Herbalists diary: on doing nothing

I'm listening to a podcast about insanity and mental illness. The stories in it are making me smile. But as I smile, I look up and catch the eyes of a stranger, and they look at me as if to say, are you crazy?

Smiling without a perceptible cause to the observer is seen as a potential sign of madness in england. I wonder if we are especially vigilant for signs of madness in built up areas like London. We wouldn't be wrong in doing this. I heard on the London news the other day that people are much more likely to have psychotic episodes in London than the countryside #.

But what is madness? Is it really something we can observe from afar in a stranger? Or is madness just behaviours we don't think acceptable in society? Do we reject these people from society because they are so clearly showing us emotions and behaviours that we feel so uncomfortable with having ourselves? The things we have learnt to control and avoid or just outright ignore. 

This podcast observes that the insane are often at their worst when with family. As it turns out, closeness makes us worse at healing. When we love someone we are more inclined to care too much and try too hard. Our efforts are suffocating.

I can't heal my husband's sore shoulders, I can't fix my dad's heart, I can't make my mum exercise. I'm too close to them. So when it comes to these people I try not to even think about herbs or dietary advice (something which is like a reflex reaction in my mind). I just try to hear what they are saying and repeat what they're saying back to them. I say "that's shit" with no other advice unless, (and this is a big caveat) they ASK me for it. The most pushy I get is to say "have you considered this option " because sometimes they just don't know options exist. I'll be able to recommend where they can do their own research but I won't give them herbs unless they ask me.  

Sometimes I think this comes off as weird and cold but it's really a reaction to an experience I had earlier in life. When I was a teenager I had a relationship. My first love. An all consuming relationship. As I was falling for him he told me part of his depression was caused by me teasing him when we were younger. Classic flirting technique for an 11 year old. But, for him, this intermingled with his other life situations and tumbled him in to depression. I felt that if I could turn around the damage I'd done, all of his depression could be cured. To enable this, everything in my life, was for him. I doubled my journey to school so that I could pick him up and accompany him to school. I thought this would help him with the anxiety he would get every day on the way to school. I'd also stay up all night on the Internet with him so he didn't feel alone. I even spent a, once in a lifetime, family trip to America anxiously calling him to see how he was (the answer was always, terrible) from pay phones and my dad's mobile at every chance I got. (I wracked up a bill of a few hundred pounds.) Needless to say I can't recall most of the fun things we did that holiday. I can only remember the phone calls and constant fire fighting.

I tried to cure him. But the only person that can cure anyone, is the person themselves.  

I think this life experience gives me a unique approach to "being a healer", a weird sort of confidence which comes from my deep knowing that I'm not the one that helps you get better. You are. The only people I can't work with are the people who want me to do it all for them. I couldn't do it even if I wanted to. When you see me as a patient you have to know that I'm not going to get you better. You are.