Performing poetry for mental health awareness

Mental health can affect anyone at any time. It’s estimated that around one in four people will experience difficulties with their mental health, yet despite this, there is still a stigma surrounding the issue. This stigma, in turn, prevents people who are struggling reaching out for help.

In 2014, my battle with depression reached a critical point. One January night, I ended up in hospital having self-harmed and let me tell you, that was one of the scariest nights of my life. I still remember the pain and the question ‘What have you done?’ running through my head. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anybody.   

Frightening though that experience was, it also woke something up inside me – the determination to never let things reach that level ever again. More than three years later, it’s still burning strong.

I always like helping people, but over the years, I’ve not only been trying to fight my own demons, but I’ve also had the idea in my head that I want to support other people in a similar situation if I ever had the chance. Naturally, when I was invited to a mental health awareness poetry event in Worcester, I agreed without hesitation. It gave me the opportunity to share my story in a safe place, with a supportive audience, through my newly-found ability to perform poetry.

Was I nervous? I was beyond nervous – my heart was treating my ribcage like its own personal drum kit! But once I began my first poem, those nerves fell away. It was by far my hardest set to perform, yet it was the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.

In the weeks that followed, I toyed with an idea – record the set and share it. So, after changing my mind more times than I can count, here it is!

​The one thing I hoped to achieve from my set of poems was to show members of the audience who may have been struggling with their mental health that there is help out there and that you should never be afraid to ask for it.

Whether it’s a close friend or your doctor, if you’re in a dark place, don’t hide away in silence. Though you might not feel like it, you have the strength inside you to fight your demons. 

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