Tag Archives: Mental Health

Mental Health Awareness Week – With You in Mind Anthology

Standard

Back in 2015 I became aware of ‘The With You in Mind’ anthology that Sarah James compiled from her website, where she shared poems for Mental Health Awareness. That same year she produced The Magnetic Diaries, a poetry-play based on her collection of the same name, for the Write On Festival at The Courtyard Arts Centre, Hereford.

Since then the show has developed and toured. The ACE-funded tour included performances at Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Bristol Poetry Festival, Hereford’s Chapel Arts Centre, FEAST festival at Malvern Cube, mac birmingham and London’s The Vaults. It was also a Highly Recommended Show at Edinburgh Fringe 2016, where it had a two-week run at Aviary at ZOO Venues. © 2016 Sarah James

Alongside the touring show, Sarah facilitated Pain to Poetry workshops, one of which I was lucky enough to participate in at the MAC.

Birmingham-MD-A3-300-DPI-Web-E-Flyer-724x1024

This year Sarah added to the collection during Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14th May) with poems produced as a result of the Pain to Poetry workshops.

My initial idea was to re-blog the posts/poems as they came in throughout the week (but due to technical issues, we were offline).

The week started with Hide and Seek by Louise Stokes. If you would like to read the daily posts then follow this link and click the ‘next post’ button at the bottom of each page.

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=8080

Alternatively you can use this link to the updated ‘With You in Mind’ anthology and read the poems from 2015 and 2017.

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?page_id=5639

My own poems – Anchored and Hallmarks can be found here Nina Lewis

I am grateful for the opportunity to share work on this subject, especially as I know that without suffering depression I may not have found my way back to writing.

mhaw17-badge-tile

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=5670

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?page_id=6732

http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=8073

The Magnetic Diaries

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

‘Break on Through’

Standard

It has been over a week since my last blog post, I come to write this post on loss and find that the programming has been updated and content looks completely different for us on WordPress. I wish there was an option to use the old format, but alas, as with life things move on.

A lot has happened in the poetry world, my world and the world since I last posted and although I tend to steer clear of media stories, I cannot let the passing of David Bowie and Alan Rickman go without a mention.

I discovered Bowie as a teen, music first, then ‘Labyrinth’ years later, even tried my hand at creating the jacket worn by the Goblin King and definitely copied the eye make-up! As for Alan Rickman, as I was training to be an actress, he was someone I felt even closer to. First discovered in ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ – what an actor, what a presence, what a voice.

It is a sad loss to the Arts that these two stars have been extinguished at just 69, both dying from Cancer. May they Rest In Peace.

Rachel Green Sammy

Closer to home, the poetry community was rocked on the 5th January by the sad news that a wonderful poet, Sammy Joe, was no longer with us. The outpouring of love since has been amazing, I only wish she could read the heartfelt words. All the events I have attended in the past week have offered words in her memory and I know we will get to celebrate her life sometime in the future.

Lots of people are grieving and my thoughts are with her daughter, Rosie and the family. We (the poetry community) have shared compassion in grief. It has shaken all of us and it is almost impossible to imagine the world without her. It will be a long while before we realise we will not see her again, she isn’t going to turn up at events. It has also made us all wake up and appreciate what life is and how we need to let friends know they are in our hearts.

Which is where Sammy is now, Rest In Peace, my friend. x

bakehouse Photo Credit Janet Jenkins

I struggle to write about how it feels. Helen Calcutt has written a blogpost, shared across social media http://helencalcutt.org/2016/01/06/words-will-safeguard-the-spirit-eternally/ so I am sure she won’t mind me posting it here.

All this loss so early in the year, not to mention tales of friends and families who have lost loved ones over the Festive Season. It has been hard to keep buoyant New Year hopes alive with all this bigger things happening. Sometimes I feel guilty for pushing on regardless. It is what those of us left on the planet have to do though.

Headstrong fragility is the state I wear this week. There are many of us walking in this daze.

Take care out there and tell people that you love them! x

 

The photographs were taken on a poetry day last summer. Walsall Arboretum/ Bakehouse Workshop – Walsall Arts Festival and in the evening Pre-launch event in Birmingham for Arts all Over the Place. Sammy Joe did a lot of work with 1 in 4 Drama Group, like myself she was a poet and dramaturge.

 

Reading, Writing, Submitting, Organising, Celebrating

Standard

A week of reading articles, catching up with writing and ordering poetry books (well I was online buying Mr G’s Birthday presents). I missed a submission which fell on Valentine’s Day. Mr G celebrated his birthday on Friday and then Saturday was busy celebrating Valentine’s, so any writing that wasn’t finished by the weekend didn’t get written at all.WP_000735

Writing diaryI spent yesterday writing – for about 5 hours, I am working on some performance poetry about Ghosts – which is hard for me as I tend to avoid this subject, in fact whilst I was immersed in YouTube research I started getting chest pains, that was a tad scary. I have yet to finish my poetry for this set at the end of February, but I am glad I attempted the challenge and have written some poems which wouldn’t have existed otherwise. I was also working to a submission deadline. I like to find opportunities to support and promote Mental Health, after what I have been through, part of my goals is to use writing as healing with others at some point eventually. I wrote a couple of poems for the rethinkyourmind, they should be live on the website in a couple of days, I will let you know.

Rather excitingly I ordered 2 new poetry collections, I bought Maps & Legends in Nine Arches Press sale at the end of January, my Forward Poetry Collection arrived on Saturday, just 2 days after I ordered it – along with Mr G’s presents. I have treated myself to a short bed-read on my first day off and am now online preparing for some writing time before I go out.

