Hello and welcome. Come in and take a seat. No one's sitting on that island sized pudding shaped, pillow topped lounge. Throw yourself down. It's set to an almost imperceptible vibration, exuding an obscure aromatherapeutic sea scent subtly suffused with sandalwood. It won't bite. Nor will I.
What's brought you here tonight? Bad TV? Family tension? An addiction to trolling, a compulsion about an allure of the thing that will ignite you.
I have nothing like it to offer, besides a simply waxed lyric about my ordinary life.
Yesterday I had lunch with a human who is wise and whose brain I like to pick over like a bower bird. Let's call her Barbara. We discussed others who've lead exciting lives, have degrees of fame and stories worthy of at least three kilos of limes under a decent spot light, unlike we lady luncheonettes, at least as yet.
This segue, having no other purpose but transition, leads to this blog's central theme, story telling.
What is a story's life well led? What comes first the person or the situation?
Dear blog reader, you are reading something that isn't a story at all. You might have desisted after the first paragraphs and yet I still address you. This reflecting the import and nature of stories. Am I toying with you or myself?
What constitutes a story worth reading? Certainly not a chain of exciting, adventurous events, if there is no moral or heroic attainment. Surely a message explicitly rendered or inwardly launched by the reader. Maybe a toyed with desire activated by the protagonist desperate but constantly thwarted, terribly beguiling efforts, promised, lost, reignited, foiled and finally redeemed. But what about stories infused with erroneous social discourses that draw us up and away, like an alien abduction that we'd rather resist if it wasn't happening in our dreams, but yet it did.
Today I attended a 'telling your story' forum for people who have an experience of mental illness. Dunno if you've noticed, but most stories about people with this type of illness are characters who are necessarily equipped with axes, have substituted words for screaming, laughter, gibberish, who smell like urine and are drenched by their own drool. My daughter noticed once, when we were travelling to Sydney that I had dribbled on the pillow propped against the window. I guess that explains everything.
I have a diagnosis of Major Depression and Anxiety. I couldn't be violent to stand up for myself. Some of my work colleagues have diagnoses for illnesses that sometimes cause psychosis, and they wouldn't know an axe handle from a broom stick.
Today's workshop was about telling stories, our stories, so that people hear a new perspective. Here's one:
"After two months of treatment in an acute psychiatric ward, I was a last well enough to have my small children visit. I'd missed them terribly and was very excited. The nurse thoughtfully organised a comfortable and neatly furnished room. She asked if I would like soft toys, paper and crayons so that my kids would feel welcome. It was a wonderful visit; the kids were obviously relieved to know that I was getting better. I was so buoyed up and hopeful that I'd be going home soon. After this I kept getting better, and my kids visited often. .............NOW. I will tell you what really happened. ........ After two months of treatment for bipolar disorder in an acute psychiatric ward, I was at last well enough to have my small children visit. I had missed them so terribly much, and was very excited. The psyche nurse came to see me, an hour before their visit and told me that my mood was 'heightened'. Of course it is, I said, I'm in a great mood because I'm seeing my kids today. The nurse insisted that my heightened mood was dangerous and that I should take a sedative. I knew that sedation would render me incapable of being present with my kids and that this odd state would be confusing and upsetting for them. I said no. I refused to take the sedative. My refusal was seen as non-compliance. The visit was called off. I was put in isolation and forcibly given a sedative. I was kept there for seven days and during this time my mood plummeted into a dreadful life obscuring depression. The progress I'd made in recent weeks was undone. I spent another awful month in the psychiatric ward, worrying about my children whether life could ever improve."
Here's another one. "Once upon a time, there was a girl who suffered for twenty-five years with the most awful bouts of depression and social anxiety. Those who noticed ignored her, assuming she that was annoyingly aloof. When she asked doctors for help, they told her she should try harder, even though she was striving every day just to stay alive. They were happy to prescribe antibiotics for her brother, an asthma treatment for her sister, and a plaster cast for her friend's broken arm. And yet nobody responded to obvious signs as she hung on through critically unwell, life threatening periods. Until one day, by fluke, a clever doctor showed an interest in the girl's humanity and simply inquired about what she was experiencing. This doctor bestowed a diagnosis and a tablet. That little tablet provided a perfect synthetic substitute for the chemical her brain neglected to produce. At long last, the girl could express herself socially, pursue a career and discover that life was worth living. She is living mostly happily ever after.