“In the Universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between them, there are doors.” —William Blake
Psychiatrist Daniel Siegel explains how the brain is like a folded hand. A fist. The thumb against the palm represents the limbic regions, brain zones dealing with emotions, stress. The folded fingers are the cerebral cortex, which help with rational thought and regulating moods. The fingernails are the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain used for decision making, ethics, and morality. All these zones work together as a team. Faced with panic, the fingers spring up, we lose rationality, ethics, and are left with our emotions. We often rely on our basic instincts: fight, flight, or freeze. We may feel disorganized, unable to concentrate or make decisions, suffer from mood swings, frustration, and bouts of adrenaline. The trick is to find a way to bring those fingers down. Keep everything connected.
We’ve been in confinement in France for over two months. Here in Brittany, under lockdown, when I’m not writing or online lecturing, I’ve been working as a clinical arts therapist. Three days a week, I leave the cherry tree blossoming in our garden and head along empty roads to a psychiatric hospital. On the car seat to my right is the file I dutifully compiled the first day of confinement. It contains my regulatory paperwork, proving my right to leave my house, forms ticked and completed: name, date of birth, address, hour of departure, arrival. A photocopy of my passport. A stamped document from my employer. Everything is signed.