Chronic Illness and Big Finish Doctor Who

I prefer to talk about my interests rather than myself online, but here’s one big reason I’m grateful to Big Finish: Doctor Who audios are an escape from chronic illness.

Visual media like TV and film can take us away from ourselves. So can good video games, although button-mashing puts most games out of reach for chronic pain sufferers. Good audio dramas, however, invite our imaginations to supply the visuals. Our minds can’t help but fill in imagery to match what we’re hearing. And when we do that, just as when we read a book, it causes our brains to ignore our senses, at least to a certain extent, and focus instead on imaginary space. It’s induced synaesthesia.

It’s also a coping mechanism for hospital stays. I don’t know about you, but I find noisy environments stressful. I can’t relax with nurses talking outside my open door, machine beeps and PA announcements, the rattle of gurneys and wheelchairs going past. The last time I was stuck there for several days, I got through the ordeal with noise canceling headphones and an iPad security blanket full of Doctor Who.

That’s why I’ve had many of my favorite actors sign my Big Finish library, even though it makes me reluctant to replace it. They were “with me” when I was alone in the hospital. And they’ve seen me through some pretty rough nights when I couldn’t stay asleep. It’s a silly psychological crutch, but I’m grateful for any drug-free palliative.

(Which is why I complain about Nyssa having almost no angst-free audios. Sometimes I don’t want a gut-wrenching, painful tragedy, however beautifully written and acted. My gut’s already wrenching on its own, thanks, and pain is always with me. Give her more Emerald Tiger/Castle of Fear vacations, please, just as Peri and Erimem have had at least some fun between their grimmer trials and tribulations.)

At any rate, I’d like to thank Big Finish, from the writers and production team to the actors, for helping me through some difficult times in the last couple of years. The Doctor is a good doctor. So are his companions.