the long pandemic, Brexit, strange election results in this country and the US, a war in Ukraine, the instability of life. Even with regard to the monarchy there is an instability. the Queen is not going to live much longer and then what? We don’t know. And when we try to talk about it we talk without listening.

I think the beacons were a sign. They were wonderfully organised, were efficient, used people’s time “wisely” but actually did not connect one community to another. At least not in a deep, supportive, holistic, “we need to change what we’re doing” sort of way. No trusting each other to “pass it on”.

Categories
different remember

Nostalgia

Photo of Porth Padrig graveyard taken by Diane Woodrow of Barefoot At The Kitchen Table
churchyard at Porth Padrig, Anglesey taken by myself Jan 2022

Living in a county crammed with history it is easy to get nostalgic for a past era. In fact my daughter and I were messaging last night and were saying that we missed lockdowns, though at the time when I look at my diary entries no one enjoyed them at all. But we can look back and miss those quiet times with nothing to do – even though we were chomping at the bit to get and do things.

In 2018 I did some work with a local high school based around WWI and was amazed how we sanitised it and looked at it as a time when people banded together to help each, of heroism, of being united. We are distanced from the death and horror by 100 years.

I wonder with all that is going on, and has been going on over the last few years – Brexit, pandemic and now the Russia/Ukrainian war – how history will view it. One cannot even guess because we are living through it.

But even things that we lived through, like lockdowns, we look back on in a different light.

So I think this means we need to be careful as we apply comparisons from history to what is happening across the world – whether Ukraine, pandemics, Yemen, etc. It is said that people don’t learn from history but I think that is because each time something happens the world is different and so history can show something but not enough or too much to help stop wars, stop abuse, stop things from happening, or make things happen.

As Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher born in 544 B.C., is alleged to have said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” which means that the conflicts, issues, problems, projects, that are going on at the moment are not the “same river” so we must not expect it to be. And also we are looking at things with through a nostalgic lens – whether rose-tinted or not.

So let us be careful as we make comparisons from history – yes history can lead to a conflict but there is much more going on in this present day. Perhaps we need to just focus on the here and now.

Just focus on the moment.

Categories
Higher Path walk

Choosing Pathways

With all the talk of the war in Ukraine and it being hard to forget it I thought I would show you some pictures my walks over the weekend just for a change of focus.

My husband was away for the weekend so the dog and I were home alone and the sun was shining. I wanted to go to Newborough Forest and beach. My daughter and I had been there two years ago just before words like pandemic and lockdown became common place. The weather was similar this weekend to the one two years ago and I really wanted to go, yet I realised I was nervous. Nervous of driving 40 miles to Newborough. Guilty that there are lovely places closer to me. But my heart was really craving to go.

So on Saturday I tried to make my heart change its mind by going for a walk by the sea. It was only 10 miles from my house and I combined it with a trip to get some colour charts to repaint rooms in my house. So fear and guilt were dealt with there, and also dog and I got to walk by the sea and enjoy.

Interestingly on that Saturday walk due to the battering the shore has received in recent months we could not go on our usual walk but had to take the newly constructed coastal path which took us higher up and so the view was different. Noticeably different.

But it wasn’t what my heart wanted and so on Sunday morning I gave in and decided to go. I was amazed at how nervous I felt. I can easily drive 40 miles without thinking about it yet something was nagging at me. I really had time to pray about some of my older friends who have been doing nothing since March 2020. Once their stimulation of going to groups, clubs, shopping, driving places, interacting with others was taken away their brains and bodies have reacted. For one it has moved her dementia forward quicker than if she’d still had that stimulation. For another it has caused her body to stop wanting to eat and she is exhibiting signs of anorexia. Fears and anxieties have grown in others where before they could have talked them through with someone else. So even though I could feel my stomach churning I decided to keep driving. Newborough was where I wanted to go.

Of course dog and I had a lovely time but even there due to the rain and winds we did not find the same paths and had to go a different way, which again led us to a higher path. Once again we were looking down on something we had walked along before. We walked for 2 1/2 hours, probably about 7 miles. And the sun shone all the time. I am glad I pushed through and did not let my fears and guilts and anxieties win the day.

