One person’s label is another person’s window.
My journey to accepting my diagnosis, coming to terms with what it specifically means to me and how it impacts on my identity and the way I perceive my place in the world, will never be finished.
My mental health diagnosis colours my conversations, impacts the opportunities I pursue or let slide, and what I tell myself I’m capable of.
Yet, it also helps me be kinder to myself. I don’t have to work 40-hour weeks to be successful. I don’t have to have the latest things to have self-worth. I don’t have to force myself to become someone I’m not in order to belong.
Writing poetry is an investment in my health. Investing time and energy into writing and other self-care activities like counselling saves me, or at least prevents me, from falling into that abyss.
An abyss that looks appealing at first – I feel sexier, shades of colour are more striking, I have less inhibitions and I have puns falling out of my mouth – but which is hugely threatening if I just let it run its course.
When I’m experiencing a high, I also go through this thing called hypergraphia – which for me takes the form of pressured writing. I can’t stop writing. I can’t buy notepads quickly enough. I take the things with me everywhere I go, terrified that I’m going to let a brilliant idea speed past before I’ve captured it on paper. This is a good thing for a writer, right? Well I do feel more creative and some of my poems have come from this state of mind. But it’s relentless, too.
Some of the poems I share with you here have come from that state of mind. It’s my raw self showing up and trying to make sense of things in the moment.
My obsession with language has helped me see the beauty in some odd places, helped me locate my experiences in my body and my spirit. It helps me individualise and soften the diagnosis and the cold, scientific terminology that lands on our laps. After a diagnosis, we are placed in life’s changing-room with this massive ever-shifting mirror. We learn to try the label on, turn it around and look at it from different angles, see how we can get it to fit into our stories and our new sense of self.
Compassion Poetry was born of a need to explore, to understand, to heal and to grow from some really odd times. To create a body of language that authentically fits, that’s comfy like the maternity knickers I refuse to let go.
And yet, it’s not just about me. It can’t be.
When I’ve shared my poetry in the past, I’ve had friends come to me and say it has given them permission to share and own their story.
Compassion Poetry is my way of exploring the pain, hope and healing of life’s challenges on the page. Through my poetry and essays, I share my insights on mental unwellness, motherhood, miscarriage and marriage, and any other topics that capture my pen.
My hope in sharing my self-compassion with you – my gorgeous, talented, worthy reader – is that you can show more compassion towards yourself and, in turn, show more compassion to the world.