In eight days’ time, I will be giving over my blog to eight days of other poets’ poems to mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2015.

I won’t be using any of my own work, but I thought I’d write a small advance post about why I feel it’s important to do something for this week. The trouble is it’s a lot harder to do than it sounds.

I could keep this blog post straightforward and factual, and I will be sharing a few such factual snippets next week. For example, statistics show that around 1 in every 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year, with mixed anxiety and depression the most common mental disorder in Britain.

But hard dry facts are, of course, very different to the actual experience of having any kind of mental health problem or caring for someone who has.

I could tell you my own story. But I wouldn’t know exactly where to start, what to put in, or what to leave out. In some ways, for me, autobiographical articles or memoir are much harder to write than poetry or fiction where there is not the same obligation or duty towards fact, or the risks of unwittingly damaging someone else’s privacy.

Instead, I’m simply going to say that it’s because I am one of many, many people who has experienced depression at various points in my life. My poem ‘Luck in Depression’ over on Shadowtrain is probably the closest I can come to summing up my worst low.

But this year’s theme for mental health awareness week is mindfulness. While I don’t believe this alone is necessarily sufficient treatment for all people with all conditions, I do want to focus on the fact that there are people to talk to, treatments and help out there, and recovery stories.

A guide to mental health problems, topical issues and treatment options may be found on the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health A/Z.

And my own starting to come back from a very dark place and realise just how dark it was and that I still survived? Well, it goes something like this: So today I walked on the grass in bare feet. I could not feel it growing, I could not grade its green. But I could feel sun on the skin, and the smile pushing upwards like a flower.

 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
From May 11-17, I will be sharing poems on the theme of the mind, mental health and from a range of talented and generous poets. It is far from an exhaustive list of talented poets or poems on this subject-matter. It is a selection of poems from poets whose work I admire, whom I thought from their past work, comments or work might be happy to support this blog project and whom, all honesty here, I was also brave enough to ask for this, as I know time is one of the rarest, most precious, commodities for poets. I am very, very grateful to them all.