As as you see on each walk I found a higher path. I feel there is something significant in that. I had to push down fears that would have made me pick somewhere else, and in fact even in my trying to pick somewhere else still I walked along a higher path. So maybe it isn’t whether I deal with my fears or stick to the easier way that will lead me to a higher path? But whatever it is I know I need to overcome my fears and push through.

With the way the last three years have gone – with Brexit, Covid and now Ukraine, plus climate change, rising prices, etc, etc, etc – there are a lot of things to be fearful of. Yet I think after my weekend walks that we need to push through our fears and walk that higher path – however that looks to each one of us.

Categories
anxiety] Covid-19

Covid Anxiety

Painting of Mona Lisa adapted to have her wearing a mask and holding hand sanitizer and toilet rolls
Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

On Monday I had my first ever PCR covid test. I’d had a hacking cough all weekend and because I run writing workshops where many of my participants are over 70 felt it was my duty of care to get checked. out. By Tuesday afternoon I had a text and email to say that I was negative, which I had expected as the hacking cough/sore throat is a yearly event for me as winter approaches. What I did not expect was the level of anxiety I experienced. This is not that any of the procedure is anxiety driven but there is something in that whole thing of “testing for covid” that caused issues in me.

From the moment I went on to the NHS site to book my test I felt myself start to shake and my chest get tighter. Driving to the test site I felt more anxious than I should have. And then from 1.30pm Monday to 2pm Tuesday I was gentle nervous and felt like my life was on hold. Of course some of that was that I had to cancel a workshop because of waiting for the result and keep the other group poised to wait for my results. I couldn’t go to the shops, though I did walk my dog. My husband started to worry that he would not be able to go away for the weekend. There was a lot of tension in our house that only dissipated when I got my negative result in.

Where did this fear come from when deep inside I knew this was just my yearly bug? I think it came from the high levels of anxiety that have been pumped at us from the media about Covid-19. Yes some of the things are wise advice, like washing hands properly which really we should have been doing anyway, but there has been this fear of “what ifs”. And we do hear of the number of deaths from Covid-19, though interestingly in my piece on The Day of The Dead not one of the people I mentioned had died of covid. Suicide seemed to be one of the big ones but I’m not sure how one tests for that.

So yes I am accepting covid is serious or why would the whole world be in lockdown? I am accepting that we need to do the social distancing and the hygiene things. But where does this level of high anxiety come from? I believe it is because we have been told for the last 20+ months to be in fear, not just of covid but of climate change, of terrorists, of Brexit, of economic crash, of poor government choices and more that when we have to face a PCR test it sets of all sorts of fight/flight triggers. I know it did with me.

So what can we do to change this without living in denial? Because denial is just another fight/flight/freeze/fawn response to trauma. And also how do we deal with this without turning to scapegoating some people group? Watch Ridley Road on BBC i-player, listening carefully to the right-wingers and their complaints. All are valid. All could be said today. We cannot let our anxieties come to this.

I do not have the answer at the moment apart from being aware of the feelings that the PCR test brought up in me and working to stay calm. But it has left me with more questions than answers. But maybe one of them is to Choose Joy?

Categories
Brexit Grace mercy Uncategorized

Brexit

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve had lots to say but not been able to work out how to say it, or have had other outlets. But this morning it came together.

dsc_0630I was at church where things were really uplifting but I didn’t feel it. I have had a heaviness in my heart since Friday evening with the whole Brexit thing. I’m not saying how I voted but what makes me sad is that – here is a momentous occasion in our nation’s history and yet the country is divided and so doesn’t know what to do.  Yes there were some who did have parties to celebrate, but it definitely wasn’t half the country. There were some who were in major mourning but again not all those who voted remain. There were many who were just numbed by the length of time it took to get from a vote to a movement. To me there was a sense of apathy, numbness and fear of the unknown. There was a sense of not knowing how to react so as not to upset anyone one way or the other. In our house the B word cannot be uttered because of where the conversation goes.

But this morning whilst we were singing it all made sense. We finished our service with an old favourite: Shine, Jesus, Shine by Graham Kendrick. The chorus says it all for me:

Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light

The lines I have highlighted I sang with gusto and as a prayer, but especially the line “Flood this nation with grace and mercy.dsc_0621

My prayer was that I don’t care what you voted for and whether you regret it or are pleased about the result, all I pray is that each of us can go out with GRACE and MERCY to cover this land, to heal this land, to heal division. And then … no matter what happens we can stand together, build our identity as a nation built on GRACE and MERCY, walk out whatever the future has with GRACE and MERCY, look each other in the eye with GRACE and MERCY. Only then can we really become the nation that we were meant to be.

