Something that’s becoming de rigueur amongst swimmers is the Dryrobe (other makes are available). If you’re unaware of this garment, to start with it’s expensive. It’s a big, loose, warm coat that's designed for swimmers to keep warm before and after swimming. Incidentally what’s “wild” swimming all about? Does that imply there’s “tame" swimming?
Anyway why am I talking about a Dryrobe? Well I was thinking I might like one. I don’t mind getting my wetsuit on and jumping in the sea but I’m a bit averse to getting cold. A Dryrobe could be the answer. Then, quietly I thought by the time the weather is good enough for me to be back in the sea I may not be well enough. What’s the point of thinking I’ll get any use from such a garment?
What’s the point? A question I’m often asking myself. Sometimes when my guard is down this question may just bring me to tears. So I have a little weep.
Crying about a Dryrobe? Not really. It’s just my heightened emotional state.
Since my diagnosis I’ve probably shed more tears than I have in all my preceding 62+ years. I’ve hugged friends and cried. I’ve spoken to friends and family on the phone and we’ve both ended up crying. I've written quite a few of these posts through tears. (I’m doing it now). Give me a minute!
I'm OK again now.
It seems a bit odd talking about crying but writing about it is strangely liberating. So it got me thinking about crying in general. What's the science of crying?
I found some information written by Dr Nick Knight a junior doctor based in London with a PhD background in human performance. The piece of work is a bit too long to include in its entirety so I’ve borrowed bits and added bits.
Crying is part of our human emotional package – love it, or hate it. Of course, women are definitely better at it than men, with the number of cries per year estimated at 50 and 10, respectively. Not me, unfortunately, I’m getting really adept at crying.
It begs the questions how does it all work, and what triggers our waterworks when we are both sad - and happy?
Crying is the shedding of tears in response to an emotional state; as opposed to ‘lacrimation’, which is the non-emotional shedding of tears.
You don’t just make one type of tear - you make three: basal, reflex and psychic tears. Your basal tears are the ‘worker tears’ and they keep your cornea (the transparent front of your eye) nourished and lubricated so your eyes don’t dry out. Then there are your reflex tears that help you to wash out any irritations to your eyes from foreign particles or vapours (onion, being the classic example). Finally, there are the psychic, ‘crying’ tears. These are the tears produced in response to that strong emotion you may experience from stress, pleasure, anger, sadness and suffering to, indeed, physical pain. Psychic tears even contain a natural painkiller, called leucine enkephalin – perhaps that's part of the reason why you might feel better after a good cry!
But how does your in-built shower-system link to these emotions? Well, there is an area of your brain specifically to deal with your emotions, called the limbic system (specifically the part of it called the hypothalamus), which is hard-wired into your autonomic nervous system (that’s the part you don’t have any control over). This system, via a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, has a degree of control over the lacrimal ‘tear’ system; and it is this tiny molecule which then stimulates tear production. So in short, your emotional reactions can trigger your nervous system, which in turn, orders your tear-producing system to activate.
What is the point of them though? Is it as simple as an expression in response to a stimulus, as some suggest, or a more complex primal call out - a form of non-verbal communication to elicit help and support from those around you in your time of need? There are some psychologists who believe you feel better after a cry because of this social input, solidifying of relationships with those sharing in the experience, and collaborative helplessness.
Now the interesting thing about crying is that it doesn’t just make your face wet, it has a whole host of other effects; your heart rate increases, you sweat, your breathing slows and you can get a lump in your throat – known as the globus sensation. This all occurs as a result of your sympathetic nervous system (that’s your ‘fight or flight’ system) activating in response to your situation.
Tears are a positive representation of who we are. It demonstrates not only our deep emotional connections with our world – past, present, and future – but allows us to visibly celebrate that fact. They are also scientifically proven to make you feel better.
So if thinking about a Dryrobe can make me cry imagine the strength of the protective shield I have to put in place. I spend loads of time activating my own personal force field. I desperately try not to look too far ahead.
Sometimes it's simply more expedient to look a little way ahead, painful though it might be. If you’re dying, and can prove it, you qualify for the highest rate Employment Support Allowance. I’ll have some of that, after all I’ll not be getting any state pension. If you’re dying, and can prove it, you can cash in any pensions.
Done that as well. Try reading the “Declaration of Serious Ill Health” which had to be filled out by my doctor, harrowing reading . A stark reminder of my fate.
I can forget the next series of “I’m a Celebrity” or “Strictly" that’s an easy even flippant thing to write, but try writing “I’ll not see my grandchildren grow up”. Now that’s difficult. Give me a minute!
I’m OK now. Am I? Of course I’m not.
Here’s a few words and phrases I can easily relate to. Tearful, weeping, close to tears, sobbing, emotional, sad, unhappy, depressed, disconsolate, maudlin, miserable, forlorn, lugubrious, weepy and down in the dumps.
But it’s tiring being sad and emotional, thankfully there’s just as many words and phrases I can also relate to (sometimes); cheerful, in good spirits, ebullient, smiling, laughing, jovial, genial, good-humoured, positive, upbeat, smiley, jocund, gladsome, blithesome and of good cheer.
The Coffee Club cheers me up so don't forget;
Topic: Coffee Club 26 Jan
Time: Jan 26, 2021 10:00 AM Universal Time UTC
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Meeting ID: 729 6859 1109 Passcode: r8rPbD
Am I OK now? I think so........