Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Boss meets Q his Spiritual Director once more

The Boss meets Q his Spiritual Director once more

      -          Hi Q.

-          Hi Boss…. How goes?

The Boss sits down in the usual comfortable chair in Q’s study and, as ever, admires the icon on the wall beside him.

-          I wont let myself be distracted by that wonderful icon.

Q nods.

-          The thing is now that I am, kind of retired (sucks air threw his teeth noisily)… need another word for retirement, but….the thing is, I feel that I should be offering some kind of care to others, maybe part of a charity or whatever but I don’t want to! And I feel guilty that I could be doing this good work but I wont. I keep coming back to this question but a small voice inside says ‘No’.
-          Hmm, how long has this been going on?
-          For years but when I was working full-time I could resist this without feeling much guilt. Indeed it was part of my fantasy retirement to do such good works but no. And every time I pose the question to myself the answer still comes back as ‘No’… So I guess I have to trust it.
-          Hmm…. And what then?
-          What then (Q nods) (the Boss sucks air in threw his teeth once more)…. Well, it might sound stupid but…..but I feel something is going on for me spiritually which I don’t truly understand – it may not even be helpful for me to understand it just yet…. So I have to be patience but (the Boss grits his teeth) that is hard for me!
-          Have you been there before?
-          (The Boss nods vigorously) Yes I have had moments of deep change in my life and they have taken years to happen.
-          Ah.
-          Yes, years and then it all makes sense. It feels like that I am in the middle of such a change now and just have to have patience.
-          Where else can you be?.... And what helps?
-          What helps?..... Talking with you, friends and family. Making sure that I am not going crazy…. Having some quiet times…. Long bikes and so on.
-          Sounds like you know what to do.
-          Hmm (grumpily) thought you say something like that.
-          Well…. If it true put it to use…. If it does not seem to be so let’s examine it again. Meanwhile keep talking.
-          Yeah (reluctantly).

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Including mine - poem for my sister

Including mine – poem for my sister
My sister was no heroine
She didn’t change the world
She lived a quiet life
In our small home town
I was surprised
By how many people
Turned up at her funeral
Friends, co-workers from the charity shop
She volunteered in for years
She had made many small differences
In quite a few lives
Including mine.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Everyoen the same (poem for my Dad)

Everyone the same (poem for my Dad)

 You were oiling your sewing machine
I watched totally wrapped up
You let me clear away some of the fluff
And it looked brand new
You smiled at me
I had my usual green fizzy pop
At the café at the top of the street
I loved those meals out
And still do
Your factory has gone
And so has the café
And so has my sister
Who learnt how to sew
From you

 Me    I learnt how
To be awkward
To be independent
To treat everyone the same
With no airs and graces.


The anti-psychiatrist David cooper famously wrote “All labels are lethal” referring to mental health diagnoses. I still remain shaken – years later - by how a colleague of mine at the University of Manchester once referred to one of our students as ‘schizoid’. This same student seemed to open up readily and healthily enough when I was empathic with her.

 We should see such labels not as diagnoses but as symptoms. Then consider the causes of these symptoms and the best healing response. So ‘depressive symptoms’ might be caused by low Vitamin D, Iron levels or thyroid functioning and other physical causes. They could be the side effects of medications including anti depressants! So the best GPs do blood tests early on.

 Depressive symptoms could be a sign of a ‘dark night of the soul’ or some other form of spiritual emergenc/e/y. Or perhaps facing a challenging step up in one’s life e.g. leaving home, or someone close to you dying. In these cases talking therapies can help.

 Or a mixture of physical, mental and spiritual. It is no surprise that NICE recommends medication plus talking therapies but try getting that on the NHS!

 Arnold Mindell, the Process Orientated psychotherapist worked with people in comas. He picked up on the often minimal response clients might make to him and worked with that. So if someone is withdrawn and lies in their bed facing the wall you can still be with them and love them. And God help us when it happens to you or me.

 PS To lighten the note. When my nearest came back from a Transactional Analysis course some years ago she decided I was schizoid.  I thought for a moment and said, “No, I am a mystic!”