Singed tips of a wormed mass
fester beneath thatch and flake,
a face turns to dust as a thousand
electrifying ants crawl.
Arm raised to heaven and bereft
of any feeling; the monthly terror,
pulling at eye sockets and nerve endings
locusts and crickets festival.
Cricket bat racquet hand reaches uncertainly
for a link to cry for help,
useless digits blunder and surrender to
a swarm of wasps in my head.
I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!- Lewis Carroll
Imagine walking in to the bedroom you’ve slept in for the past 6 months. Everything is there in substance, the sewing machine table you lovingly restored, trinkets and pictures you carefully picked and placed, the clothes you discarded only hours before. Everything is the same, yet when you look around the room it is as if you have never been there before- things look different, brighter, bigger, moved around. You’ve not taken any mind altering drugs, but your brain is suffering a massive internal disturbance; stretching and distorting what you know until you don’t recognise it anymore.
On first reading, you’d be forgiven for thinking Alice in Wonderland is a rare look in to the mind of a genius, drug addicted writer who has spilled his visions out on to paper. Certainly, that was my initial thought- it mirrored The Beatles’ ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’- cellophane flowers, a hookah smoking caterpillar and tablets which change your size and shape. It wasn’t until I discovered that Lewis Carroll suffered with migraine that it all started to make sense. Take the first hypothetical situation I put forward and then consider that this actually happened to me only a few days ago. It is clear that Carroll was riding on the back of these visual disturbances and distortions to feed his work- and how fantastic the result was.
Lewis Carroll isn’t the only gifted artist to have suffered with the affliction of migraine with visual aura. There has been much speculation that Picasso’s work was largely based on the visual disturbances he suffered through migraine. Perhaps if he had found a cure we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of viewing his extraordinary artworks.
The list goes on, it’s clear that people who are afflicted with this terrible problem have, through history, gained some sort of equilibrium with the disease- channeling it to their own benefit. Quite a number of the sufferers I have uncovered were, however,tortured souls who struggled with daily life. Perhaps the affliction is a gift and a curse; we just have to understand it and learn how to live with it.