Today is 'To Write Love on Her Arms' day, a day in which we are all encouraged to write love on our arms, to encourage freedom of conversation on the subject of depression.
I explained the concept in yesterday's post, and mentioned briefly why it means so much to me, having suffered losses as a result of depression.
One of these losses was my friend Emily. Emily never ceased to make me smile, (I remember a teenage conversation, post church, that this wasn't the way to talk to God…the best way would be in a field, with a fine wine and a strong cheese…an ethos I still believe in) whilst all the while she hid her inner pain. I knew nothing of it, having spent the last year of her life living in the States, and failing as a friend. I only learned of her pain when I was presented with the news of her death. I still believe I have no right to mourn her death when I didn't do enough to celebrate her life.
Emily dealt with her pain through poetry, a way in which many talented and tormented women before her have done, women who have both been a refuge and a saving grace to me as I've buried myself in their works (Sylvia Plath, Sarah Kane)
I would like to share with you some of her work today, which was published as the collection, 'A Sinkful of Sky', posthumously (and can be purchased and downloaded here for around $3) but first I would like to share the afterword from her book, it has a strong message and is all the more poignant coming from Emily herself.
"Someone once told me (I don’t remember who, but clearly
someone wise) that a poem should stand alone, without
needing an explanation. I have tried to write, since then,
with that in mind. But, putting these poems together into a
collection, I gradually felt that I wanted to add something.
Almost that I ought to add something.
A lot of these poems are written from direct experience.
Nearly all the poems in Part II in fact. I have a long-
standing history of mental health problems, since my mid-
teens. It has taken me a long time to get to the stage
where I am now, where I’m (mostly) not ashamed to admit
to it. And I feel that it’s very important for me to contribute
in a small way to the general acceptance of mental health
I strongly believe that everyone should realize that it’s
okay to need help to stay emotionally healthy. 1 in 4
people will experience mental health problems, by my
reckoning that’s either you, or someone close to you. I’d
like to think that my poems afford a small insight into what
it’s like to be unwell. "
The following is her poetry:
God has dropped a cup
full of crimson paint into
a sinkful of sky
This was the room where we found her.
Sprawled over the bed in her sleep.
A wineglass in her hand.
perhaps not wanting to admit
they hadn't noticed how bad things had become.
But to me her intention was clear.
What gave it away was her clothes in her drawers,
folded just a little too neatly.
"Go swimming," he says.
I look at his face,
Is he joking?
I can't even make a cup of tea –
the thought of the whole process:
tap kettle mug teabag milk –
just makes me want to go back
to the dark world under my duvet.
I mean, honestly. Swimming.
So this post is for Emily and the many others who have lost their lives never had a voice, even post-humously.
If you're reading this and need to reach out please do, to a friend, a family member, or even a stranger, if you feel the urge email me – I'm not a professional, and that's really what I recommend, but I can listen, and sometimes that's the first step.
Love and hugs,