My first encounter with the word "loss" this week was going to see Ruby Wax and her friend Judith Owen in Losing It at the Menier Chocolate Factory; a brilliant and brave two woman show sticking two fingers up to the stigma that remarkably still surrounds mental illness in the 21st century. On the poster it said "at some point in our lives one in four of us will be affected by mental illness. Bring three friends..."
We were a straight two out of two and as we laughed through Ruby's pain and somewhat self-indulgent revelation about being overcome by a "tsunami of depression" at her daughter's sports day, and were reminded that when it comes to the mind, there is very little safety in numbers. As Ruby's scripted recounting of her unscripted ordeal wandered slightly off course, I contemplated how Charlie Sheen's colourful and unbridled soliloquy - aka "The Cock Monologues" - had become global entertainment.
Panning the auditorium for familiar faces, what I recognised was a common empathy for loss; the socially awkward loss of acceptable self and the real need to lift the stigma that still associates the loss of mind with the loss of face. This stigma usually comes in the form of tainted sympathy that is specifically reserved, it seems, for sexually transmitted diseases and mental illness. Given his penchant for the ladies, Charlie Sheen could be in socially dangerous water!
The next day dramatic events in Japan unfolded to reveal unimaginable loss and devastation of a more tangible nature. I watched in horror as the tsunami washed away life and all that is familiar. We also moved house this week and as is often the case, several sentimental items have been lost. In normal circumstances that would have been a big drama, but in light of the week's losses, I feel more than ever that nothing that I used to think mattered actually matters. As boxes and boxes of crap were unloaded around me, I realised that aside from the people I love, all that I have is totally worthless; a sentiment ebay has since confirmed.
Oddly, with the stress of the move and the sadness of world events, I have had no appetite for proper food but stuffed my face with Walnut Whips and other refined sugar high carb nasties, and in this week of loss I have gained enough pounds to have to wear my zip respectfully at half mast.
I am typing this from the shallow end with one eye on the people whose lives have literally been washed away and I feel overwhelmed by a tsunami of shame and empathy.
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