Joy in Hell? Well, trying

OK: so things in my head are so bad I’ve regressed to the behaviours and thought patterns of a twelve year old girl; I’m comfort eating to unhealthy levels, and my emotions are watching the word ‘labile’ disappear fast in the rear view mirror.

BUT (and we’ve always got to work on that ‘but’!) a family of noisy miners (Manorina melanocephala) have built a nest in the shrubs lining the path to my front door. This is good news. It’s a teeny teeny tiny happy thing, but I’m clinging to it.

Some of my favourite psych ward memories involve laughter. Remember that scene in Silver Linings Playbook where Pat and Tiffany meet for the first time at Ronnie and Veronica’s, and have that great conversation about meds? I know those conversations, and gushed to my partner after about how well the director had captured their essence. One of the funniest I remember was a few years ago, in a city far away, where I was facing the prospect of returning to a house with a large black dog next door – which would bark mournfully, howlingly, and constantly during the day while his owners were at work. Four of us sat around the table and debated which tablet to spike a steak cube with. Of course it never happened, but that is a beautiful memory.

Another delight was an ECT patient saying mid-conversation to the rest of us (who were not being treated with ECT): “What happens in the ECT Recovery Room stays in the ECT Recovery Room.” Silence fell and all I could say was: “Well, none of us are quite sure what to say next.” Maybe you had to be there.

My point is: you may believe you have future; your sense of hope disappeared somewhere during the most recent meds change (or was it the one before that?); as you walk through your home, each object presents a temptation to maim or punish yourself which must be resisted; you spend hours crying on the floor with wet hair because you haven’t had the energy to dry it since showering; yet somehow, every time, you can find something to laugh about.

So if today’s a really bad day for you (and it may well be! That’s fine) then I trust that you might be open to that little something which is joyful. I don’t mean that in a cutesy “oh goody, a unicorn just pooped a rainbow on my lollipop” sort of way; even something as black as “fantastic, I had been about to stab my thigh with the fruit  knife, but I’ve just stubbed my toe and have to ice it. Typical: just my luck.”

And if you’re really stuck, read this – sure put a smile on my face.

How do you find joy during tough times?

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