A Letter to Those in Low Spirits (World Mental Health Day 2017)

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This is a poem I wrote for Writer’s Digest November Poem a Day (PAD) Challenge back in 2015, which I thought would be appropriate to repost today, as a hearfelt message to those who may be afflicted by mental health issues, or struggling with depression or similar demons. Please read on after the poem for some of my own thoughts about mental health and the perception of it in today’s society…

A Letter to Those in Low Spirits

For all of the people
That can’t face the day
Or break free from
The feelings of dread
That tether you to your bed,
This is an open letter
To tell you, you are loved
And that things will get better.

For the writer of this letter
Is too, a long-suffering soul
Who knows well that pain
And the unbearable noise
Of contradictory thoughts
That thrash away in your mind.
To be terrified yet weary
All at once, the harshest torture.

I know the painful paradox
Of being afraid to fail
With no energy to even try,
Or craving companionship
But still seeking solitude,
To care to the point of crying
But then feeling numb to it all.
I’ve known all this, and felt the fall.

But please know this,
That the blame lies not with you
And that you are not alone.
I write this to reach out
To my fellow sufferers
Who toil and struggle on
In a black and white world
That will never truly understand.

If you’ll take my hand,
I’ll deliver you from darkness
And help you find the light inside.

Yours sincerely,
A Soul Ailed by the Daily Monsters of Disquiet and Desolation

***

I’ve always been passionate about raising awareness of mental health, and am frequently frustrated by the stigma and negative perceptions it faces in society today. While we have come a long way from the days of everyone with mental illness being branded a ‘lunatic’ and locked up in asylums, and thankfully away from such horrors as lobotomies and electroconvulsive ‘therapy’, I feel we are still a long way from everyone fully understanding and appreciating mental health being just as valid and important as physical health. It may well be easy to tell someone who is feeling depressed to ‘pull yourself together’, and insist that they pull themselves out of bed and ‘get on with it’, but the simple fact is that they most likely can’t, despite how much they may want to do so and continue as ‘normal’. I know just how relentless the black dog of depression can be, just gnawing and gnawing away at you until you feel numb to everything, and have perpetual feelings of anxiety (deciding the worst-case scenario will happen, getting worked up over this and then demeaning yourself for being so stupid later when it doesn’t happen – a near endless cycle unless you are able to pull yourself out of it), so I can relate when others are struggling. While for me personally it has never got to the point where I have had to stop working or had it derail my life significantly, I have experienced enough to know that looking after your mental wellbeing is one of the most important things, and how vital it is to get support if you find yourself unable to do it on your own. I am currently studying a course around Mental Health Awareness for my job and am pondering working in this field somehow in the future, as this should not be the only day of the year where awareness should be raised. We are not so easy to criticise or belittle those afflicted with physical illness or disabilities, so why should it be any different for those with mental health problems? Be part of the solution and do what you can to help the cause; let’s end the stigma and stop trivialising and overlooking what is a serious issue in our society.

***

Read my previous posts around mental health, including my potential poetry chapbook themed around mental health, ‘The Dance of Dark and Light’ (hopefully to see publication soon!)

‘The Dance of Dark and Light’ (possible poetry compilation)

‘The Darkness Within Writing’

Weds Poetry Prompt: ‘Versus Yourself”

‘The Power of Music and Rain (A Moment of Reflection)’

2017 April Pad Challenge Day 8: ‘A Mind Under Attack’

2017 April PAD Challenge Day 9: ‘So What Now?’

Check out my debut poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

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‘Beyond the Diagnosis’ (video)

This is a video of me performing the poem, ‘Beyond the Diagnosis’ – which is about celebrating autism and the uniqueness of people on the spectrum. This was a performance as part of the spoken word stage at an event organised by the company I work for (I’m a support worker for people with autism), and is me truly speaking from the heart. I am aware I need to work on my performance a little, try and be a little more natural – but I hope the overall message comes across.

