In our weekly spot where we natter about mental health and wellbeing, a little chat about Spites, and trying to keep on top of them.

Hello, and welcome to Wellbeing Matters, the part of the Film Stories website where we invite you to grab a cup of tea and a biscuit of choice (shortbread rules), and have a natter about anything and everything.

This morning my husband uttered some very wise words in my direction. ‘Write, not bite!’ he said, referring to my cannibalising my nails and fingers as we watched breakfast news. There’s much in the news to nibble on, we can all agree. However, as the bloody stumps of my fingernails attest, it can become all consuming.

Last week I mused that it felt like Pandora’s Box had been opened, the contents spilling out with wicked glee to infest 2020 with a never-ending litany of disease, despair and death. Pandora’s Box in legend wasn’t actually a box. It was a jar in which Zeus had imprisoned all the Spites that might plague mankind, including sickness, insanity, old age, labour, vice and passion (according to Robert Graves’ Greek Myths).

Watching the news, chewing my fingers, it seems that not only has Pandora’s Box been opened this year, but the Spites have been given a seat at the top table. A recent modern-day Spite could be called Algorithm, be it search engine or otherwise.

I was thinking this week that we all have our own Pandora’s Box, tucked away inside of us. In it, we try to keep a lid on our own Spites. The ones that derail us, like fear and anxiety. The ones that we know are ungenerous, such as jealousy and greed. And while current events are on a global scale, the effect on the individual is immense.

Watching leaders behaving badly can give the impression that it’s okay to follow suit, to unleash our own hoard of Spites on our immediate neighbours, which then ripple outwardly, cross contaminating everyone we come into contact with, be it in a physical sense or online. It’s not okay.

How do we keep a lid on our Spites, our fears? It’s a hard one, and again unique to the individual. There’s the practical stuff wherever possible – itemise a problem, then deal with it stage by stage. This isn’t always achievable. We can become peaceful activists, whether by joining a march, organising events or by virtual campaigning for social justice, or to raise aware of pressing issues.

But we also need to look out for ourselves, to care for ourselves. Our energy, our reserves are not infinite. Self-expression in any form can be helpful. Paint, create art, slogans. Turn up the radio and dance in your pants, or start a Facebook party. As the lovely Taylor says, shake it off.

The bad stuff will still be there, to be sure. But if you can give yourself a respite from the nip of the Spites, go for it. I lose myself in words, so as the man said, I need to write, not bite. Give my fingertips a different focus, my mind a different set of problems to focus on, other than the rolling news.

Is there anything creative that’s helped you keep a lid on your jar of nasties? Has it been difficult to focus on doing creative things? Or are you struggling, feeling a bit helpless in the face of all the spites breaking out around us? Can we help at all? Drop a comment below the line, and feel free to have a natter.

Thanks as always for reading.

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