Blogging about mental health is like volunteering to perform your own brain autopsy in public. You can’t control the “Ewwws” and “Awwws” of a global mob, but you can control the amount you are willing to share. It’s an incredibly gutsy public act: to share your “private” business. I’m forever virtually high fiving those who are brave enough to write and speak out, with or without the celebrity status. I’ve always dared myself to sacrifice my “teen insanity” memoirs and hang it out to dry for the rest of the world – but something seems to hold me back.
This blog post was meant to be a typical review on Ruby Wax’s Sane New World at the Hawth theatre – and it still will be (sort of!) But how you can review a show about mental health without writing about it first? Before writing this, I have battled with pages of scribbles, sanitised inked hands, made my swear jar mega rich, abused the backspace button, piled knotted hair and repeated the “Should I? Shouldn’t I?” scenario. I like to think of myself as being “sensible”. Let’s face it! There will always be consequences to what you share online – don’t get me wrong there will be someone out there, mentally screaming “OMG!” whether they understand you or want the juicy gossip. Being slightly career minded, employers/future employers may see this post and think she’s a “live wire“, but I would argue that my past has made me who I am today – and I am proud of who I am! And then there is my family, who I love dearly and I respect their privacy, so I will still tread carefully with this post. But here it goes….
During my teen years, I suffered from depression (resulting in self-harming) and anxiety attacks. Trying and (luckily) failing to commit suicide, I became ungrateful for the life I had. Family circumstances and school pressures swallowed and banished me to spending days in my room. My room was indeed my prison. Sharp objects and medication became my best friends. To quote the cliché, “I was indeed my own worst enemy“. The chain around my ankle read “I want to be the best so f**k the rest”. I guess you could say I always had a love for drama! Reminiscing this is painful practice, but it does verify the vulnerability of the young adult brain.
Ruby Wax spoke about looking through photographs of “depressed” people and noticing their “dead” eyes – something which haunts my childhood photos. A smile masks the frown. The “frizzy” hair armours the face. During my high school years, my art lessons saved me. The photo was for my final project (talk about clashing of colours and a terrible fashion sense….except the beloved Converses!), but look closely at my wrist. Although I wasn’t exceptionally gifted with the pencil or paint, it was the freedom to express and violate the page rather than my body.
To “conquer” the depressive choker, the individual must talk. Ruby Wax certainly made the stage as if we were visiting an old best friend within her living room. I adored Ruby Wax’s set – the astroturfed tree stumps reminded me of the Teletubby Hill, hoping Noo Noo will suck up all of the audience’s tubby custard. Ruby’s exercise ball and her downward dog yoga moves sparkled her comedy gold throughout the show – laughing over the familiar ground of how to get yourself out of the yoga pose. Personally, I have the fear of letting “one” rip in a yoga class – please say I’m not alone in that?! Anyway…….at times I questioned Ruby’s comical nature referring to her depressive state. Should I be laughing at vulnerability? Even the audience’s questions were answered with Ruby’s humorous suggestions, avoiding a floor for a serious debate.
Ruby also performed a calming exercise with the audience (most of us slumped in our chairs, clutching a drink) It was all about recognising your senses to combat stressed situations, such as concentrating on where your feet are positioned, pause, the surrounding sounds, pause and your breathing (gently inhaling and exhaling). Spiritual cleansing or what?
Although the show was incredibly short (or I was enjoying it too much), the highlight of the night was Ruby Wax dancing to Sharika’s “Waka Waka”. With Thamsanqa Jantjie (Nelson Mandela’s Funeral interpreter) as the animated backdrop, it was a hilarious and very random ending to an inspiring show.
Personally, depression and anxiety is something you can never cure, but you can learn techniques on how to acknowledge and tackle it. Thanks to those voices who speak about mental health, including Ruby Wax, I know my past is shared with another’s past, present and future. I just hope we continue to reach and speak out.
Check out Ruby Wax’s Tour here