An Unweeded Garden

An Unweeded Garden

O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,

Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!

Or that the everlasting had not fix’d

His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable

Seem to me all the uses of this world!

Fie on’t! O fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,

That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature

Possess it merely. That it should come to this!

(Hamlet, Shakespeare)

In a way, Hamlet saved my life. When I read Hamlet or see it performed, the extremes of anguish and despair seem to en-cloak my heart in empathy. If you suffer from depression and haven’t seen Hamlet performed on stage, I really can’t recommend it enough. I don’t know if Shakespeare was a depressive, but he was definitely a genius, and he seems to represent depression in words better than anyone else I’ve come across in literature or music. This is from around 413 years ago, and I still wish I could cry like a normal person when I read it. Why don’t people write tragedies any more? Life is so often tragic, the world is just as tragic now as it was then, so why does Hollywood demand optimism? Some European films have come close to tragedy, but nothing quite as sublime as Shakespeare, Marlowe or Webster (my personal favourites). If anyone can recommend me any truly tragic movies, please don’t hesitate.

Anyway, I was going to explain how Shakespeare, and particularly Hamlet saved, or at least changed my life. I’ve tried to write songs off and on for the whole of my depressed adult life. It is nothing other than torture though, when one has such desperation to find words to describe their mind’s life, and cannot gain any confidence in, or satisfaction from what is written. I picked up the Works of Shakespeare for some poetic inspiration. Boy was I inspired, I found impossible brilliance in the Sonnets, and just flicked back a few pages to feed a growing curiosity. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. ‘Oh, I’ve heard of Hamlet’, I thought, ‘I’ll just read the first act and see what it’s like’. I was hooked before Hamlet even appears, but more so after his first words of the play, an under the breath utterance of retort against Claudius’ patronising words: ‘A little more than kin, and less than kind’ (Act I Sc II). Not to mention the following speech to his Mother on his profound grief for his Father’s death. Hamlet’s Mother has the cheek to ask him of his grief ‘why seems it so particular with thee?’, his response is beautiful:

Seems, madam! nay, it is; I know not seems.

‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,

Nor customary suits of solemn black,

Nor windy suspiration of forc’d breath,

No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,

Nor the dejected ‘haviour of the visage,

Together with all forms, moods, shows of grief,

That can denote me truly: these, indeed, seem;

For they are actions that a man might play:

But I have that within which passeth show;

These but the trappings and the suits of woe.

(Act I Scene II)

This brilliance is followed hard upon by the astounding soliloquy quoted briefly above to open this post.Look how I’m being pulled by different threads of thought and inspiration, and not getting to the point, blame the bard. The point is that by the time I had finished reading this sublime tragedy, I knew that I wanted to study English. Now that might not sound like a big deal to you, but to me dear reader, it was a new direction that wasn’t down, and if I hadn’t changed direction I’m not sure how much further I had to fall, so there’s how the play-write may have saved my life. My only disappointment with the English study so far: not enough tragedy. But then again, my mind is tragic enough as it is.

As always, dear reader, your thoughts and responses are welcome and encouraged. Maybe you’ve had a similar epiphany on something completely different, I’d love to hear about it. Thanks for reading.

L

People!

Wow.

How well and truly flattered I am to find that people are taking an interest in me and my story. Thanks to those who have visited/followed so far.

I’m nothing special, I realise how many people suffer from mental health problems. But surely the very fact that so many people do without ever broaching the subject in conversation is something which merits discussion? Why the stigma? My friends have known there was something ‘wrong’ with me for years, but a casual acceptance and avoidance of the subject is their approach. All well and good, I know they would be there if I was desperate, but the fact is I would have to tell them or plead for help, which just isn’t me. Anyway, I don’t want to be known amongst my peers for being the one who drags conversation down a muddy trench in which no one is comfortable, why would I? I think I’ve become a pretty good actor from my daily performance of the ‘brave face’, not to mention my mind regurgitating passages from Hamlet into my thoughts on a regular basis. I’d much rather be internally considering ‘whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them’ (Hamlet), than outwardly exercising my right as a friend to be cared for and listened to.

If any of you, dear readers, has a different approach to mental health amongst their peers, I’d love to hear your experience. Here’s a haiku of mine which accepts all of our differences:

Haiku on Being

To be,

It seems to me,

Is as subjective,

As not to be,

 Isn’t.