This is the poem in text form:

Beyond the Diagnosis

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‘Forest of Fading Years’

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(I submitted this poem for a competition where it was required to write a poem around the theme of ‘hope’ – unfortunately I did not win, but thought I would present my work on the blog anyway – ‘hope’ (groan) you enjoy)

Forest of Fading Years

I think back to tender days
When time was a thousand trees
In a forest filled with mystery,
Free from the throes of supposed maturity.

I recall the nights of nothing to fear
Only dreams of chimerical cheer,
And when the elusive angel of sleep
Could sooth me far more easily.

Now, in this desert of muddled years
Dark and light thicken together
Into sands of confounding grey;

These memories are the thirst, my hope
That my bitter and tired tongue
Shall taste a drop of innocence again.

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

Soundtrack of my Life (Writing / ‘Feel Good’ Playlist (Vol. 3)

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From the music video for ‘Tender’ (Feeder)

So I have previously posted a selection of my favourite songs that I would put within my ‘Feel Good/Writing’ playlist, (see Vol. 1 here and Vol. 2 here) as I find having music to listen to while writing really helps get my creative juices flowing, and the songs are also ones I like to listen to when I need a bit of cheering up after a rough day – basically, they give me positive and/or creative vibes all round. While working on the next post on this subject, which concerned songs released in the period of 2004-2007, I instantly found myself taken back in time to those years, which for me was when I had just finished sixth form (college) and then went on to study at university. This was a time of a lot of change and transition for me, given that I would also be moving away from my hometown (only an hour away, but still), and also that I turned 18 in 2005 – I was becoming an adult, my childhood slowly slipping away from me, both mentally and geographically. Therefore they were quite uncertain times; on top of that, while at uni I was still figuring out my sexuality – coming to a head in my second year when I finally realised and accepted that I was gay. In short, I was really figuring out who I was at the time, which has obviously shaped the person that I am now, some 12 to 13 years later. As I said, the songs that I have in my Media Player library from this time instantly transported me back there, to simpler (yet somehow complicated) times, and I became very wistful and contemplative about everything. Just goes to show the power that music can have, and how it frames certain periods of your life!

At any rate; the first of these tracks was ‘Breakaway’ by Kelly Clarkson. Now, a singer like her, an American Idol winner, is not someone who would usually be to my taste (not to sound snobby or anything), but I was drawn to her music for some reason, and one of my favourite tracks ended up becoming ‘Breakaway’ – and again, given that it was recorded specifically to be part of the soundtrack for The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (shudder), I guess that this song would count as a guilty pleasure of mine. But it really did speak to me at the time, being a song about change and getting away and moving on – from the mention of ‘growing up in a small town’ to the regret suggested in ‘wanting to belong here’; this was something I struggled a lot with in my school years, sincerely valuing the few friends that I did have. At the time I was hopeful that university would bring a positive change in my life and with it, new friends, and I suppose this song was a comfort to me at the time, while I waited to see if this would come to fruition. Apologies if this comes off as overly sappy and sickening, but this really is what this song does to me! Quite brave of me to admit to over the internet, you may well argue…

Continuing the theme of talented female artists, another song I listened to a lot at the time was KT Tunstall’s ‘Another Place to Fall’. A bit different from Clarkson’s offering, this one has quite a relentless angry energy to it (‘Are you blind? Blind to me trying to be kind?’) . I think at the time it was my outlet and (private) release of aggression about the more negative people in my life, just one of those great ‘fuck you’ songs that is always satisfying to listen to.

