Let me tell you a tale about hens and histrionics. For most of the time when I’m at home the hens are roaming free in the yard, but there is one exception. When the buzzing orange machine that is our lawnmower comes out, I shut the hens in their run for their own safety. This has the same outcome every time.
Our garden is quite steep and I always start mowing from the bottom which is furthest from their run. Rita, Sylvia and Doc start making low grumbling noises at this point but the noise and commotion grow as I get nearer to their coop. By the time I’m halfway up the yard they are sounding alarm calls that I’m sure make the neighbours think they’re being slaughtered. They bekerrrk bekerrk so loud I’m sure I must be traumatising them. When I get to mowing around their run they’re stamping around in their coop and screaming that the sky is falling.
And then I finish. Immediately I turn off the dreaded machine they stop calling and I let them out of their run. They casually step out looking for all the world like nothing has happened then blithely start nibbling the grass the same as always.
Once again I see the parallels between our worlds. As a person prone to anxiety I sometimes have days when the alarms are going off in my head so loud that I’m unable to function in the normal way. Over the years I have called these days various things to try and normalise them. I’ve called them ‘duvet days’, ‘jarmie days’, ‘black dog days’, and a few other things that never quite stuck. But now I think I’m going to call them ‘lawnmower days’. Hopefully this will help me keep perspective.
As anyone who suffers from bouts of anxiety or depression knows, when you do mercifully emerge out of the other end it can sometimes be difficult to understand how you could have been quite so immersed in the first place. I spent many years battling suicidal thoughts and now my main concern is that I don’t have long enough left!
These days when I crash my recovery rate is much quicker and I’ve got used to the idea that these thoughts will pass (thank you mindfulness for this if nothing else). I now understand that I’m a passenger on this crazy, beautiful world. I cannot control it or my mind, but I can roll with it, making whatever small contributions I can, until a brighter day emerges. By calling these uber-anxious times lawnmower days, I can now keep in mind my histrionic hens.
On further reflection, maybe I should have paid more attention when I read Chicken Little to the kids.