Any thoughts are always welcome,

L

And Also…

My first (last) post left a few essential things unsaid. Consider this an extension of my introduction. One central aim of this blog is to document individual experiences of depression and anxiety, and my efforts to achieve an eventual (ever hopeful!) gradual recovery from my loathing of existence. ‘What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals, and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me, no, nor woman neither’ (Hamlet, Shakespeare).

If I do manage to ‘change my mind’ in a literal and positive sense, it will be the art forms of literature (I’m studying English language and literature), poetry, music, and theatre to which I’m most indebted. To some extent I’ve made some recovery already, I tried to kill myself in 2010 and now I’m glad I didn’t succeed, so that in itself must reflect improvement. I’m by no means cured though, I’ve just managed to gradually improve my situation over time by making changes where I can, and accepting a myriad of flaws. Since I embarked on my second attempt at getting a degree, I’ve started to appreciate the therapeutic value of writing. I have about as much natural motivation as a stone has blood, so I’m theoretically making my own here. Your input, dear reader, could literally change my life. I bet you don’t hear that every day, but there may be some kind of compassionate community in this blogging world which I’ve been missing out on. Discussion of our problems with others really helps us understand ourselves, and I’ve just realised that my mind is taking me off the beaten track again. Anyway I intend to document my poetry and music on here as I go, not in any particular order, just whenever I feel they’re appropriate. Thank you for reading, please do make this a discussion rather than a monologue, I’d value your thoughts over mine.

L

Hello, Blogging World.

Dear reader,

I’m L, a mental health statistic from Wales. Depression and anxiety are just words, I hope to depict what they actually mean in a sporadic, disorganised stream of mental wanderings and experiences. If I were to organise these in any way, then they wouldn’t represent my mind, which is a cluttered hurricane of thoughts, some of which pass too fleetingly even for myself to catch their drift. Sometimes I might use my poetry to explain things differently, such as now, to let you have a good scratch around the surfaces of my mind:

The Eye of the Storm

Reaching the eye of the storm in my head

Akin to loss of gravity and time

Parameters of such restraining strength

Loosen, lighten, and release my mind

It is only here that I feel free

A limitless expanse of weathered slate

Island refuge from ferocious seas

Frees me from the will to contemplate

The horizon’s dark conspiracies

Its raging ocean storm attenuates

All light before it swallows all my pleas

Colours blackened by the swelling seas

Quick as that world within an atom came

My mind’s eye is flooded once again.

Just to contextualise that somewhat, I wrote that while in the ‘eye’ of a nervous breakdown. I don’t cry often at all, my emotional emptiness won’t allow me, but sometimes there’s really nothing I want to do more. That universal indicator of despair just doesn’t manifest in me, that is until a breakdown. When the floodgate breaks, damn do I know it. I’ve cried so long and hard during a breakdown that my whole body reached a state of complete and utter numbness, with almost soothing waves of a pins and needles-like feeling, and most welcome of all, an absolute stillness of thought. This is the ‘eye of the storm’, and the only time I can ever truly possess a clear head. Trouble is, it never lasts long, and only comes around once in a blue moon (not that I want a breakdown a day). It really is a blissful, meditative state though, just a shame about all the volatility surrounding it. I referred to this state as a ‘world within an atom’ because a clear mind really is another world to me, without all the torturous mental interference and physical constraints of daily life: ‘I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams’ (Hamlet, Shakespeare (1603 ish?)). 

Anyway, I don’t want to ramble on too much, this was supposed to be a general introduction to me but as usual I’ve been drawn down a particular thread of thinking by my complicated brain. This blog’s main purpose is to provide an outlet for my thoughts and frustrations, maybe even some positivity every now and then. If you have anything to say on what I’ve written, whether you can relate or not doesn’t matter, the brain is the most complex thing that we know of in the Universe, so does anyone actually entirely understand another person? Trying to understand each other though, on an individual level and on much wider cultural, religious, and political levels, seems as important as it has ever been right now. We are all related, and we must remember that. So let’s try to discuss things on equal terms, listen to each other, no prejudice or judgement. It doesn’t even matter what we talk about, or who’s talking, just that communication breaks down barriers. So as nothing will come of nothing, I’ll see what comes of this.

L