The Insanity of Normality

What’s the line between ‘mad’ and ‘mentally ill’? I don’t know if I’ve posed this before but it was something that I started thinking about today during rehearsals. A lot of people started using the term ‘mad’, as in ‘let’s act mad!’ And I wasn’t sure if I should be saying something… perhaps getting offended? I’m still not.

Where do we as a society draw the line between things such as ‘eccentric’ ‘mad’ and ‘mentally ill’?

The difficult part, as I think I’ve discussed before, is that these are all subjective concepts. There can be no true, scientific, quantifiable way of determining who is mentally ill. Screw all of your depression questionnaires and crap like that, it just can’t be measured in that way.

We’re brought up in a society that tells us how we should be behaving, and how we should feel and what we should look like and how we should behave… and when we begin to differ from these norms we’re seen as weird, different and wrong.

I think that our world is a little bit fucked- I mean, what is fashion? Why is it unacceptable for me to do certain things? Why does society expect me to wear make-up and take pride in my appearance? Why do I have to spend my time in pubs and clubs and drink alcohol? And why the hell am I seen as weird when I don’t do those things?

I can understand that some people have problems, to my mind something becomes an issue (or an ‘illness’) when it starts to place barriers on someone’s life and when it becomes a source of distress. Though I suppose with that you could argue that modern living is an illness, we could become so distressed about standing out and being seen as odd that is has a severe negative impact on our lives.

I do a lot of things that are ‘eccentric’, they’re things that I wouldn’t let other people see for fear of being seen as odd, but they’re not things that have a negative impact on my life. They’re just little habits and preferences that I have cultivated over the years.

I hate ‘normal’, it’s just wrong; it causes problems and issues and it’s just not bloody worth it. Why isn’t it normal to eat or do other activities alone? Why should single people be confined to their houses to sit and brood? Why is it weird to be a woman who doesn’t want children? Why should I love the sunshine and hate the rain? Why should death frighten me?

Screw being normal. I’m happy being me.

’til next time,

Wren x

Morrigan

Or: What’s the point in worshipping a God who is not omnibenevolent?

For those of you who are not au fait with Celtic mythology, Morrigan is a fierce Goddess who flies above the battlefields in the form of a crow, she is the Goddess of war, death and sovereignty. Sometimes seen as a triple Goddess (Badb, Macha and Nemain) she generally takes the form of the crone.

Morrigan is not ‘evil’, she is not ‘bad’; however she is a difficult Goddess. I have never worked with her directly but always have felt a bond to her. I think she is an incredibly powerful Goddess who can be a little ruthless and temperamental. She’s the one that you turn to when you need a job doing, and doing thoroughly- but she’s unpredictable. It’s kind of like setting fire to something that’s dirty when you could have just put it in the washing machine.

So why play with fire? I’ve had a lot of dreams that involve her, she seems to be the one that I call out to when everything has gone horribly wrong. Although she is tough, she’s still got feeling. This is why I don’t want to worship a deity that is omnibenevolent; how can something like that truly understand the complexities of the human mind? We are not good creatures, we are selfish and jealous and difficult. We do things that are awful all of the time… why would I worship something who couldn’t understand that?

Last night I had a dream that I was trapped in a house filled with dark things, I was with a group of people that I loved and cared for and I knew that I had to clear the house out so that we could leave. I bravely walked through the house, first calling out for Brighid; at once the house lightened and lifted- the darkness seeped back into the corners for a while and stayed there… but it didn’t go completely. I called out for Dagda next, this did nothing… (I love Dagda so much, but sometimes he just doesn’t cut it.) It was at that moment that I knew what I had to do… I called out for Morrigan to help me. At once there was a blinding flash of light and I found myself somewhere else entirely. That dream had ended and another was about to begin.

I worship Gods who are not perfectly good because they can understand my problems, and I can understand them. They are powerful, intelligent and incredible beings… but they are still not the wholly good creatures that traditional religion would have you believe in, and for that, they are perfect.

Blessings,

Wren x

 

I Think I’m Starting a Theatre Company…

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how I didn’t want to be an actress; so I thought I’d write another one about exactly what I DO want to do with my life!

It’s not really much of a puzzle, I’ve just only thought about it recently. A while ago I was talking to a woman who, on paper, had exactly the career that I wanted. She’d trained as a classical actress at a prestigious drama school, joined the RSC and been a great Shakespearean actress. It was as I was talking to her that I realised that I didn’t actually want that.

It was a strange revelation, and a moment that I’ll probably remember for a long time. It was the start of a series of turning points for me.

A little while after that I did my street performance; ‘Labels’ that some of you kindly helped me get ideas for. It was after this that I came to a realisation… THAT was what I wanted to do with my life! I’m starting to think about putting together a theatre company, based in the North of England creating pop-up, issue based theatre. I want to do my performances on street corners and market places- in shopping centres and bus stations. In short, I want to bring theatre with a strong message to the people.

Obviously this isn’t an easy career, but it’s something that I’m totally passionate about. The response that I got from the trial run of ‘Labels’ was overwhelming, it absolutely knocked me sideways. I’ve recently got permission to take ‘Labels’ to the Edinburgh Fringe festival… that’s right, I’ll be taking my clothes off in the name of raising awareness of mental health between the 10th and 17th August around Edinburgh.

At the moment I’m still searching for a name, I’ve had a few ideas but I’ve yet to try them out. I want to merge my love of creating with my love of performance and my passion for issues such as mental health. The beauty of what I do is that it has very little cost and it forces people to listen.

