There is a Light that will never come on


By

Louise M. Hart

 

The lights are on

But there’s no one home

He stares into deep mid air

And nobody would guess

That his mind contains

More colour and depth

Than the pint of beer

His tight lips slowly sip

In honour of the woman

He did not know

 

He cannot even remember

When he was diagnosed

Or how many times

He has been hospitalised

His eyes conceal the vibrancy

Of his near death urgency

And are blank with certainty

That life on earth

Is bloody hell

 

Emotional emptiness

Is his real disease

Not paranoid schizophrenia

He is the shadow

Of the former selves

He wishes that he had never been

 

If you should see him

Buried in the darkness

Of a Glasgow bar

Please say, “Hello”

He needs a friend

For he let this one go

 

Advertisements

Silence Speak Please


Every time I open my mouth

You rip out my womb a little further

I become as barren

As a November Sunday afternoon

My words severed

By your blade of silence

Your gaze reduces woman

To form of a symbol

Like a child bride

Groomed to perform

Acts against her nature

Or a virgin suicide

Wrought

By the penetrating power

Of men’s inequitable ideology

Tied to our conjugal bed

Your fist of masculinity

P

L

U

N

G

E

S

Into the clenched behind

Of my heart unbound

But, no one hears my cries

For my mouth is gagged

And my tears are invisible

To all other empirical, “I’s”

Thus, I bleed for womankind

For Magdalene, Christ’s castigated lover

For Malala

Awarded a prize

For surviving

Her own attempted homicide

-A trophy voice

Which, of course

She possessed, anyway

I bleed and plead

But no one sees or hears me

For like a maiden aunt

I have been castrated by mankind

Left to rot on the shelf

With the other unconsumed

Unconsummated perishables

Past my sell by date

Putrefying with middle-age

And disconnected femininity

I am…not that into me, either


I am Van Gogh’s emasculated ear

Severed to diminish feeling I died before I became real

Comprised of stories no one wants to hear

And rendered out of print, like an old fashioned picture book

Disproportionate in words and imagery

When I speak, the herd turns its heedless back

I blame them not, for my voice sounds sweeter when gagged

By those who hear only sounds

Transcribed by waves that are fluid, loud and clear

Shedding emotions, like translucent onion peel

I try to moo aloud

But no one answers back

Thus, as I sit alone in a crowd of crushing pain and fear

I raise my hands to my head

But find that it has disappeared

This poem was inspired by circumstances I experienced only yesterday. I joined a writers group because I wanted to improve my writing. But, when I sat passively listening to the group’s critique of one of my poems, I realised that I perceived my writing as not a projection of my consciousness, but as myself in a textual form. Thus, whilst I fully accepted, even welcomed, feedback about my use of language and how engaging they found the poem, I felt crushed when the critique disintegrated into an attack on the ideology and thought processes behind the poem. In a sudden revelatory flash, I realised that it matters not whether my writing is, “good” or, “bad.” I write for myself and if other people like it, I am blessed. To what extent the critique constituted a personal attack on me, I do not know. But, it saddens me to think a group formed to encourage people to write, should conduct itself in such a manner. If this situation had happened to some one else, I would have felt the same. I shall not go back to the group, but I shall always write.

Celebritising bipolar


In recent years, the number of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder has risen and almost every day newspapers strain with stories about the outlandish behaviour of one celebrity or another who, seemingly, is affected by the condition. The sensationalist nature of these stories undermines the seriousness of the disorder and the reality of the suffering it can induce.

In 1980, the psychiatric establishment in the diagnostic and statistical manual (D.S.M.) re-categorised manic depression as bipolar disorder. Whilst the former label articulated in unambiguous terms the defining symptomology of the condition, bipolar disorder is a softer term and more open to interpretation. Accordingly, the criteria by which bipolar disorder was diagnosed widened and, now, encompasses a broader spectrum of symptoms and behaviours which, formerly, were not attributed to the issue.

Many societies relate madness to genius, a notion which is very attractive to many of us who experience mental health issues. The profound and creative thinking that has characterised the minds of many of the world’s greatest thinkers and innovators is comparable to the cognition of individuals experiencing a form of psychosis, resulting from a bipolar type condition. Psychosis occurs outside the boundaries of conventional thought and reason. Whilst celebrity culture manufactures unreason, it offers the world few geniuses.

Perhaps, more than any other mental health condition, bipolar disorder lends itself to the creative process. During episodes of hypomania, creative individuals are often most productive, creating wild and imaginative art, music or text. However, hypomania, like celebrity itself, often culminates in burn-out. The reality of bipolar disorder is that, whilst it can be controlled and, even, overcome, in the long term it effects both the mental functioning and the quality of life of many of those who experience it. Thus, the twenty year old celebrity, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, who qualifies her coolness to the press and media in terms of sexual posturing and addictive behaviour, may not seem as attractive and entertaining, when she becomes a fifty year old crack addicted casualty of psychiatry and celebrity culture.

“I hate myself and I want to die”- Kurt Cobain


When Kurt Cobain died in 1994, musical history became re-defined; another distorted angel had been claimed, another voice estranged. When Kurt passed, the world wondered who was to blame. The propaganda train blew smokescreens over his remains and we crowded beneath, picking-up bones of (mis)information and reassembling it into forms which suited our own particular world views. That he took his own life is all that we knew; the rest was speculation.
I was touched by Cobain’s death. However, unlike the Take That fans, who wept and wailed when their boys disbanded, I did not mourn his passing. Rather, I celebrated by buying a tee shirt on which were duplicated the words of his suicide note. I delighted in observing the bewildered expressions of older people, as they read the text on my tee shirt. I had joined an alien race, a sub-culture defined by a dead person’s face.
Kurt Cobain was the guy who put rock ‘n’ roll back into my indie sensibility. The grunge scene rendering music more accessible to the common folk than any other since the punk explosion in the 1970’s. I remember watching Matt Dillon in the film, “Singles,” and wanting not to have him, but to become him, my oversized checked shirt blowing behind me in the wind of my flatulent youthfulness. I had discovered a scene I was wanted to embrace. However, knowing no other who wanted to join me, I played, “In Utero,” and hugged myself.
In 1994, I did not realise that I shared more with Kurt than a love of music; we were both affected by a mental health issue which was to affect the way in which society perceived both of us. He had become an icon of a lost generation, I was a lost statistic of an illness, whose name I dared not speak, for fear of retribution.
Although many have questioned whether Kurt Cobain really was affected by a bipolar disorder, in my opinion the evidence is overwhelming affirmative. His much hyped struggles with alcohol and drug addiction indicate a psychopathology driven by a need for self-medication. Many studies reveal comorbidity between bipolar disorder and addictions. It is believed that Cobain’s disorder was untreated, rendering him particularly susceptible to using heroin, an opiate with anti-dysphoric qualities and, I believe, his displays of hyperthymic behaviour, provide the substance behind his attraction to alcohol.
Many addicts are affected by undiagnosed bipolar. Amy Whinehouse, another member of club 27, possibly someone whose underlying issues where, also, undermined, due to the more overt nature of her issues with addiction.
Although bipolar can kill-if untreated, it is one of the more treatable mental health issues. Once, one when surrenders to the imposition of taking tablets, for many people, life can be lived with relative ease. If you are affected by mental health issues, despair not. Salvation comes to those who truly want it and are prepared to let themselves heal.