Sensitivity

Even just reading the word “sensitivity” is enough for some to imagine something needing extra care, perhaps wrapped in cotton wool or bubble wrap. Others may see it as weakness, a flaw, or even something to exploit. Take the phrase “sensitive skin” that needs special treatment as the normal way produces rashes and eczema. So what is like to have sesnitivity as a human trait in reality? Do we really need to take a tablet to block our tears that cry in empathy, such as those this week in Beruit? Do we need a cream to hide the scars we may inflict on ourselves, as ways to show our inner pains, which others think are weakness? Should we feel guilty for feeling anything?

When I was a kid I was frequently told off for being sensitive. The games my brother played were abusive, not fun, his hands touching my neck were strangulation, and his bedroom visits were as unwelcome as his taunting laughter with pointed finger. The girls at school telling anyone new “nobody is friends with Fiona”,to the humiliation for my hair loss with wig blowing off in a windy gust that followed a physical attack. At home watching television going from fine to floods of tears in seconds, sometimes headaches too, due to my empathetic nature wanted to protect the person or animal being hurt or experiencing something highly emotional. Were these really just my fault for being sensitive? Could I simply turn them off as may make others cry, and bring them down too?

The answer is no, and I say it again no. I tried to plug them and be”strong”, but pushing any emotion away just made my depression worse. I felt guilty and hated myself for caring so much. I felt like an alien sent to observe human behaviour, finding it hard to be part of their games as seemed to always end in humiliation, wars and bloodshed. The victor seemed to take great joy in crushing the enemy for being weak. Is human nature really so dark and twisted? We keep animals caged in the belief we are protecting them, but really need the same love and compassion as any living being.

The older I have become, the more I have seen humans treating their fellow humans, and the world around them as though they were their personal trash can. Having feelings is seen as wrong, and who cares as long as I am okay. Some even have god-like complexes and must be seen to make a difference, but hide the fact others are probably doing the real work, and they are taking all the praise, and letting their egos grow with all the praise. Some try to raise the voice of sensitivity, but get pills and hate thrown at them with equal measure. Even trying to give people a true social distance when out walking I get glares of wtf is she doing. I am no sheep following blindly, but respecting to respect the lives of my fellow humans. The wearing of a mask is seen as we are not going to get it, not we are trying to stop the spread of this virus together.

Sensitivity to the world I have learnt is not a weakness. It actually grounds me to it more to the world, and learnt more about hidden truths that way. Trusting my instincts is key. If something feels wrong, I know I need out now! If someone gives a certain energy, do not trust them one iota. Being out with nature, slow down and take my time, there is no real rush. Experiencing life with all my senses, and taking life day by day is how I live. I am not going follow another, take a tablet to block what is a big but of being Fi, just because it uses emotions. I have grown to love and respect that part of me, as helps me to be myself, as well as supporting the world around me with my skills and knowledge too. Hate or laugh at me all you like, but being sensitive is my gift to use and share as I choose.

 © Fi S. J. Brown

Depression

Depression is like being frozen in time and held prisoner in a cage with no bars. Filled with unseen, unheard, unspoken, unreleased and unhealed pain. Therapy can help give it a voice and shape, medication can temporarily numb and allow us to live, but the real difference comes from deep within. We have to defrost, work through it (slowly and sometimes repetitively) and release ourselves. It is not just the shadows that haunt, but repression of causes that may now have grown into forests as never dealt with the roots as saplings.

We still live in a world that encourages us to bury rather than express, manage rather than deal with, and silence rather than speak. This just makes us replay old thoughts like broken records, making enemies with our own being, and unable to move on as becomes lost in the forests of our own creation. There is no golden axe that can chop them down to the roots, but defrosting our feelings so no longer trapped in time, and forgive ourselves so we can be free. No more damming up our emotions as scared of the rivers that may flow from our eyes, let down the flood barriers and open our mouths to speak our feelings aloud.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Summer 2020

Summer is here, and for some of us the summer vacation/holidays have begun. However, this year with lockdown/quarantine the annual break from work has taken a different turn as for most of us it will be spent at home. Some airlines will be flying to take us away, but how many of us will risk catching Covid-19 in so doing?

