Series I: The Woman, The Bisexual, & The Mental

Wearing a dark-blue and white checked flannel shirt with blue jeans, suede boots and her shoulder-length curly hair bouncing as she sat down for our interview, Joanne’s bubbly attitude is mildly infectious. In a cheerful start to the conversation, she begins by expanding on how her day was, fidgeting and swinging on her chair.

Possibly nervous, or out of habit, Joanne kept her replies quite brief, brushing over some topics. So when I asked what she had been (self-) diagnosed with, I was unsure of how much she would reveal to me.  She began: “depression and a few other things that maybe spun out of depression, so as a result of that self-harm and stuff around that really” was her abrupt reply to my question. I probed further.

“I would say my worst experience with depression was probably February. When I knew I felt ok it was probably mid-September…I felt like it wasn’t as much of a burden waking up every day. I kind of knew that I had enough to approach each day whereas before I didn’t feel that way, or less so perhaps.” Continue reading

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Series I: The Woman, The Black, & The Mental

Compassionate, considerate and creative, Debbie has one of the most genuine souls I have encountered. She emits a gentle warmth, a beautiful dark-orange air being the best description of her aura. Maybe not as uplifting as the morning sunrise, but calming and soothing like the sunset. Full of emotion, which has at times proved detrimental, Debbie has grown considerably over the years whilst keeping many of her distinct characteristics, showing that she has and will always remain true to her foundations. Admirably, she has been able to adapt to the battles she has been thrown into. Dodging destructive friendships, weathering the storm of a heart-break, and emerging victorious from her war with depression, anxiety and self-harm, her past has made her strong enough to deal with her future.

It’s been two years since Debbie last self-harmed. Although she still has bouts of depression, her experience over the years means she is now able to accommodate for moments of extended melancholia, coping with it in ways she feels most comfortable. Most recently she has been slowly slipping back into depression after returning from an exciting journey in what was once known as the land of the flowers, off the Gulf of Mexico. Not being able to pinpoint why she has been feeling down, she has decided to just let it pass, speaking only to her boyfriend about how she feels.  Continue reading

Series I: The Man, The Gang, & The Mental

From tears of joy to painful nights sobbing over the death of friends and relatives, living in Brixton for over 10 years has played an enormous role in my upbringing. The nights spent laughing over games of FIFA and COD, and chilling in the park after school are some of the best moments of my life. Journeys from Myatts field, past the numerous dirt-white and grey estates, to Somerleyton, where I was regularly greeted by the Jamaican residents who were hanging outside the cornershops or sat outside Somerleyton’s own set of estates, will forever remain with me. But where there is light, we must acknowledge the darkness. That darkness was the thriving gang activity.

Notoriously known for its gangs & violence, Somerleyton has always been an infamous area. Angel Town more so, with Myatts Field having a reputation of its own. I am not ashamed to say I knew, and was friends with some of the gang members. Brixton has been, and always will be, home for us. Although I was never in a gang, and had no desire to be, we all looked out for one another. So it was not strange to shiver as the all too familiar feeling of brotherly love fell on me as I sat with Patrick discussing our past. As a reformed alcoholic and drug addict, Patrick had a long history with the local gang. Continue reading

Series I: The Man, The Black, & The Mental

Left, right. Front, side. I look around to make sure the coast is clear. A ritual many young black men are accustomed to. Clear. It’s ok for me to make my way to my destination. Call it paranoia, call it fear, but survival is our number one priority. The dread of being attacked, robbed, or even worse, the panic that your mother will hear about your death from a 10 second clip on the BBC news is not amiss amongst young black men.

Coming from a working-class background where my environment was painted in blood-red somber situations, each day felt like a constant battle for your life. A disproportionate number of young black working-class men have internalised this constant fear. They no longer acknowledge that there is something wrong with instinctively looking over their shoulder at each corner they turn, or averting locking eyes with black boys in an area you are not familiar with.

Briefly touching on the topic in a previous piece, I begin my mental health series looking at the black man. What does it mean to be a black man… More specifically, what does it mean to be a working-class black man growing up in a troubled environment? This is a loaded topic and cannot be covered in a simple blog post. Still, I hope to depict and shed light on some of the causes of poor mental health amongst black men.  Continue reading

A Letter [7DTH]

As I sit writing in this dimly lit room, it is only fitting I call this blog post A Letter. This is a letter to my past and present, a letter to all those I have loved and hurt. This is a letter to myself.

Close to three weeks ago, nauseous, light-headed, weak and trembling, I stumbled off of my train from London to Coventry. Millions of thoughts crossed my mind; still my focus was on getting home as quickly as possible, ensuring no one would see me in such a state. As I mumbled to the cab driver my address, I looked at my reflection from my phone screen, unsure of who to call. No. I had no one to call. My first anxiety attack … and I had no one to call. Well, it’s not that I had no one to call; my pride just stopped me from admitting how weak I could be. I fell victim to my own inadequacy.
Continue reading

Faceless Wounds [7DTH]

A shell of my former self.

Empty beer cans and

cigarette snubs,

series of unfortunate events,

bad news never wonders alone. 

I am haunted by the shadow of death,

Frightened by the looks I will get.

From ashes to ashes

Dust to dust 

As I shoulder my cross

My burdens 

My loss,

I pitifully concede.

My heart bleeds,

in my darkest moments 

yet I do not speak up 

I do not speak up 

For reasons I cannot admit.

I am already weak.

It’s been a week

And you haven’t heard me speak.

Still one day I hope,

One day I pray,

You can take this pain away.

The Final Stand [7DTH]

Living in an abyss,

free-falling into darkness…

My thoughts are suffocating my soul;

strangling my heart;

destroying my mind…

Tired of looking for peace in a world 

that thrives on our pain.

Death isn’t a choice.

It’s merely a formality to the other world.

A better world.

Where the grass is green,

and peace is not just a word,

and pieces of our hearts aren’t just toys 

for the world to play with.

No longer seeking clarity from others,

only the reaper has the answers.

Call my words grim,

call my actions sins.

Still, our final breath 

is like the sigh of an angel…

A sigh of relief.

Lost Love [7DTH]

As she whispered sweet nothings in my ear, I realised that’s exactly what it was. Nothing. There was no love, no commit, no lust. Just a couple, lost in transition.

From loneliness to false romance, her insecurities were wrapped in empty promises and pain-filled yesterday’s. Anxiety being her only friend, and depression her father; there was no messiah for this fallen angel.

As we had a discussion on a past she no longer remembered, where overthinking was a way to pass time, till time passed us, and soon it was too late – too late for the future she dreamt of as a child, she realised she was living in the shadow of her wishes.

I wish we didn’t live in should’ve beens and could’ve beens. Alas, those lost words fell on deaf ears. But maybe these words can save you. Pick up the rose young child, and keep dreaming. It’s not over.

Love and Death [7DTH]

Fallen angels and fallen petals

nothing left to save us 

except our faithless ways

for we are merely sinners,

Merely mortals, merely 

lifeless bodies and fleeting souls.

Love no longer lives here,

only death resides

in our brittle bones 

and bloodless veins.

Yet we remain vain 

When there is nothing to see

Except for an empty shell

An empty me.

Just another day 

In this lifeless body

And characterless soul.

As fallen angels 

we have a duty 

to save ourselves 

and those who pity 

The dead and the broken.

The tears from the fallen

Swimming across pale

Blood-drained faces

Praying love will prevail 

Yet only time will tell…