rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
[personal profile] rhian_crockett
I haven't been paying much attention to this blog at all and I'm sorry about that, for however many of you are actually reading! Life takes over. In particular, it's amazing how completely a mental illness can take over your life. I have GAD and depression (also pretty generalised!), and sometimes it's all I can do in a week to keep staggering out of bed. Sometimes it's all I can do to make myself get into bed in the first place.

The fact is, I'm never sure how much of my identity to reveal here and how much to hold back; ideally, I don't want to hold back, but if that's the case, then why use a pen name? But I've decided, at least, that my mental illness is going to be out there. It doesn't want that -- these things hide from scrutiny, from consideration, and hate being held up to the light. And society doesn't really want that either, because we so often fall into thinking of Us vs. Them, and mentally ill people are usually among "Them". But I'm a normal person. I'm no stranger than any of you. That person you admire, who is always smiling, always perfectly put together? Maybe she cries as soon as she locks the door on the world at night. Maybe she's gone past knowing how to cry. That person who embarrasses you by talking to themselves in public might be CEO of a company in a few years time. There's no easy division.

So, I'm not willing to hide or let myself be hidden. For the next week, or as long as I can, I'm going to post every day about something related to mental illness. A book review, a personal piece, fiction, non-fiction. Links to other people's posts about the same.

All of it will be posted under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA: you're free to share or remix this work, with attribution.

The first post in this series is a poem. I'm not sure how much explanation-sauce you like with your poetry (and there's some pun on sauce and source in there, too...), so I've placed some thoughts on what I wrote under the cut at the bottom.

Non-Fiction Mood

You know what that means.
Things close in.
There's no world beyond the wardrobe,
no rainbow road to take me away,
no fairy ring in the woods.
Friends are blank,
go on their adventures alone.
Simile, metaphor, a perfect adjective,
all dry as a shrivelled heart
of someone who has never loved.
Tell me about wars,
the methylation of DNA,
the long slow excavation of a single tomb.
In the wonders of this world,
let me glimpse another.

One of the earliest signs I'm having a bit of a problem is my interest in reading. Normally I would read one or two books a day, given a relatively low volume of things to do. That starts to slow down. But even in my worst moods, curiosity can still keep me reading, which mostly means non-fiction. Hence, "Non-Fiction Mood". My English teacher in high school always said that the first thing that's important about a poem is the title: no word in a poem is ever wasted, and the title tells you where to start. It's something I try to keep in mind. Then there's the first line hook, a trick from fiction: direct address of the reader.

References to fictional worlds in the poem are fairly obvious, since I didn't overload it: the wardrobe refers to C.S. Lewis' Narnia, the rainbow road to the Norse Bifröst, the fairy ring most directly to Stephen Lawhead's Albion books, but in general to fairy mythology. The "friends" are fictional characters, in one sense. My mother always told me that books are the only friends that would always be there for me, but she was wrong: sometimes even they abandon me. Or so it feels. And then there's always that fear, when you know you have a mental illness, when you tell people about it, that they will turn away from you. They won't want to know.

Wars: most recently, I've been reading about the Wars of the Roses and have a whole new load of books on that to help me ride out this wave. The methylation of DNA: epigenetics has always been a fascination of mine, and a lot of that seems to have to do with the methylation of DNA (Nessa Carey's The Epigenetics Revolution is a good read on this topic). The excavation of the tomb mostly speaks to a lifelong obsession with Egyptian pharoahs. Also to Pompeii, though, which is like walking through one vast mass tomb. I don't think the thoughts and images I had walking through Pompeii will ever be far from my mind when I'm writing, now.

These things open the door for me, let me look at worlds I can't normally imagine but which are real, and which fill me with a sense of wonder -- not by my usual route, fantasy and sci-fi, but a sense of wonder nonetheless, and strong enough to reach through apathy and fear.
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rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
Rhian Crockett

August 2013


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