It is also the time of year when we have adverts to pressurise us to loose weight for fitting into a bikini or swimming costume. The world is full of TV, magazines, and diet talk constantly reminding women of the young, smooth, skinny ideal. Men are not exempt from this either. Some blame on the rise of social media, and the narcissistic selfie culture that the late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld rather accurately aptly described as ‘electronic masturbation’. However, reality tv shows such as ‘Love Island’ brainwash viewers with an idealised version of how both men and women should be in the 21st century. Then there are celebrities and influencers on social media, who edit their images and lives, and so when we do not match they can leave a big hole in our self confidence, self image and mental health, leading to depression and even suicide.

Despite lockdown, the pressure for the impossible ‘perfect body’ for the summer still seems to be in full swing, although much of our normal routines have changed, temporarily to permanently. Also, there have been many jokes about haircuts done during this time as cannot access a professional to do it for us. Equally, some have gained or lost weight as ways to cope with these strange times. I also realise this pressure will keep continuing as people return to their works and routines beyond the summer. Have you seen the Facebook meme entitled “When You Meet Your Friends After Quarantine,” which shows toddler girls baring their admittedly adorable bellies which they bonk together? So how can we be ourselves, comfortable in our own skins, when there is pressure to be something we are not? How do we combat these messages, and the negativity they may bring to our mental health?

It is not easy, but gratitude is a good starting point. Being grateful to our bodies for getting us through another day, and keeping going through an enormously stressful time for all human beings. For some keeping a journal writing five positive things each day about themselves may help, or even sharing them on social media to encourage others to join in. Finally, accepting that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect body‘, in fact in some ways every type of body is their type of perfect. A couple of quotes I like says it all from anon: “The number on the scale does not define your health or your worth” and “Imagine if we obsessed about the things we loved about ourselves.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

 

June 1st, 2020

I reside in one of Edinburgh’s many streets
At the fifty-fourth house I call it my home
A shelter from an uncertain changing world
As a virus holds all its citizens to ransom
No mountains of toilet rolls can protect them
Or pasta shaped cure to be found for now

As the humans are now the caged animals
Venturing out only to forage and exercise
An unmentionable odour of death lingers
But some try to break the rules in blind hope
Meeting in large crowds while the sun shines
Leaving behind litter as a sign of their escape

A second peak lingers on like a dark shadow
The strength to keep fighting is wavering thin
Track and trace with big brother’s little sister
Defenceless against the sleepwalking sheep
Lest we learn any lessons from recent past
And enlightenment is driven into the night

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

Real Dystopian Life

Thinking about the false images and stories that the media and internet are filled with. Where the truth is hidden like the tip of an iceberg we will never see the bottom of; scratch the surface and the only thing we get is a bit cold, but dive down and discover a whole new world exists full of tunnels that once discovered there is no turning back. Back on the surface they are sensationalised and toxic norms that want us to fit into tidy boxes, which make those that don’t question their beliefs and sanity, rather than throw away the boxes we were never meant to fit into in the first place.

Twenty four seven news, advertisements, publicity and entertainment is the diet we are fed direct from the black box in the corner to the black mirror in our hands. How can we tell if it is a promotion for a new film, or a car commercial that looks more like it is selling perfume than something to drive. It makes us scratch our heads and overthink, which results in us remembering the product longer than we thought and even consider buying one as given it that much thought.

With celebrities famous for the slightest thing ready to cling on to the false spotlight above them. Only a few walk away from the false light, because it becomes as addictive as the white powder that they are given to sniff and become locked in contracts they can never escape. Whilst influencers prey on the vulnerable in a bid to try grab that light onto themselves, and begin to believe their worth, which is in fools gold not real money. Filled with toxic smoke and mirrors, which are really best left alone.