If I was doing this sort of thing in a theatre then I would only get an audience of people who cared about mental health issues; those people- whilst being amazing and wonderful- are not the thing that I’m trying to tackle. The issue is people who don’t care, who want it shoved under the carpet. When I’m stood a few metres in front of them it forces them to think about it.

So there we have it… it’s in writing, I can’t take it back now… Wren is making theatre for northerners!

’til next time,

Wren x

 

Mood Swings

It’s been kind of a rough week.

I don’t cope well under lots of stress and pressure, and at the moment things are being piled on me left, right and centre. I have no time to sort anything out- I work/am at my course 6 days out of the 7 and the last few weeks I’ve lost my only free day due to various bastards being arseholes.

I’m having a physical reaction too; my legs have patches of eczema and I’m getting mouth ulcers. I’m finding it hard to sleep and I’m stressing all of the time about everything.

On Tuesday last week I just sort of melted into a little puddle, I think I cried for about three hours, I just felt so crap and rubbish- actually, it was more than that. I felt numb, which is how I feel when I’m depressed- and so I freaked out completely.

Sometimes I look into the future and I see pain. Just pain, no hope or happiness- all I can see for the rest of my life is dull, grey pain.

It’s really scary to be in that position; because you’re left with only to choices- one is the bleak future that you can see set out in front of you, where every day hurts so much that you feel like you’re eternally drowning- the other is to end it all. And that’s terrifying.

I think that people who kill themselves are brave. You can say whatever else you like about them, but to have the courage and strength to go through with taking your own life is a bloody brave thing to do.

I don’t want to give up on this life, no matter how bleak it feels- and part of me thinks that’s just because I’m not brave enough to take my own life. I honestly don’t know if I could, I never like to make statements like that about myself because I know what I have done in the past; I know that when it comes down to it I can do things that I didn’t think I was capable of.

The stress of the last week kept making me flicker from numb to emotional. I found myself feeling nothing and then crying my eyes out for a few hours. I had some incredible support that made that time bearable, and I’m more thankful for that than I can ever express.

’til next time,

Wren x

 

Midsummer

It’s been a long, strange week for me; those of you watching my blog will have noticed that. I’m going to gently get back on the bicycle with a little post on Midsummers.

Midsummer is the point when the daylight reigns, we experience the longest day and the shortest night. In The Northern hemisphere this is around the 21st June, in the Southern it’s around the 21st December.

I like to stay up all night with a candle burning (as I’m doing right now) and watch the darkness. It’s an inspiring and moving experience that I feel allows me a connection with my Gods unpolluted with the busy world outside my window. It’s the only time I get when I can’t hear cars or people and I’m hit with a wave of awe regarding the world.

I have always strongly felt that the night-time does not belong to us. We’re allowed to reside in this world during the day but as soon as the daylight fades we’re pushed out. The night is the time of the otherworld, it’s a time when the spirits and other creatures are in charge. To me, being awake during the night always feels a little like trespassing on foreign land.

The sky looks a little green in the distance right now, and as the last dregs of sunlight fade away over here in Yorkshire I’m looking forward to reflecting on the last year that has passed.

I strongly remember this time last year, I had a wonderful night with my Gods- Midsummer last year was the start of a year that I feel changed my life. I sit here now a totally different person (in a good way) the last year has been tough, I’ve grown a hell of a lot as a person and made decisions that will shape the rest of my life. I love the woman that I am now, I feel exhausted, emotional and ready to fall down and sleep for a month- but ultimately proud of what I’ve managed to achieve.

Who knows what life shaping changes will happen in the next year, but whatever does occur I know that I always have the support and guidance of my Gods to pull me through until the light reigns again.

Here’s to Midsummer; after this we can only look towards and brace ourselves for the darkness that will surely come.

Blessings,

Wren x

Reflections on Depression

I honestly can’t think of anything to write about; I mean, that’s sort of a lie- I’ve got loads of stuff stored away somewhere but it’s late, I’m tired and I don’t want to write an essay right now.

Lately I’ve been worrying. That’s pretty standard for me, I’m a naturally anxious person and so I seem to spend most of my free time worrying about anything and everything. The other day I sat down and cried for a few hours, I don’t know what happened- I just sort of lost it for a little while. All I could see was stress and fear ahead of me and I couldn’t take it anymore.

I’m scared about becoming depressed again; I’m scared about that feeling clouding over me and destroying everything. I could feel it descending on me again over the weekend and that scared me. It’s terrifying to look into the future and see nothing but pain.

I have a lot of things going for me in my life- but part of the anxiety and fear is the worry of losing them. I don’t want that cloud to come back over me. Anyone can get depression, but those who’ve had it once are much more prone to it. I’ve had it several times.

Mental illness opens your eyes, it changes the way that you think and the way that you see the world. It’s like you can suddenly see things that you never knew existed before… but once your eyes are open you can’t shut them again.

Our mental health is something that we take utterly for granted, it’s stupid and ridiculous but we do. We’re never taught that the concept of mental health even exists, we only find that out the hard way when we run into problems with ours.

I will live the rest of my life in fear of mental illness; in fear of the moment when the world closes in on me yet again. It will come, and when it does I will do all that I can to get through it; but I can’t know that I will. According to health professionals I’m a low suicide risk- they tell me that I have a lot of factors in my life that add up to give them this conclusion.

I don’t think I’m going to kill myself; at least, not in the near future- but even I can’t be certain. That’s the point, that’s why mental illness, suicide and depression are so terrifying- because, to a large extent, we can’t predict them.

’til next time,

Wren x