Surely whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Pagan, Jew or any other that I’ve missed you want to see peace in this land, see freedom in this land, to unity in this land. And that will only come about if each of us can be filled with GRACE and MERCY and give it away to those around us.

Categories
Airbnb Brexit Dragons den expectations workshops writing

Projected Expectations

I run my own business – room rental and writing workshops. One of the suggestions for your business, if you’ve ever watched Dragons Den, is to projected your future income.

path-of-least-resistance
what is this river’s projected expectation? 🙂

So every so often I do that. But then what I do, as well as projecting it, is I spend it in my head. So I decide that due to what happened last month I will have x number of days with both my rooms/one of my rooms being rented, x number of people attending one/both of my workshops. And then I work out what to do with it all.

I had two prospective lodgers planning to come for this winter. So I – worried about where I would put some of my regulars if they choose to book (note they haven’t yet), and also I planned what I would do with this money. Well … one has changed her mind and has decided to stay where she is, the other has not got back to confirm or not. Well I went into meltdown worrying about how I would manage without this money. Without this money I have not yet got!!! Hummm!!

But again, as Brexit looms larger and larger (maybe!), I notice more and more projected expectations being banded about. I am sure they are done with more information than me expecting who is going to rent my rooms/attend my workshops but still there is that “who knows what will happen” factor that our media is reluctant to put in. Yes these are projected but they are not for definite what will happen.

The figures the media are projecting are the opposite to what I project. I projected income, the media is only telling us doom. Whereas I live in optimism, until someone cancels, the media are living in pessimism.

But here is my hope – just as I get it wrong with my income and so get a bit panicky, I hope that the soothsayers who are being published in our media will also get it wrong and things will be better than they say.

(NB – there are people predicting that it will not all be doom and gloom but it seems our Julian_of_Norwichpapers, etc, do not want to let us know that. I heard someone say they were optimistic of our future. You don’t get that in the papers!!!)

And also, as I have discovered with my little business, and with my life that even when things look bad we make it through and as Julian of Norwich said

‘It was necessary that there should be sin (rubbish stuff happening); but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’

Categories
accepting Brexit grief privilege rights Women's hour

Privilege or Right?

I was listening to some comments on Women’s Hour on Radio 4 yesterday about Brexit. What I noticed was that people seemed to see being about to go to and fro in Europe as a right. EG – it is my right that my elderly parents should be able to live in Greece and thenwomens hour be able to fly back to UK for treatment as and when they like; it is my right that I can live in France when I want to retire and still get my pension from UK and be able to vote even though I have not been in the country for 17 years; it is my right that as a European I should be able to live in England for as long as I like and not have to worry about visas, etc; and so it seemed to go on.

I think we often get confused and for get that things are for a period of time. Have you ever tried getting in to the USA? A very different story. But people don’t see it as a right to be able to come and go into the USA as they please, even though it until two hundred or so years ago it was part of Britain. It is seen as a privilege to be able to live and work there, as it is in many other countries.

I am not saying whether I am a leave or remain person but what I am saying is that for the last forty years or so I have had the privilege of coming and going into Europe to live, work, holiday as I have wanted with no hassle. Once in Europe, for a long time now, the currency has been the same so I will not starve if I cross borders after the banks have closed. [Yes one time I nearly starved in Belgium because we got stuck there, between France and Holland on a weekend!!] I see this as aDSCF1039.JPG privilege.

I wonder if we saw the last few years of being part of Europe as a privilege for a season whether we could enter the debate with a different heart? If I see something as my right I get upset if it is taken away. If I see something as a privilege to enjoy for a period of time then even if I am sad when it goes I have not held it so tightly.

On reading Dan Held Evan’s quote after his wife Rachel died suddenly at 37 it read as if, even though his grieve was huge, he still held his time with her as a privilege he had enjoy and as a right that should never be taken from him. There is a lovely man in our church who was married to his wife for just over 59 years before she died of cancer who, even though his grief is open and he often cried in church, says he still looks at the time they had together as a privilege to cherish.

I believe we cherish privileges but cling to rights.