We are currently in the midst of a global pandemic, our every day lives have almost stopped with a full stop with the noise of sirens and flashing lights in the background. Those that at the turn of the year were in jobs that were seen as unskilled, have become essential to keeping our countries and world running. As the media plays on and on with updates upon more updates, creating fear and worry, making trying to adapt to this changing world harder and harder. Many feel their comfort blankets have been taken away and replaced with ones of different colours and textures, but are meant to hold on to the familiar faces still there on the black boxes and black mirrors, as though that should bring us comfort.

And so, as I now sit here, staring into the screen of my laptop, finding myself looking at my friend’s latest posts on social media and answering emails from work. None of them seem to offer any real hope or break from the falseness that infected our world long before the virus. The door to the outside are out there, they just forgot to let everyone know they could tune out at any time. My suspicion is that they do not want us to know that we have the key the whole time.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Locked in

Outside windows birds sing so loudly and freely
Inside we are the ones trapped in a cage with no bars
Tunes sweeter than the Easter chocolate now gone
As the bitterness of lockdown continues to bite us

Cloudless blue skies taunt like playground bullies
Making our tears the only water drops that will fall
We caged the animals in zoos and circuses for fun
Now we have been given karma’s gift from Earth

Just how long it will our collective sentences be
With our white mountains now made of toilet rolls
Office pens replaced by bits of penne or fusilli
And the only alcohol left is in the hand sanitiser

Few metallic beasts still roam the empty streets
Counting shrieking ones with flashing blue lights
For we all silently chant “we’re in this together”
But none of us want to ride on that beast’s back

The black box sells us fear in the name of news
As we click off and onto the web no spider made
To a book of the many faces we have ever known
And hide behind a mask that no virus can attack

How can something so small cause so much hurt
Yet we do it too with our words and actions daily
A finger that points now covers our muted mouths
Silencing the hate as the panic grows inside us all

One day this will be just another footnote in history
A human war that waged across the whole world
When a cough becomes less of a threat once more
Will we learn the lessons of 2020 that engulfed us

© Fi S. J. Brown

Coronavirus – Mental Health & Well-being

As many of us are now at or going to be at home for longer periods than usual, maintaining good mental health is as important as washing our hands and physical health.

Here are some tips for maintaining good mental health in these uncertain times:
1. Know what you can control and what you cannot. We do not need to watch television putting fear and scaremongering us. Equally, what we read or watch online can lead to mass hysteria and panic. Take all in sparingly, if at all. There are too many uncertainties that will only lead to anxiety if we let those feelings take hold;
2. Do what makes you feel safe. If that is self isolation due to existing conditions, then do not feel guilty about it, but do not isolate due to depression (I’ve been there and it’s not a path to follow). If sharing silly pictures on Facebook that helps then do so, as we can all use the laugh, but remember humour can be objective too so do not use it to turn to xenophobia or racism;
3. Get some fresh air. The garden can be a great place to focus energy into something positive, and can feel a sense of achievement. Otherwise, try go for a walk, even briefly, get yourself some vitamin D and appreciate there is more positives in the world than negatives at any time;
4. Create something new. It doesn’t have to be a work of art, a Beethoven symphony, or epic novel, but could equally be making a cake or biscuits to eat while working from home. Equally, you can use the internet to discover something new like a new band or author, which you could then download to a tablet to read/listen to;
5. Challenge yourself to stay in the present, which can be hard when worrying about an uncertain future to how much better things seemed only a few months ago. Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences, using mindfulness techniques to help ground you when find your mind drifting off into negativity and hopelessness;
6. Stay connected, and reach out when needed, use social media and telephones to talk to people. Even if in social isolation, this does not mean you can speak or see someone even if it is remotely. It can be a comfort to know someone is there, even if it is just a quick reassurance that they are there.

