Thinking can kill you

The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.

John Milton


I am always baffled by reactions of anger to news of a suicide. I can recall a work colleague once hurling books and papers around her desk when she’d heard that a friend’s friend’s uncle had killed himself. She didn’t even know him.

As someone who has experienced such desperation, my own reaction is one of deep sadness and empathy. It’s not hard for me to imagine what the person might have been going through, and why he or she might have taken such steps.

To be trapped in your own negative thoughts and emotions is indescribably painful. Unlike a bad physical experience, you can’t walk out of your own mind. The bad experience is happening inside you, and there doesn’t seem to be a way out.

Not that long ago, I found myself awake at 3.00am worrying about a mysterious stomach ailment I’ve acquired and its affect upon my life. After an hour or so of hideous, grinding ‘thought’ I suddenly ‘came to’, as if from a dream, and realised that my thoughts had been dragging me deeper and deeper into a mental, and physical, quagmire.

‘You’re no good, you’re pathetic, you’re weak, you’re not normal…etc’

This cycle of ugly self-criticism was like a coil, pulling my mind and body tighter into itself. I could feel the negative emotional energy in my chest, my neck, my limbs – a heavy, dark static.

Becoming aware of these thoughts and sensations is the key to overcoming them, but it isn’t always so easy to do – and it’s certainly not easy to remove yourself from them when they have become your ‘reality’.

The origins of depressive thoughts are many and varied – rejection, divorce, death of a ‘loved one’, disablement, sickness, losing a job, financial mismanagement, an accident. Sometimes there may not even seem to be a specific reason for being depressed.

Over time, these depressive thoughts acquire an emotional force, and together they form a bundle of negativity that lives inside you, and emerges as though a dark cloud when triggered by the ‘right’ situation or sensation. This ‘trigger’ could be anything – a memory, the actions of a partner or work colleague, or something you saw on television.

This negative force can even seem to arise without provocation – suddenly, you’re overcome by feelings of self-loathing or anger or deep sadness! Where did it come from?

During my 3.00am ordeal, I’d started worrying about a stomach sickness, and within an hour, had turned the situation into a fully-fledged assault on my self-worth. What sort of day would I have had if I hadn’t realised what was going on?

Realising that you can step back and observe your own thoughts is a revelation, but it’s only the first step to finding your way out of the void of negative body-mind experiences.




The Ibis Threat

In a scene reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, a dozen dirty white birds with long blade-like beaks have taken over a small suburban playground. Children don’t play here anymore – they’re too scared.

And while such scenes might be expected in the mountains of New Guinea or the Amazon jungle, this is suburban Adelaide. Growing numbers of these birds have been spotted across the metropolitan area, from Semaphore to Aberfoyle Park.

In Hillcrest last week, a seven-year-old had his lunch taken by a gang of five birds. While in Modbury, a flock of over 30 birds disrupted a church picnic with unruly behaviour and loud squawking.

But what are they? Where have they come from? And what do they want from us?

‘The Sacred Ibis is common across eastern Australia,’ explains Professor Badger-Smith from Coca-Cola® University. ‘But they’re usually found in estuaries and wetlands, not urban areas. And they’re generally timid creatures that avoid human contact.’

Tell that to Aldo Luring, a pensioner from South Plympton. He was returning from a trip to the local TAB when one of Professor Badger-Smith’s ‘timid creatures’ snatched the war veteran’s beanie, leaving a savage scratch mark on the man’s forehead.

‘This is a mutant strain of ibis,’ suggests Hugh Smirch from the Limp River Wildlife Park. ‘Could be global warming, biochemical testing or even alien experimentation. We’ve got a dingo at the Park with three tails – one coming out the top of its head. You can’t tell me aliens didn’t have something to do with that!’

The man with the most chilling explanation for the urban ibis – or ‘urbis’ – is Dr Frank Drell, a geneticist whose book Genetic Engineering For Fun And Leisure was a New York Times bestseller.

‘This type of development is not uncommon,’ says Dr Drell. ‘A relatively harmless species comes into contact with humans – eats human food, watches humans play sport – and begins to take on human characteristics. There are hedgehogs in Sweden that can understand the most complicated mobile phone contracts.’

‘Unfortunately, the animal doesn’t always take on the most appealing human traits,’ he adds ominously.

Indeed, some inner city ibis have been seen queue jumping at city bus stops, while still others have been caught putting recyclable material in with regular garbage.

‘Every ibis in the country should be put on a boat and sent back where it came from,’ declares Independent MP, Olly Swine. ‘There’ll be no queue-jumping in Oliver Swine’s Australia!’

While politicians and scientists debate the ibis issue, nothing is being done, and ever-increasing numbers of birds are gathering in our playgrounds, restaurants and discount pharmacies.

We can only hope it won’t be too late before action is taken.

If you see, hear or smell any anti-social ibis behaviour ring 1800 IBIS HELP immediately.

Max Funt Reporting.