The Wicked Witch Of Oz
This page is part of a project undertaken at ReCoCo, Newcastle Upon Tyne
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The Wicked Witch of the Anxiety says:
I'm strong and powerful.
I can make the trees trap you, smother you.
I can make even the fields of flowers into death traps. So there's no point thinking of beauty.
I have whole armies at my command. There's no place you can hide. Not in the past. Not in the future. And especially not in the here and now.
I laugh and whole nations quake. Munchkins cover their heads. Talking monkeys bow and obey. Even the Wizard of Oz is powerless.
I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too. I'll get everything that's important to you.
Watch the sand fall. Each grain one more terrified thought I tell you to think. The last grain leading to your death. And you'll want it so much by then that you'll embrace death as a friend.
She's weak. She's flawed. She does have powers.
She arrives in an instant out of nothingness and overpowers in green, pungent, toxic smoke.
But most of her power is just a show, a sham, a flimsy facade hiding the truth:
She's weak. She's flawed.
She can be killed. And I can become free without the loss of my little soft toy dog.
I can become free and when I do the whole land of Oz will rejoice with me.
I won't be like Dorothy though. I won't apologise for killing the Wicked Witch.
Oh no. I'll celebrate and then I will sleep in peace.
Because she's weak. She's flawed.
All it takes is one small bucket of water.
All it takes is the courage to throw that water. Over and over again no matter how many times new witches appear.
Outside the story.
Of course, it's not a real bucket. It's not real water. It's not even a real witch.
In real life a bit of water won't cause anxiety to die, screaming that it's melting.
But I believe there are metaphorical buckets of water.
Bucket number one is the bucket of recognition. Seeing the anxiety witch for what it is.
Bucket number two is giving the witch a label. Looking at the unbidden thought processes to check whether they're real or not.
Bucket number three is learning to step back from the labelled anxious thoughts and choosing a more rational path.
Bucket number four is learning to be kind to yourself, intentionally rejecting the unfair criticisms and embracing what is good in all gentleness.
These are powerful buckets of water. Of course they're not as simple to use as a real bucket. They are skills to be learned, and ideally to be learned before we need to use them. They're also hard work. Nobody should pretend that overcoming an anxiety disorder or a personality disorder that includes a lot of anxiety is easy. Anxiety may be a fraud but it's closer and more dangerous than any green-painted witch.
I learned to use them. Lately I've forgotten about them. They've lain neglected in my mental armoury. The result of neglect is clear.
I need to repair them, pick them up, and start using them again. I learned of these buckets seven years ago. They changed my life. They can change my life again. And this time I'm going to get bigger buckets!
I think it's time to use them to change my life again and this time I shouldn't ever put them down again. As I type this I'm seeking assessment again with mental health services. I think I've recognised a specific condition I have. I was diagnosed with it once and totally rejected that diagnosis and the therapist who gave it. I can't even remember who that was but today I believe they were right. It's time to look that condition squarely in the face and tell it that I'm in charge. I'm full of hope. Properly treated and with a lot of work this condition can be beaten. I hope the health service sees that too and refers me in the right direction. If not, there are alternatives. This Wizard of Oz project is part of a course run by the Recovery College Collective in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Next month (at the time of writing) they will be running some courses that teach the skills that are part of the treatment I'm hoping for. I plan to sign up for those courses. I plan to recover. I'll put a post about that condition in this Oz project - last week I wrote a quick poem about realising that I suffer with it. Full disclosure, total honesty. No shame. The time for shame is over.
I just hope they're not at a time I can't be there. Because currently on Thursday I'm currently part of a theatre group. On Friday morning I'm part of a small cast preparing a play for performance in October. And on Friday afternoon I'll soon be taking a small writing course connected with those theatre groups. Somehow or other during the last year to eighteen months I've developed some kind of life that's more full than it's been since I was at college. And anxiety can't take that away from me. Yeah, I've got some difficult mental health challenges. But whatever those voices in my head say, I should be proud of how I've managed to develop this life despite them.
The witch says I'll die. The witch says she'll kill me. But does she? No.
I'm going to pick up my buckets of water again.
I'm going to throw them her.
She's going to scream. She's going to melt away.
Oh what a world! Oh what a world!
I will rejoice.
And Oz will rejoice with me singing, “Ding Dong, the witch is dead.”