TOTEMS

I look around me, hoping for inspiration. What will I write? How will my day go? I realize I have put “lily pads” all around my world. Little places where I can rest, catch my breath and set the world to rights. These are the knick knacks with which I surround myself. Simple.

To my left, there’s the tiny silver thingamajig that is a silver thong type shoe sandal thingy. Yes, footwear. It is inscribed; it reads “The thong of joy”. It was a gift from a very dear friend who now lives far away. Each day I see that thingamajig and I feel good, I feel joy. I feel I am not alone.

The key is that I use mindfulness to truly see this object. It’s so easy for our world to be somewhere that we just glance at things and don’t really take them in. For totems to work, you have to really notice them.

I further glance and I see I have a block of glass that has pictures of my two sons and my husband somehow miraculously etched into it. A birthday gift that keeps on giving. There they are, the people I love most, trapped in a glass block. I love that they never age.

In my conservatory I have a corner of greeting cards. They are mother’s day cards, handmade, from years gone by. Further along the shelf I have a collection of Buddha statues. Big and small. I love Buddha because he only has the clothes on his back, a small sack and an empty bowl. I love that, as he travels, he trusts that the world will look after him. Seeing him gives me strength.

Photographs, yes I have photographs everywhere. In the bedroom, in my office, in the living room.  Totems that have been given or made in love. I’m easy to buy a gift for. A photograph will get me every time!

My kitchen…Well, my fridge is full of photos. There are more photos than there are fridge magnets. And I often reorganize them, so the new arrangement can be seen with fresh eyes.

Now then, have I told you how much I enjoy doing the dishes? Well I do!  That’s another chapter! How simple tasks, done with mindfulness can really help with anxiety or depression.  Ok suffice to say – I love doing the dishes. We have one, but I don’t use the dishwasher.

My kitchen sink is in a little alcove. An alcove of joy.  I have three shelves surrounding my kitchen sink. They are crammed with totems and talismen that give me strength. There’s the original art work, there’s the statue of two love birds, there’s the musical angel. Every time I do the dishes I am reminded of how much love and joy is in my world. All I have to do is look around.

My friend, who has personality disorder, calls all these articles – distractions. You touch them, you see them, you feel them and they will distract you if you are feeling negative. They are filled with positive energy and they help wipe out anything that is negative. My friend has a box, filled with totems. When he is feeling blue, he takes out his box and goes through its contents. Each item bringing him positivity. He distracts himself for the low mood, or the feeling of being overwhelmed.

So what I suggest you do, is make sure you’ve got totems around your house, in your car, in your office – anywhere you spend time. If you work in an office and aren’t allowed personal items in your workspace – then put your totems in your pocket. For instance, there is nothing like touching a meaningful little crystal in your pocket. It can shift your mood in a minute.

And that’s what we want. We want to inhabit a world that sets us up to battle depression and anxiety. We want to give ourselves a fighting chance. And totems, simple objects can give us the upper hand.

Go on. Try it. Fill your world today.

Have a great day. In Recovery, Me.

About the Author – Kate Hull Rodgers is an expert by experience. She has been mentally ill since 1986, more than 30 years. She is diagnosed as bi polar and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) Every day she battles to be in recovery, many days she wins. She speaks in corporate workplaces with her company www.humourus.co.uk. She has spoken in 29 countries. Also she runs Stepping Stone Theatre for Mental Health www.steppingstonetheatre.co.uk with her husband, Bill- and she is still happily married. Mustn’t forget, she is the proud mother of Harvey and Dominic – and the dog, Zebbie.