World Mental Health Day: 10 October
This day is recognised by the World Health Organisation as World Mental Health Day, and the theme chosen for 2020 is “Mental Health for All”.
Each day in the week prior to 10th October I shall be posting poems and stories that explore issues around my own mental health, or that I have written in response to important emotional and psychological themes.
‘Washed-up Mind’ is a reflection on how I felt at a time when I was in and out of the mental health system. Was I mad, or sane; was I ‘waving’, or ‘drowning’ (with thanks to Stevie Smith’s fantastic poem ‘Not waving , but Drowning’); was it the beginning of recovery, or of illness? Re-reading it now I wondered how much it might reflect the confusion of early dementia.
That washed-up image of a girl I see,
I knew her once, or did she know me?
She touches her cheek as I touch mine,
taking her time, mouths the words I speak;
we gaze at each other from staring eyes
lack of recognition fools my mind.
Does bedlam beckon? That place for fools
who’ve heard the wailing sirens’ call
and leapt into the deluged pool
their minds becalmed beneath the swell;
I will not heed their madness song
(I’ll plug my ears from sugared notes),
plunge in the foam as I desire
and feel again the sea’s embrace
to taste the ocean’s salty spray
and crest the wave of my high tide.
A young man asks my name,
I tell him it’s the same it’s always been,
and who is he, he asks, and what’s the date;
I throw the questions back like runty fish –
I know a trick or two
I know the ropes,
that I could end up drowning here
in the shallows of my ebb:
this long-time dying
between the mind’s high-tides,
a boat at anchor
slowly keeled on the lengthening shore.
During this time of global uncertainty it seems especially important to care for our own mental health, and to be aware of the mental health needs of others. Everyone is important. The most important person in your life is You. Cherish yourself.
Thank you for reading my words.