Sane New World?

Ruby Wax, "Sane New World"

I was privileged to see Ruby Wax live at the St James Theatre on the weekend, in her one-woman stage-show, “Sane New World”.  There she shared bitter-sweet laughter with the audience about human failings and our inability to manage our lives. Taboos on discussing mental health issues have crippled us for such a long time that it was refreshing to hear Ruby being so honest about her own struggles with deep, dark depression.

She has recently completed a Masters in Mindfulness-based therapy at Oxford University and has drawn upon her dissertation, as well as her own experience of acute mental illness, in producing her new book and stage show. She uses her comic platform to open up these issues and ways of understanding our problems, finding helpful approaches to dealing with troublesome thinking. Our understanding of how our brains work is so limited, she says that “It’s like having a Ferrari on top of your head but no one gave you the keys.” No wonder we struggle! Her show run is over now, but you can get a sense of her message in this interview, or get her book.

The second half of her show was both fascinating and profoundly moving, as it was, quite literally, a conversation with the audience. There were many questions and comments from both those suffering fom mental-health problems, and mental-health professionals, including the psychiatrist who had sectioned Ruby seven years earlier! Time and again, the message from sufferers was one of relief at gaining some understanding of what was going on, and the deep release of being able to talk about it with someone without being judged.

In my training at the Institute for the Arts in Therapy and Education, I studied the neuroscience of mental health issues. Often, I find that people seeking counselling like to understand something of what’s going on under the bonnet of their Ferrari. Without exception, I find that clients are profoundly relieved to be able to talk about their problems freely. If you would appreciate some keys in the midst of your difficulties and a caring, listening ear, please feel free to contact me.