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Has the image to the left made you curious about what Gill will talk to us about in this post?
Let’s continue where we left off last time, shall we…
A sane reaction to a mad world?
I was a student nurse in the mid-1980s. In our third year of lectures we were learning about the classical theories of psychiatry and different perspectives on the resilience of the mind.
Some claimed that madness is the only sane reaction to the madness of the modern world.
We laughed at the longstanding and ironic joke that it was impossible to tell the psychiatric hospital staff from the patients.
We wondered anxiously whether we would come out of this placement the same as we entered!
I did not.
Those were the last days of the old institutional mental hospitals before the Community Care Act and the mass closure of psychiatric hospital beds in the UK.
My placement at the now demolished remote red brick Victorian Beverley Common hospital, Broadgates was unsettling.
It didn’t help that we were heading into the depths of winter, a long term of the most intensive clinical placement of four days a week.
The only form of transport for the unearthly seven a.m. start, eight miles from Hull City was on a bicycle along dark unlit lanes, and occasionally through the snow!
That season I was jolted quite unexpectedly into the realisation of the fragility of the human psyche.
Here on a “medium-stay” secure ward for females I came across a woman who in the Second World War had experienced repeated air raid sirens.
This had triggered a psychological meltdown and she had been institutionalised ever since, for the last forty years of her life.
Another distressed woman I’ll call Teresa, spent the day pacing the ward, screaming, wringing her hands, repeatedly trying to undress herself and defaecate on the lino floor.
The weekly highlight was her husband’s visit with her favourite bag of dolly mixture sweets.
She was experiencing a regressive disorder. It was tragic to see her strained husband’s helplessness at his wife’s torment.
I found it overwhelming as a twenty-one-year-old girl to comprehend the nature of such human distress.
Ever since that winter, at such a formative time, the realisation of my own vulnerability has been a source of great strength to me.
When we are threatened, we seek familiarity.
This is a basic human reaction in the face of actual danger or distress.
We student nurses placed great importance upon our hot dinners and hospital puddings to break up those interminable twelve-hour dayshifts!
At a few times in my life I have needed and appreciated these simple and ordinary elements of self-care.
This was one of the first of those seasons when a hot meal, a deep sleep, a friend’s listening ear and the prayers of a church family were all critical touchstones.
It took effort to stay on track in the face of the unfamiliar.
I’m talking about avoiding a full-blown fear reaction such as the one I used to experience as a child in a terrifying scribbly line nightmare!
At some point our resistance can break down though.
We know these as emergencies. Invariably everyone around us comes up trumps and makes themselves extremely helpful.
We are reminded that in a crisis, it is normal to need the help of others. However, there are times when the necessary helpers don’t show up.
My mission to Disentangle Genius is a passion to walk closely on your behalf when you may not have fully grasped the potential and vulnerability you carry. In seeking to undo knots it is always better to work up close, working into rather than pulling away from the tangle, so relieving the tension and loosening the mess.
So, The KNOT of MADNESS – sounds like this…… ‘I know! Been there, done that, got the T-shirt’
The seventh and final knot is a very subtle one.
You could almost miss it. Or you could pass it off as insignificant.
It looks the same breadth as the strand of thread itself.
You could think you might get away without untangling it.
Until the strand is caught in a loom or the eye of a needle and will not pass through!
Cycling around and around like a spindle in a repetitious lullaby, you realise after some minutes, months or even years, that you have made no progress.
There are no ravelled bands of wool thickening on the bobbin.
All this time the very first loop has simply slipped around and around the column without any traction!
Rhythm brings relief
The essence of madness is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result!
So, then you must seek to find alternatives, variety and novelty.
Seek to find nuance and degrees of variation.
You may even find yourself seeking distraction and entertainment when your soul is numbed by repetition.
This is a warning.
You need more; you need relief from the false security of routine.
You are falling asleep at the wheel of your lives, sedated, hypnotised by the hum and the spin.
You need the rhythm to escalate rather than merely repeat on the same plane.
You are designed to aspire in ever ascending spirals. Otherwise you continue, deluded or entranced by a plan with no prospect, exercised by empty endeavour and wondering why you feel a sevenfold frustration.
Genius emerges only as you fail, learn and change accordingly!
What maddening cycle must you stop? What new rhythm will you try?
Because when you are maddened by repetition, you desire NOVELTY
Express Rhythm in a continual flow of fruition – only then can you attractively represent the Creator through your Genius
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