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.
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