“Depression And Three Days In Bed Can Restore Your Creativity”

Charles Bukowski on how to turn days of darkness into sources of personal and creative renewal.

Me and Jim and Lithium

Poem that received honorable mention at the 2013 Adult Mental Health Poetry Contest sponsored by the Texas Department of State Health Services Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division

by Judy Eron

 Jim and I, we had a life that you would not believe.

Found at once what it takes others lifetimes to achieve.

He said he had found his twin; I said much the same about him.

It worked well for me and Jim—for me and Jim and lithium.

Four pink capsules every day. He said it saved his life.

Thirteen hundred milligrams, and it was joy to be his wife.

Love is strong and love can last, but mania can kick love’s ass,

Which mania did to me and Jim, when he stopped his lithium.

I know Jim stopped his medicine, longing for the high,

Forgetting all the messes that his illness would intensify.

I tried to help but all in vain; I had no chance against his brain.

I’d have moved the earth for him. But I was just not lithium.

We missed the chance to have the talks that likely could have led

To a plan to deal with what would happen if he stopped his meds.

If Jim were here, he would have cared and helped others be more prepared.

Believe me, you’d have loved that Jim—the one who took his lithium.

“I am not a psychiatric diagnosis in a fat folder”

by Laura Fishbourne, winner of the 2013 Poetry Competition awarded by the Royal College of Psychiatrists

A Photograph Taken in Honest Lighting

I am pockmarked.
My attention deficit fingers
know every pore
and every blemish.
My skin is a poem
learnt in braille, recited daily.
It is a dig that does not know
if it is being excavated
or exhumed.
Only that it is caving
under the pressure
of pitted, anaemic nails.

I am the photograph
that you put to the back
of the album
but the front of an exhibition.
the unflinching rawness
of adolescent anxiety.
The street translation:
why doesn’t she use concealer?
My mirrors are your
car windows, your LCD
television screens,
the whites of your eyes.

I am not a cocoon/
butterfly metaphor
nor a skin deep maxim.
My foibles are pathological
but I am not a psychiatric
diagnosis in a fat folder
I am a photograph
taken in honest lighting.
A polaroid snap
developing in plain sight.
I am finding
my exposure.

Stop Worrying

This is not exactly an anxiety-related writing but it helps put things in perspective. It is from a 1933 letter  from F. Scott Fitzgerald to his 11-year-old daughter:

“Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions”

The Nightmare Voice Of My Depression

Another poem from the 2013 Mental Health Poetry Competition:

You start to see the cracks,
When the chaos in my mind,
Opens up into your soul.

My madness pulses and oozes inside of you, Until you burst into flames.
You feel like you’re being stabbed in a cage.
No escape from the madness inside my rage.

Biting through flesh just to get away.
Drop by drop,
My blood trickles into your eyes,
Infects you like a parasite.
Sipping at the cruelty in your humanity.

Fire burning, choking, welcoming,
Until dust in the wind.
Yet my ashes follow that line of blood,
Burning through your skull.

And death, not welcomed, not feared.
Shall we say goodnight and let the screams begin.

My Crazy Is Not Crazy

From the Mental Health Poetry 2013 Competition at the University of Nottingham:

“My crazy is not crazy
I have not heard voices;
The reverberating sound
That comes not from the ears
But the centre of the skull,
As loud as day
And as frightening as hell.

Well, maybe I’ve heard them
Once or twice
But you know how these things go.

My crazy is more oft my own voice
Telling me that I am a
stupid/fat/ugly/worthless/failure.
But if it is mine, I can try to control it I am shouting louder than the voices in my head.
I will fight this.
I will win.”