Zen and the art of mental health maintenance


. Having just moved house and living in a sea of boxes, bulging eyed, grumpy and biting everyones head off David made the very bold suggestion that I go and do something for myself. As my cricked neck turned my head to glare at him I knew he was worrying  whether he was about to get an earful, when I realised as my heart was fit to burst out from under my t-shirt he was right, if I didn’t want to spend the rest of my natural life wandering around being known as the grumpiest woman on the planet something had to be done. So I phoned up and booked myself in for an aromatherapy. On arrival I was asked all sorts of questions are you married, do you smoke, have you any children? As I sat looking increasingly confused as to quite why the details of my life up ‘til now were in any way relevant to getting a back rub. But the girl just smiled serenely as I snapped ‘what the hell difference does it make if I have kids or how old they are?’ This reaction probably gave the girl all the information she needed…she was dealing with a woman who was stressed out and clearly in need of a good slap but in absence of violence as a recognised alternative therapy – in this place anyway – she explained in an equally serene way all the questions were relevant when it came to her blending and mixing the essential oils in order to return me from hunched up snappy bitch to calm and languorous nice person.  Mmmn, I have to say as I reluctantly disrobed and clambered under the two towels draped over the treatment bed I was just a little cynical.  It seemed a long time as I lay face down with my face through the wee hole  in the bed so you can lie flat as a pancake without suffocating until my calm aromatherapist glided back into the room and dimmed the lights. Oh dear what now I wondered as all the blood ran to the front of my face and I could feel my temples throbbing. Then I heard the click of the tape recorder going on as some whale noises (or maybe that was just me) and light tinkling music permeated the air.  Had I been with a friend it would have been about now that I began to snort with laughter but as all I could see was the most attractive carpet through the hole in the thing I was lying on I kept a straight if not very red face. The therapist thendropped some oil with all sorts of wonderful smells on my back and set to work. Well within 3 minutes my cynism had given way to a feeling of deep calm and relaxation. My brain which had been plotting 4000 different things I had to do was suddenly in a flat line.  The odd involuntary groan emanated from my mouth as the therapist did her magic and one by one seemed to untie the numerous knots which had been crinkling me up into a petulant bag. It was about this time I must have passed out as the next thing I remember was the soft voice of my benefactor whispering ‘I shall put the lights up a little and just get up in your own time there is no rush’. 10 minutes later she came in to wake me up again and I did my best to elevate my totally relaxed body from the bed. Fantastic! I praised her, asked her name so I could book her again, apologised for being cranky and churlish when I had first come in and asked if I could adopt her. She smiled still serenely as if to say ‘told you so’ which normally would have annoyed me but now I just smiled serenely back as I handed her a cheque.

So off I drifted deciding to walk home as suddenly I was in no rush.  I sauntered through the streets and at one point thought I felt spots of rain, but I didn’t run for cover hey it was just a couple of drops of rain and so I meandered on. As I approached home I walked up to the door which Dave threw open and promptly burst out into near uncontrollable laughter.’what is it?‘ I beamed happily

Go and look in a mirror he said and I did.

The red rim of the hole I had been balancing my face against upside down for the past hour was imprinted deeply round my chin, forehead and cheek, my hair was standing on end at the front, my make up had slipped down 3 inches from my eyes and last but not least it transpired it wasn’t rain I had felt on my head but to put it delicately the deposit from a bird’s bottom  who had obviously had a curry the night before. As I stood slack jawed in front of the mirror Dave came in behind me still laughing loudly  and said ‘ you know it’s very lucky if a bird shits on your head’. At which point, proving aromatherapy must work, rather than saying ‘yes well watch it cos I’m a bird and I  might just fulfil that prophecy’ I too started laughing and laughing and laughing until the rest of my mascara had run down m


Writer & broadcaster.

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