Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
Poetry has always resonated within the mental health community. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that so many poets share the same illnesses that plague us, depression, mania, split personalities. For me, the words of Robert Frost and Syliva Plath were my salve, the promise that I wasn’t alone. The sonnets of Shakespeare gave me hope that there was something better out there, something beyond the darkness that surrounded me. The only thing that has kept me going during the worst times are the words of my favorite writers and poets. I have too much to do, to end it now. I have a family, friends, the promises of more in the future, a sweet 2 year old niece that means the world to me. I’ve promised my Mum that I’m going to stick around.
Something I’ve discovered is that depression is a journey we take, just like anything else in life. Sometimes it’s short and ends on a sad note. Other times, though the struggle is long, and we take the wrong path, or turn into a darkened wood, we come out stronger on the other side, we start to see the beauty of the world again. Nobody knows this better than the poet, who struggles though existence until the bitter end. They are our brothers and sisters in the world of mental health. Some, like Sylvia Plath, are more obvious, taking her own life after prior attempts, years of depression and the popular “treatment” methods of the 1940s and 50s Her poems about her own death, about her attempts, reach out from the past to all of us who have struggled with those same feelings.
Others, Robert Frost for example, are able to overcome their demons and prosper. Frost survived, living out his years with family, some of whom (his mother, wife and daughter to name a few) shared his struggle with depression. He was awarded the Pulitzer prize, one of the few poets to manage such a thing while still alive. And hidden in his words…. a message to the lost. While many of his poems revolve around rural America and working on the farm, they also speak to a darker side and remind us to keep going, to carry on.
I’m always reminded that my journey has only just begun and that there’s a long way to go. But I’ve got to keep going, to push through. As Robert Frost said:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.