The key to mental well being is the top secret fact that raisins squeak when you squeeze them. Try it. Perform this operation in public for maximum effect: Take a raisin and place it veeerrrry close to your ear. Squeeze it veeerrrry gently between your fingers.....Listen veeerrry carefully......Did you hear it?....Try it again.....Hear it this time?.....You did, didn’t you? That little dried morsel whispered a teeny tiny squeak at you, didn’t he? Now, chuckle smugly to yourself as you observe ignorant onlookers gaze in awe and confusion. Welcome thee to a brand new era, for your life has irrevocably altered.
That’ll be £350, please.
Let me explain. I’ve been reminded of this allegedly revelatory information by recent events. We’ve just got back from a much-needed mini-break and yet I'm still feeling stupidly low. We stayed in a hotel which was extremely child friendly - they COOK for your child and provide everything from BIBS to VALIUM (ahem) and they CLEAN UP and they don’t give you evils when your child banshee-screams the elegant period house down over not being able to skin the resident dog. It should’ve been perfect and superficially it was. We merry three laughed a lot. We cuddled a lot. We put our son in the creche a lot. We had family time without having to constantly forward think or plan what to do next or cook next etc. etc. I actually didn’t once gaze yearningly at the clock begging it to go bloody faster when 6 o’clock zimmer-framed its way towards us. BUT, in my twisted world, holidays are just another good excuse to roll around in a muddy puddle of guilt....did I enjoy the holiday enough; did I properly feel it; was I properly there; did I really absorb every minute? I have this real problem with living ‘in the moment’ - I seem to float above what’s happening. I can’t stop my brain worrying or being distracted or just feeling absent. I spend most of my time angsting about how soon the holiday will be OVER...even on the first day.
Anyway, I know this lack of engagement or present-tensedness can be a symptom of depression and have tried various methods from yoga to meditation to try to tether my floating thoughts. After a couple of classes contemplating how distressingly close to the floor my stomach was hanging during the Downward Dog or repeating ‘bored, bored, bored, bored...shit, focus.....bored, bored,bored...I’m SHIT at this’ to myself, I’d sheepishly sneak off never to darken the doors of enlightenment again. Deciding that my main issue was lack of commitment, I invested THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY POUNDS in a ‘mindfulness’ course. It taught a method called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which uses a mixture of active and not so active meditations and CBT. To cut a long, frustrating story short, I missed most of the classes because either my son was ill, I was ill, my husband-to-be was working late, or I was too depressed....oh...and because I turn into a belligerent, giggly teenager in the presence of any form of authority or any school-like context. Basically, my conclusion was that I’d benefit more from sleep than trying to meditate any day. During the few classes I did manage to attend, however, I learnt that Cockoomba is an often sadly neglected alternative pronunciation for Cucumber (according to our unidentifiably-accented teacher) and the aforementioned fascinating raisin fact. (The raisin lesson came when we were trying to learn to focus on our senses again, rather than just ruminating continuously.) I was also recommended a very useful book, The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness. Despite its annoyingly hippy-shit title, it’s about mindfulness techniques based on solid scientific research. Some of them can prove pretty handy. I think they’re useful if you’re at the stage where you’ve pulled yourself up from the floor onto your knees, but if you’re still entirely horizontal, you may find it hard to find the mental strength to be bothered. I might go into more details of useful mindful stuff in later posts if I can find a way to make it sound less annoyingly preachy and nobby. But, for now...In short, raisins can talk. That is all.