© 2015 Forward Arts Foundation

© 2015 Forward Arts Foundation

It is important for writers to read and keep up to date with current trends. Treat yourself, if you can’t see it as research.

I also completed some research on events and venues. Jill Peers asked me to be part of Malvern’s Mad March Book Promotion Event- 11 days of events happening around Malvern EVENTS I have finally decided however tempting other venues and days were that I am taking part in a weekend event so I am still free to earn money in the week.

It will be the same day that I am working for Writing West Midlands, but Malvern is no further to Worcester than my hometown, so I should be able to do both. More about this closer to the event (14th March) and after. Come along if you can, enjoy yourselves, most events are FREE. WWM

Daniel Sluman has been interviewed exclusively for AWF and I am delighted that the interview will go LIVE later today.

Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

Sonia Hendy-Isaac
© 2014

EXCLUSIVE DANIEL SLUMAN Interview COMING SOON!

 

From the Desk & Endgame for the Allotment

Standard

I am fortunate that work hasn’t really started, I am on call but the 1st few weeks can be slack as no cover is needed. This has given me a couple of clear days for writing. This week I found out about an exciting new opportunity to present work or possibly even a workshop for a mental health festival. I am writing my bid today. Yesterday I researched some Lit Magazines and read some informative articles which I will link you up to during INKSPILL. Then the wireless connection started unfriending me and I spent time writing with ink and preparing my set for the Poetry Lounge.

Today I am working on a couple of submissions and having come home with a scribbled list of ideas after last night’s event would like to get some writing done too.

__________________________

This evening is our last time up the allotment, we are emptying the shed, digging up the rhubarb and carrying long beanpoles (bamboo canes) home and then we are handing the land back to the council. It is quite sad, we have had the allotment for 5 glorious years and it has been a big part of our story (me & Mr G) …I plan to pay tribute to the past half a decade of hard graft and bountiful harvests, through poetry. This year will be the FIRST year we don’t carve our own HOMEGROWN pumpkins for Halloween.

me halloHALLOWEEN 2011 002

DSC04449

 

We are growing in our garden and still expect to fill the Christmas Dinner plates with homegrown wonders though.

allotmentallotment

 

© A.Cooke 2013

© A.Cooke 2013

 

 

When the Going Gets Tough!

Standard

This post is for everyone who has a DAYJOB and is also trying to forge a writing career.

This is probably how your mind feels most of the time.

Culinary disaster

©EmmaC 2014

 

I promise you this is not my culinary disaster (and although my friend posted it on social media, she probably didn’t expect it to be used on my blog!) – this is what happens if you don’t prick potatoes before cooking them.

Today the stress in my head (at the day job, from the day job, from thinking about the writing life I would rather lead, in trying to imagine the evening before it was even lunchtime!) built up to this explosive point… I felt like these potatoes…

If you have ever felt the same read on.

roses

©N Lewis2014

Even these beautiful roses have sharp bits.

No-one can have a perfect life, there are always sharp bits! I know a good few people lucky enough to be full time writers, they no longer have to balance that life with a dayjob, and even they still have sharp bits.

Remember living the life you dream of doesn’t mean you will lead a stress free, smooth edged life.

Dream, of course, but keep your head somewhere in reality.

 

1 denver library

Learn your triggers and have a mental list of how to get over the stress once you have made it home. Any way you can relax and let go of it is good. Here is a list of things that work for me;

 

  • Reading a book
  • Having a lie down/power nap
  • Taking a bath

 

      • Working out (I rarely do this in the face of confronting my stress – but it always works when I do)
        • Rage it out in a free write
          • Phone a friend and have a bit of a moan

 

  • Chill out with a magazine and a cuppa
  • Watch a film
  • Go for a walk

 

And remember why you are in this dual/ split life place to begin with.

motivation closer

 

 

 

 

Another idea is to visualise (and manifest) sometime in 2013 I created this board of dreams, actually a board of what I wanted my life to be – not dreams but reality! Some of these aspects are already coming true, it serves as a visual reminder….

 

visual

©N Lewis 2014

 

Almost central are the words THE SMARTEST DECISION I EVER MADE…

giving up my full time career after 14 years and with it the salary and the pension is okay, it is just that, the SMARTEST and BRAVEST decision I have ever made. And no matter how bad my day has been by 5pm or 6pm at the latest, IT  — IS — OVER! Whereas before there  was barely time to grab dinner before working away for another 5 or 6 hours. That 60-80 hour relentless working week is not sustainable – it is why so many teachers took strike action yesterday.

Finding time to write can be a challenge, if you do find time keeping energy up can be hard, but how worth it – think about how writing makes you feel. Better than most things in the world? Then keep going!

Try to hold onto the good days and let go of the bad – in the same way we let go of rejections and celebrate our publishing successes!

Just keep going!

motivation auth

 

 

Black Dog – A Wonderful Advert: World Health Organization

Standard

We do not talk about our black dogs – these are the kind of pets that society doesn’t accept easily, it is easy to feel alone. You feel like you are the only one on the planet with a black dog, but they breed widely.

This is an amazing awareness video from the World Health Organization and timely viewing, speaking with my doctor yesterday he said if more people could recognise the trigger he could help recovery quicker. It is hard to know sometimes though…. What I thought mine was wasn’t really it in the end.
Watching this this reminded me of how it used to feel 2 years ago, how I felt. It is incredible how far I have come. I want to thank my Black Dog though, because without him my life wouldn’t have changed beyond recognition, it was from my mood journals, gratitude journals and depression diaries that the writer in me re-emerged.
I am grateful – because I know rock bottom and I realise the only way from there is UP!