Do not try to be a hero, a bit like the plane safety demo – only fix another’s mask when you have fixed yours. It’s ok not to be ok at any time, do not feel alone, as we are here for each other.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

Rat in a cage

Rat in a cage
Rat in a wheel
Rat in a race
Like a rat in a cage
Treat me like a criminal
Treat me like a puppet
Treat me like a number
Treat me like a failure
Use me like a tool
Drain me till I’m empty
Leave me out in the rain
Watch me turn to rust
Treat me like an experiment
Just another rat in a cage
Like a rat in a cage
Treat me like I’m prisoner
Leave me until I confess
Blind me til I’m lost
Freeze me until I’m cold
Beat me till I bleed
Grind me until I’m dust
Push me til I break
Wire me until I conform
Treat me like an experiment
Just a rat in a cage
Another rat in a cage
Another rat in a cage
Another rat in a cage
Rat in a cage
© Fi S. J. Brown

To Me (for Valentine’s Day)

Do not feel this day is only for lovers,
Love yourself and forget the others.
Twist from left to right to form a hug,
Or fill tea or coffee in your prized mug.

Stop counting flaws in worried fear,
Self-love is something sing and cheer.
And for all the tears you have shed,
Forgive yourself in whisper to the head.

Flowers and chocolates are nice things,
But a temporary fix for the heart strings.
Embrace your talents and value yourself,
Do not leave them making dust on a shelf.

Know your worth cannot be bought or sold,
And do not follow the path of fool’s gold.
You are free flowing like an endless wave,
An unbound spirit that few grasp or crave.

Embrace not in a passionate lustful kiss,
And fill with inner compassionate bliss.
Your light is bright like the stars at night,
Shine on knowing everything is alright.

© Fi S. J. Brown

A Fakebook of Friends

Facebook – whether we love it or loathe it, is still very much what we think of when discussion is about social media. We add our ‘friends’, at times with the most tedious of connections – you both play ‘candy crush soda’, that lead vocalist in a band you once bought a single of as fancied the vocalist for all of five minutes, the best friend from of thirty years ago at primary school, and our uncle’s dog Henry; giving a whole new definition to the word ‘friend’. However, isn’t the most tedious and fake friend on the entire network Facebook itself? Although Myspace gave us all one friend to begin with – Tom, we are not all automatically friends with or following Mark (Zuckerberg), but the sheer vastness and power of Facebook, has it now become the ultimate fake friend?!

It only takes a few days away from the site to realise quite what a stranglehold it can have on our lives. Although, some cannot go for more than thirty minutes without checking, a few days away may sound like a lifetime! The ‘so called’ friends we have no longer require nurturing or effort, their lives are presented for us to see at the touch of a screen or click of a mouse. If someone ‘defriends’ us it can “oh well their loss” to “why have they defriended me…what did I say/do?”

We end up comparing our lives with ‘our friends’, rightly or wrongly’, and nearly always find ourselves dwelling on the negative aspects. I’m sure some also glee when they read of misfortunes of people they secretly never really liked at high school, as perhaps karma is calling their name. This however can also has a negative impact on our mental health, as see others soar and fly, while we feel confined to a cage (without bars). As we feel we are not good enough, leading to self-isolation and self criticism of our every move and move, as see them through the eyes of this new friend that has taken away our ability to just be ourselves. We crave likes and hearts just to be accepted by others, and some create fantasy lives just to hide the misery, or to seek attention from these 100s of friends we are meant to have, with only one answering us back when we message for help.

So what can we do? The ‘easy’ answer would be delete the app, remove our account, but that is not an answer for everyone. There maybe people we have connected through Facebook that are worth having in our lives, enjoy talking to and seeing what they are up to. Instead, take back our profiles as our own. Posting things we love and hate, if not much is happening in our lives don’t feel we have to update every week or respond to every post that fires us up or makes us cry happy tears. Keep our eyes, and not those of the fake friend that is telling tales behind our back, open – not everything is real just as real life. Be yourself always, your real friends will accept that and be there for you as you would them.

© Fi S. J. Brown