Tuesday, January 13, 2009


In one of those strange coincidences I'd been thinking about intuition / gut instinct / that little inner voice, for some days now, when a friend posted this quote on Facebook:

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift." ~ Albert Einstein

How true. And how sad. How often have you had an intuition about something or someone, voiced it, and been scoffed at or discredited for expressing it? And how often has that intuition then been proven correct?

I think my Mum is largely responsible for, possibly inadvertently, nurturing my gut instinct, and teaching me to believe in it. One of my strongest memories is of her saying, when I had to make a big decision, often on something we didn't quite agree on, 'I leave it to your conscience.' Powerful huh? Do you know what's really, really weird? She doesn't remember saying that. She has no recollection of it and I remember it, and resonate with it, so strongly that my memory is of her saying it all the time. Bizarre.

When I've told people that she would say that, I've often had people thinking it was quite a harsh thing to say to your child, someone even said they thought it was 'cold' - not a word I'd ever associate with my Mum! But I think it was wonderful, and totally credit those 6 words, and the way they triggered my gut response, with contributing to the basic development of my inner moral and intuitive code. An instinct I now trust and believe in completely, and am so grateful to have, in general, but also while living in a volatile and unpredictable society such as South Africa. You need your wits about you here, and I can think of many times that I believe intuition has protected me from a dangerous situation, or potential threat.

It is said that fear is the greatest threat to intuition, and this is why - and hereby coming to the reason I started thinking about this again - it was really tough for me when I started having anxiety attacks when I was pregnant. Strange hey? Blessed with a remarkably easy and enjoyable pregnancy, I got to about 6 months and started getting the most debilitating panic attacks. No rational reasoning, no 'oh just pull yourself together', just complete breathless, tearful FEAR.

Fear of the dark, the unknown, the future; fear that something would happen to my loved ones, fear when my husband went out at night, fear that the block of flats my brother and his wife were moving into wasn't secure, fear that my parents were on holiday staying in remote cottages in isolated areas - a choking, nauseating fear that was ever present, cold prickly sweat on the back of my neck, tingling in my fingertips, a tense strumming of worry reverberating through me all the time - and the worst part: not knowing if all of these symptoms were my gut instinct SHOUTING at me to listen, to protect my family, or merely just a hormonal over-reaction, a natural pregnancy worry about bringing a new life into a crazy world. And I'd lie awake at night crying and desperately trying to wrangle my thoughts into some kind of cohesion, trying to isolate my intuition from the muddy depths of panic. And I thought I was going mad.

It was bleak but it thankfully didn't last too long. My wonderful, intuitive, gynaecologist recommended an anti-anxiety drug and a couple of sessions with a therapist - and of all the wonderful ways she looked after me through my pregnancy this was the best, that she took my fears seriously and helped me on the path to treating them.

I got the prescription, popped the pills whenever I started feeling anxious, and off Husband and I set on our 'babymoon' - the pre-baby holiday so popular these days, the Last Time it'll just be the Two Of You yada yada, cheesy concept but I highly recommend it! We had an amazing time, travelling around, camping in rainforests, staying in seaside cottages, just hanging out, and for the most part, I was feeling much better, but the dark cloud of anxiety still hovered on the horizon, and I did have moments (one of which warrants a post of its own sometime, just for the bizarreness of it), when I was really glad to have those meds handy.

But that cloud did lift, and I really felt relieved from the shackles of anxiety, and more than anything I welcomed the return of my own conscience, my own gut instinct, and I appreciated the having of it so much more.

And I gained a measure of sympathy for people in the grip of their own anxious panic attacks, and how awful it is to be mistrustful of oneself, how scary when one's rational mind is no longer a 'faithful servant', let alone one's intuition a 'sacred gift'.

And so these are the things I think about as I try to get my head around another pregnancy....

1 comment:

julochka said...

very cool picture of the reflection in the tea kettle!

it's so strange, reading your description of your panic attacks, i realize i had them for awhile back in high school and didn't even know it (or tell anyone or seek help). it was after the father of a girl a couple years younger than me dropped dead out of the blue. she wasn't a friend and i hardly knew him, but for that entire summer, when i was away from home (which i was nearly every weekend showing horses), i totally worried about my dad. i imagined all kinds of horrible scenarios and would feel i was having a heart attack myself (at 14, which would really have been something). i never told anyone and i don't think anyone noticed. strange now, nearly 30 years later to realize what it was!

i can imagine pregnancy bringing on panic attacks as well, especially the way things are going in the world at the moment...but, as always, i think writing about these things helps enormously. :-)