I learn so much from books I love. I gave a talk again about Mental health and recovery to some students at Tafe the other day. Each time I do this I love it more. It’s such a treat to have the floor for a little while, to talk about freedom and loneliness and love – all the things we so rarely talk about in mental health, all those things so critical to our lives. I draw upon such a wide collection of information, psych textbooks, biographies, my own experiences and those of other people I’ve met or supported, and so often, fiction. Good writers understand life deeply and they write about it in ways that are just as useful in helping to answer questions about life and people.
I’ve just finished re-reading The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, by Patricia A. McKillip, one of my favourite authors. There’s a beautiful passage in it that resonated with me. I’ve heard a few people lately struggling with how to rebuild lives that have been taken apart by grief or illness. This is a gentle place to start:
I do not know anymore… I cannot care. It seems I have heard a dream, except that – no dream could hurt so deeply or be so endless. Maelga, I am like weary earth after the killing, hardening winter… I do not know if anything green and living will grow from me again.
Be gentle with yourself…Come with me tomorrow through the forest; we will gather black mushrooms and herbs that, crushed against the fingers, give a magic smell. You will feel the sun on your hair and the rich earth beneath your feet, and the fresh winds scented with the spice of snow…Be patient, as you must always be patient with new pale seeds buried in the dark ground. When you are stronger, you can begin to think again. But now is the time to feel.