As you’ll have seen in my previous posts, I am a big fan of Coldplay – well, to be specific, what they were producing at this specific time; I am not the biggest fan of their latter works. At any rate, X&Y was, and still is, one of my favourite albums of theirs, in particular the tracks ‘White Shadows’ and ‘Fix You’. The former just has that haunting, yet exhilarating sound that characterised a lot of their early offerings. It’s a song I found (and still do) find reassuring, somehow – it emphasises how we are all ‘part of a system’ and a plan, that there is a bigger picture out there beyond our often petty human concerns (I’m sure we all have our moments of being ‘tired of the human race’). Also as I’m still in the process of figuring out my life and what I want, somewhat, I find the lyric ‘Maybe you’ll get what you wanted/Maybe you’ll stumble upon it’ both reassuring, but also perhaps dripping a little bit with sarcasm – given the title of the song I suppose it’s appropriate it has that contradictory feeling to it…

The song segues seamlessly into ‘Fix You’, obviously one of the band’s more famous tracks. Again it’s one of those songs that manages to evoke depression and reassurance at the same time, and I can very much relate to ‘feeling so tired but you can’t sleep’ and being ‘stuck in reverse’. We all have those moments where we feel stuck or on autopilot and desperately trying to figure things out, and this song assures us that this something that everyone goes through. After all, those ‘lights will guide you home’ eventually.

Finally, ‘Tender’ from Feeder, another band you will have seen me gush about in previous posts, was a song I’d often find myself listen to while I was daydreaming of one day finding ‘the one’, my true love (after I’d figured out that yes, I did indeed prefer men). It’s just so hopeful and eerily sad at the same time, all coming to a crescendo with the chorus line, ‘The loneliness has gone’. Again, call me a sentimental idiot if you must, but this song always gave me hope after each and every relationship or almost-relationship that didn’t work out, that one day I would find the right one. Happily I can now say with confidence, that I finally have, and will take those new roads together with him. Yeah, yeah I know, I’m sure even he will be reaching for the sick bag after reading that. At any rate, these are the songs that I feel characterise the wide-eyed, often naïve and foolish, but well-meaning, me that was beginning to enter adulthood. Even now at the ripe old age of 30, I still feel like I’m mostly pretending and ‘winging it’ with the whole adult-ing thing, but I’m sure experience and music will show me the way like it always has.

Anyone else have songs that take them back to certain times in their life, evoke memories good or bad? Let me know what makes up the soundtrack of your life 🙂

 

Check out my debut poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

The Fall of the Simpsons: How it Happened

(NB: Not my video!)

Just wanted to share this excellent analysis of the downfall of one of my favourite TV shows ever – I agree with most of the points and it explains excellently just how the show is now a shadow of its former self. As hardcore a fan as I am, I stopped watching regularly long ago and wish they’d let the damn thing die. Might even write my own thoughts on it on here at some point…

Weds poetry prompt: ‘The Struggle of Stuarts (or Stewarts)’

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Me holding a rather impressive mangling of my first name, which inspired this poem!

This week’s prompt:

Pick one, two, or all of the following prompts:

  1. Write a form poem. Sestina, sonnet, haiku, clogyrnach, golden shovel, etc.
  2. Write an anti-form poem. Don’t like forms? Vent about it. Or just bust free verse.
  3. Write a birthday poem.

…So I actually plumped for No. 1, quite out of character for me (I previously went for the ‘anti-form’ option when posed with a similar prompt a while ago) , but was inspired to write a clogyrnach this time (explained in the link), a form I had not attempted before. I was also inspired by the post author’s example of a Sestina in the post for this prompt, with the woes associated with his first name, so thought I’d write one about the struggles of people attempting to spell the name ‘Stuart’/’Stewart’. Maybe any fellow Stu’s/Stew’s reading this can relate! Any way, see what you think of my attempt at a clogyrnach…

The Struggle of Stuarts (or Stewarts)

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‘The Story of Charlie’ (A Pet Poem)

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My handsome chap of a pet cat, Charlie 🙂

So a little while ago I wrote a poem about how myself and my partner came to own our now beloved pet cat, Charlie (all quite by chance – he really did literally find us), and I would like to share it with you all in this post 🙂 He can be a cheeky little troublemaker at times, but we both love him – and I found myself getting quite emotional as I was writing this, truth be told! Has anyone else ever been inspired to write about a beloved pet of theirs? Would love to see any other poems about pussy cats, pooches or otherwise 🙂

It’s quite a long one, so enjoy after the jump 🙂

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