train tears

sitting on the train,
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.



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?


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.


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.

safe harbour

when I think of what you stole
the hole
you left
in my chest
I feel bereft.

and I recoiled
you finished, I was spoiled
was dirt
and it hurt.

what you took,
it shook
me to the core of my being,
as I watched from the ceiling.

wondering ‘how could he?’
and ‘why would he?’
but it’s plain to see
you thought you were free
to take what you wanted from me.

years have passed
and I wonder
-when was the last
time you thought of it?

I wonder
do you realise what you stole?
how I haven’t felt whole
in years.
days and nights filled with fears.

and (since you asked)
for me, it’s a mammoth task,
to calm the ripples each day.
to fight the compulsion not to stay.

but it’s time.
to take back what was once mine.
the security,
the surety,
with which I walked,

the being
and seeing.
something else

and the comfort
-they say ‘any port
in a storm’

and I needed rescue,
that was true.

but the storm has passed,

and at last
I have found my safe harbour.
I have come farther
than I ever imagined I could go
and I just thought you should know.

the dragon, and the tears

proud, triumphant
the dragon and its gold
and oh! what a story
there is to be told.

there once was a girl
with long black hair,
pale skin and brown eyes
and not a care

in the world.
or so she thought
cos her tears were priceless
they couldn’t be bought.

the dragon he knew this
and he knew a wee man.
a man who was clever
-a man with a plan.

the man climbed through her window
every night without fail
and stole all of her dreams
it caused her to wail.

she cried and she cried
oh my how she wept,
and she shut herself in
where the broomsticks were kept!

a life without dreams
just wasn’t worth living
away went her laughter,
her loving and giving.

the wee man he was quick
he collected her tears
and sold them at auction
without any fears.

he ran from that place,
tried to keep all the gold,
but the dragon had heard
that the tears had been sold.

the wee man kept running
but just wasn’t fast
enough, so the dragon
killed him with one blast!

so now it sits high
on a mighty huge pile
the dragon, the gold
and a great toothy smile!

but what what of girl?
what of her life?
she met the knight of her dreams
and became his wife.


“baby you’re a firework”
– so the song would have us believe.

you were an IED,
an unexploded time bomb.

and maybe I lit the touch paper,
maybe I set fire to you and watched you burn.

but only from a distance.

after all,
we were always taught
never to go back to fireworks.


he stole my car radio.
so I sit in silence.
but sometimes quiet is violent,
pummelling ’til everything’s out of control.
and it’s taking its toll.

I hate driving this car,
it’s careering.
I struggle to correct the steering
– to limit the casualties.

but nobody sees,
the effort it’s taking,
the ease that I’m faking
the noise I’m not making.

I look at the hole
where the thing that he stole
is MIA
and I can’t pay
to replace it.

so I sit.
wound tightly
driving nightly
in ear-splitting silence.


the horizon is low
– sky huge and bright blue,
or ominously dark.

there are no obstacles.
that imaginary line feels like a precipice.

but somehow ordinary.

and you stand with eyes closed
waiting for the moment
– that wonderful second of flight –
before you hit