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A Sense of Space

September 23, 2013

Within the silence it is often said that you can find your true soul. You can touch the center of your very being – but only when you dare to sit within the space of no-sound. Inside this space is emptiness. Deep at its core is the blackness you have been avoiding. It is no wonder that so many of us distract ourselves with busyness, loudness and thunder.

I have now learned distraction. It is a fabulous gift. You weren’t expecting that were you? No, neither was I. The truth of the matter is that when we spend too much time alone, too long absorbed in our own neuroses and feast ourselves to the extreme in space and time with nothing to fill it – we can go mad. Add to this being an orphan (as I am) and having few friends and you really do have far too much shallow time to fill and thus you can drown in your own emptiness. This is not helpful in keeping a healthy, balanced state of mental health. We are social animals and thus, sometimes, we do need company, fun, excitement and yes – distraction. It’s hard work being human, we deserve a day off sometimes. When you have family and friends this day off is automatic. If you don’t – you have to work that little bit harder and be that much more aware (and alert) as to the signs of madness-caused-by-isolation and devise your own methods of stimulation, connectedness and distraction.

If you are aware that you are distracting yourself – where is the problem?

Following any period of ‘madness’, when I have spent too long immersed in my own juices, I emerge back into the world and always feel much better for it. The paradox is that it is only because of the isolation (and resulting ‘madness’) that I can again appreciate the connectedness of being a social animal. It is only following the lull in social activity that I can safely allow people back into my life and again whack up the volume on my stereo. I enjoy the distraction for what it is because I have bloody well earned it. I have also, since having my breakthrough, learned how to DO SMALL TALK. I have capitalised because I am very, very proud of myself for this has been a stumbling point for me for many years – all my conversations had to be deep and meaningful, event-changing and mystical. It is no wonder that I burnt out. Small talk is a gift. When I was in the suicide prevention/crisis intervention unit back in April, it was a rule of the house that service users didn’t discuss their problems with each other (for obvious reasons) and thus all we were left with was small talk. It was fandangotastic. It was also distraction and again – very welcome from the haze of madness and isolation that had taken over my life at that time.

I would like to take this opportunity to say just how supportive, unconditional and sane I found all the service users in the above facility. They were the sanest people I have ever met. I believe the reason for this is that they, like me, had been forced to be who they were, in whichever state that happened to present itself as. We had imploded along with our respective crises and had been left with the only us that truly existed – the real mess that we all actually are beneath the polished surface. I learned a lot in ‘the loony bin’ as I affectionately referred to it and go into far more detail in my book, the book I wrote immediately following discharge. I poured all of my experience, joy, clarity, confusion and pain into fifty five thousand words pretty much as soon as I had moved into my new Housing Association flat. The activity (or distraction) of writing a book (my first full length piece of work) was much needed to take my attention away from the moldy walls, furniture-less rooms and empty kitchen. It worked – the book was finished within six weeks and off it went to publishers.

The book (I am deliberately keeping the title under wraps, for now) re-visits ‘the loony bin’ and, I feel, sheds a completely new light on what goes on within the walls of such institutions and also shines a great big spotlight on exactly what ‘madness’ is. Aren’t we all a bit bonkers?

Bonkers or sane. White or black. Yellow or brown. You are all welcome here.

Until Next Time,

Matt xx


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