Do Paranoid Androids Dream of Electric Dicks?
Louise M. Hart
A week ago…
I don’t know what I do
Or don’t think
My thoughts are peasants
In a hollow pit of consciousness
By agents of truth
My eyes burn like cigarettes
Concealing my tears
From indiscrete tongues
My pain is as bespoken
As my heart
Into a world of words
That should remain
Like the existence
Of alternate universes
My big mouth
And like Morrissey
On an amphetamine trip
To writer’s hell
Reading reviews of his latest book
I am swallowed by solid earth
And realise that I am still ill
The hospital is no longer
A movie trailer
Blade Runner is terminated
Like reels of my celestial self
Today the Sound of Melancholia
Is screened throughout
My self-projected realm
One day, “I’ll be back”
In my delusory spacecraft
Gathering crazy diamonds
Beneath my silly poet’s hat
But for now…
Whiskers on kittens
Until I hurt
Never fear pain. Claim it and then, let go. Write a poem, paint a picture. Creativity sooths the soul and changes the world.
I am giving a FREE TALK about mental health and recovery on Jan 14th 1-3 p.m.
If you are interested in non-medical approaches to mental health/illness or my journey from mental health service user to published writer you are welcome to attend.
The talk is taking place at:
The Thrive Centre
5th Floor, Coventry Point
To book a place (places can be pre-booked only) please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tele Marion: 0793 4675237
For more details visit http://www.elementalwellbeing.org
I know not your name
For you arrive like a rush of blood
Spilling meaning upon paper.
Dry is the ink
Defining my mind’s imprint upon corporeality.
Dead is my natural pose
Above a laptop.
I know not your purpose
You, however, presume to know my own
Shouting words within my hollow whole
And threatening my soul’s duality.
Receptive to all sententious prose
-A figure of speech
MY RESPONSE TO HEAD SHRINKERS
You can silence me with pills
Deafen me with therapy
But, as long as I can think
I shall always be myself
A few days ago I finished editing my first poetry collection. This somewhat daunting experience has prompted me to evaluate my relationship with the form.
For many years my mental health and writing were interconnected; my moods and states of mind dictating the nature of the poems I produced. Frequently, distressing thoughts would drive me to lift a pen and pour onto paper the contents of my tormented psyche. I wrote for myself, as a means of expression and never contemplated sharing my pain. Thus, the content of my poems was paramount and form as irrelevant, to my world, as the pursuit of happiness.
Years later, I summoned the courage to submit a poem to a poetry competition. Having studied poetry at degree level and for my own pleasure, I was only too aware of my own literary ineptitude. My submission, however, seemed worthy in its employment of alliteration and metaphor and existed as a signifier of my state of being, at that time. Although I did not win the competition, my poem was published in an anthology and I was to see my name in print for the first time.
At that time, my poems acceptance for publication affirmed that I had some form of literary ability; maybe I was not the mental elf that my lack of self-confidence had betrayed me into believing.
When editing my poetry collection, I once again experienced nags of self-doubt. I can write…but…so what…half the world believe themselves potential writers or celebrities. The world is deluded, am I? A publisher had accepted my collection for publication. Nevertheless, publishers make mistakes!
Now that my poetry exists beyond the confines of my laptop, I can tell myself, with a reasonable level of conviction, that reactions to literature are subjective. Undoubtedly, some readers will dislike and criticise my work. However, there will be others for whom it is meaningful. Like the individual, a poem can be pulled apart, but will always remain a unity in-itself.
My recent preoccupation with thoughts of how I have wasted the last 20 years of my life, has led me to consider the plight of those who have been unable to pull themselves out of the abyss of despair. Like approximately 1 in 4 people, I am affected by mental health issues. I would argue that principally I am not a survivor of illness but a mental health system which, from its inception, has consciously appropriated and promoted misogynistic ideas and practices. Whilst men are equally oppressed by the tools pf psychiatry, differential narratives about sex and gender have determined differences in the nature and outcome of the treatment of women and men psychiatric patients.
Any discussion about women and mental health should be framed in a historical context. The concept of “mental illness” is the historically specific conceptualization of the notion formerly known as madness; lack of reason is re-defined by science. Men prescribe, whilst women eat the pills of their labour.
Hippocrates, the Father of medicine, first associated the notion of hysteria with female psychology. Women were perceived in relation to our biology, we were beyond the pale and out of our minds. Ironically, the first practitioner to extend the definition of hysteria into the male domain, was Freud. The founder of psychoanalysis who, correlated female hysteria with sexual dysfunction, also differentiated between neurotic and psychotic disorders, establishing the prototype for the contemporary diagnostic model of mental ill health. Whilst history indicates that features of psychotic illness have always existed, the nature of neuroses has changed in relation to socio-historic and cultural changes.
In 2013, studies in Britain and America indicate that mental health issues are more prevalent among women than men. Do wombs dictate moods? Is anxiety the product of menstruation? Why, if this is the case, do cross-cultural studies reveal that there are many societies in which mental health conditions, like anxiety and anxiety, affecting so many in western capitalist society are virtually non-existent.
I would argue that, although gender roles and expectations may nowadays appear more fluid, the contradictions and complexities of life in the western world have complicated both our social roles and the way in which we perceive ourselves. Anxiety is a reaction to life in the 21st century, the metamorphosis of hysteria and counter-point to self actualization. Thus, it is fear, that gnawing worm in the mind, that impedes our will to become. Realizing that we all have the ability to re-define, not only our own reality, but the entire social realm is the first step to recovery. No one is mere body, we are possessed of the consciousness to discover and appropriate our own hidden power.
I have finally resumed writing my new novel. Days spent without ink are days of inner torment. I am driven by an urge to create and a contradictory urge to be idle. However, when idle, the writer within nags and scolds me between my ears, like a voice echoing its distaste for a piece of human waste who simply cannot be bovvered. Today, I have not been idle and my insides are smiling, again. Sometimes, one simply has to hit the keys and move on.
Writing is not as easy as some people think; it requires not only a seed of inspiration, but a mind-set of discipline, which few can master. Why sit inside behind the mask of a laptop, when there is a world outside, populated by people consuming one another’s subjectivity, like flesh cream cake? Why? Because I have to. If I did not write, I would be in bed making love to my disease. Writing keeps me alive; it fulfils my dreams.
Hitherto rejecting the central tenet of postmodernism which professes the demise of metanarratives, my former selves embraced the grandest of narratives. Over the years I have identified as many kinds of “ists” and supported numerous “isms.” Driven by the search for meaning, I regularly argued with eloquence and conviction that it was preferable to follow a belief system than walk the path of nihilistic individualism. I am, now, beginning to rethink my position.
My huge, death defying social conscience has always influenced and, I hope, will continue to influence my attitudes and beliefs about the social whole. However, I have begun to question my sub-conscious motivation for clinging to certain prescribed ideas and ideologies. Subjectivity is lonely when one does not fit-in. Was I imprisoned in a crowd by myself, yielding like-minded others to enter? Was I committed to social change, or merely at an earlier stage of a mission to change within? Maybe I am a bourgeois individualist with thin skin. Whatever the truth and which ever side of me wins, I reject all labels; I am no longer an “ist,” I am LOUISE! Read my words and hear me breath.