I have been told

I have been told I’m wise
but that’s a pack of lies.

I’ve been told I’m clever
but only cos they’ve never
seen the contents of my head
because really, I’m brain dead.
I go through the motions
without any notion
of why.

I’ve been told I’m shy
timid, quiet
that I let
people talk over me,
but it’s hard when I fail to see
the point of the interaction.
there is a fraction
of me, buried deep
as though asleep.
it occasionally breaks through
and I want it to
though the effort it takes to make it happen
more often makes me batten
down the hatches, weather the storm
and this becomes the norm.

I have been told I’m kind
when the fact is that in my mind
I’m not
I have fought
to maintain this facade
of a trait I never had.

I have been told I’m a great many things
but very little rings
true
and I have work to do.

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not what it seems

they say that it’s not what it seems
that the dreams
don’t mean I’m to blame
but I feel the shame
all the same

it’s what I believe
though I’ve tried to leave
it behind
to be kinder
to myself
for the hurt I have felt

but late at night
when I have to fight
for breath
with what’s left
of my resolve
I dissolve
yet I’m advised not to involve
others, so I don’t
or maybe it’s more that I won’t

cos when I get that urge
when I need to purge
myself from the world
I stay curled
tightly
fighting those demons nightly
as though by being quiet and still
by taking that pill
by resisting the thoughts
I have fought
a great war
but what’s it all for?

yes, I am strong
but it has been a long
time
since I had control of my mind

and I’d like it to stop
to drop
this pretence
for my life to make sense
again
and maybe then
not pulled apart at the seams
I’ll accept that it’s not what it seems.

hibernation

cooried in,
safe.

the outside world
slips past
and you know
you should engage
join in
be present
cos that’s what they tell you
time and time again.

but with that connection comes the danger
of dark thoughts
and the possibility of acting
on them.

so you protect yourself
the best way you know how
stand back
lie down
disengage.

cooried in,
safe.

I did something

sometimes I think I did something bad
and that is what cause the mad-
-ness in me.

I’m not sure what it could be
but I’m convinced that somehow I’m to blame
for fanning that flame.
and I want to begin the fight
to put things right.

but I don’t know how to fix it
because I don’t know how it got lit
not really.

when I think clearly
I know it’s nothing I did
that I just slid
into this role
that in fact someone stole
something from me.

but that can be hard to see
cos of this thought I’ve often had
that I did something bad

love yourself

they say
‘you have to love yourself before you can love others’
but if that’s really true
then I haven’t a clue
when love will find me
because, you see
love for myself is a foreign concept
something I have wept
over, but cannot fix
I have tried, but it never clicks
into place
I just fall on my face
time after time.

maybe one day I will find
love for me
but must it be
I’m alone ’til then
not even deserving of friends?

I think we must take care
how and where
we spread this idea
and be very clear
that, even when ill
a person can still
love and receive love in return
– it is important to learn
gives hope
can help us to cope
in the darkest of times
and perhaps even find
out how
to turn that love inward now.

train tears

sitting on the train,
bubbling,
a blubbering mess
trying, and failing, not to let the tears spill,
hot and wet,
down your face,
under your chin,
into the collar of your t-shirt.

others stare politely
straight ahead.
allowing you to feel your pain
in peace.

you’re in pieces,
and you want to shout
about it.
but you don’t
and the tears fall silently.

will you cope?
you hope
that this won’t last
but the tears don’t pass
as the miles stretch out
between you
pulling you apart at the seams.

when it came to leaving
there were no tears
and any sentiments would have fallen on deaf ears.
so you left it.
left him.
quietly, without fuss
caught the bus
to the station
for the final time.

Climbing

they say it’s all about the climb,
that it just takes time.

sometimes, surefooted,
you spring up – shoot up,
almost unaware of the obstacles you pass,
but that can’t last.

and suddenly, imperceptibly, it’s harder,
the farther
you go.

progress is slow
you slip, fall,
grab on one-handed,
you’re stranded.

but when it causes so much pain,
you’re under such strain,
you wonder what the point is
– whether you want to live.

and so you have a choice,
you can use your voice,
ask for help,
for the hurt felt,
grab on with both hands
and eventually, stand.

or you can open your fist,
decide you won’t be missed,
and fall,
you’re not important after all.

but what if that’s not true?
they say that there’s nothing new
under the sun.

you’re not the only one
to ever feel this way
and the decision to stay,
hang on,
though torturous, is the stronger one.

and so you try,
you cry, but don’t fly,
swiftly to the ground.
you rebound,
restart the climb,
take your time.

Customer service

they call it ‘person-centered care’
it’s supposed to be all about the patient
but it’s not.

it’s about the professional, their attitudes, biases.

there are exceptions to the rule of course,
but in the main,
what is it really but bad customer service
by another name?

we are consumers, though we do not pay.
but is that any reason to take our rights away?
our voice?
our choice?

they talk about ‘parity of esteem’
with physical illness
but where is the funding?

and it’s us who pay the price,
they don’t think twice.

so, under-resourced, the system
already overstretched
struggles to meet the needs
of those who need it most
while people get lost
in paperwork.

the call it ‘person-centred care’
but in reality
is it really there?

News-worthy?

It seems that mental health has finally hit the headlines. And I’m not talking about awareness days, I’m talking about stories about the harsh realities of mental health.

A quick bit of googling on my part shows that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) has been in the spotlight. It took a senior judge stepping in for a teenage girl with a personality disorder to receive the life-saving treatment she clearly needed. Obviously this is not the norm. Judges don’t step in in every case. What is the norm is that we’re failing children and young people¬†in general. These news stories are English, but I fear that similar stories could be told of CAMHS care in Scotland. Personally I know of at least one story of a teenager being told that services simply ‘did not know how to help her’. So she was discharged. Thankfully that has recently been rectified, but imagine being told that you essentially can’t be helped? And at such a young age?

In fact, imagine being told this at any age? Because what hasn’t been in the news is that adult mental health care in the UK is woefully lacking. Too many people are told they’re ‘not ill enough’ and turned away from secondary services while GPs and A&Es struggle to firefight.

It took me roughly three years of referrals and re-referrals from my GP, and discharges and re-discharges from the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT), before I landed in hospital and they finally started taking me seriously. And I am by no means an isolated case. Even now, when services have been put in place for me, I am regularly ‘fobbed off’ with five minute conversations when I’m in crisis. I can’t help wondering how much worse it is for those who have not made it this far up the CMHT ladder…how hard it is for them not to give up entirely.

Because this is the reality of the situation. People with life threatening illnesses are being treated like simple pests. And it’s just not good enough. The government preaches about mental health care being equal to that of physical health, and then underfunds it to a degree that seriously ill people are being turned away, something is most definitely very, very wrong. How to fix it? More funding, clearly. Will that happen? Sadly, I am very, very doubtful.

avalanche 

they call us snowflakes
imagine that we think ourselves ‘special’
or somehow better
worth more
in a world that sees many of us as less than.

but so what if we are?
it’s not unreasonable
to reach for more from the world
to expect things to be fair, equal.

and there are more of us
than you’d think.
it’s not just young people.

the beauty of snowflakes is they they come
in all shapes and sizes
each one unique
until they lie together forming part of a whole
carpet of snow.
and, left to gather, that builds.

so if we are snowflakes
expect avalanches.