Easy

It is not easy
being so sentient
in an anaesthetised world.
I try and fold my feelings
into little origami ships.
Hope they will sail
nonchalantly into
a world where
life doesn’t sting,
anymore.

I can pretend it
doesn’t hurt.
Pretend I have a
heart of polished granite.
I can pretend that feelings
must only feel like
fireworks in the
new year’s sky.
That to feel is
to loiter somewhere
on a permanent,
spiritual high.

But I know
to be real
I need to feel
the stain
of salt kissed tears.
To sing the pain
as it washes through;
it never stays.
And I know I am there,
sometimes.
Origami ships are fragile,
and my skin is like
tissue paper,
and I absorb
the world at times.
And it can be too much.
Sometimes.

But,
it never stays.

Sarah Drury. 2021

Care in the Community

In 1986, the UK started the countrywide closure of the mental asylums, which housed over 100,000 patients, who were moved into the community. It was a noble act but very difficult for many of the former patients, who had to live amidst prejudice and ridicule. They were often treated with fear and suspicion by others, and ostracised from the rest of society. My great grandma was one of these people, and she found it very hard to leave as she had become institutionalised. This poem is looking through her eyes…

They shut down all the asylums,
din’t they.
Lofty, archaic ceilings,
echoing cries
of institutionalise.
Faceless Freud-styled fodder,
clothed in layers of regulation.

Pluck out my eyes so
I no longer see
the haunting corpse
of a ghost of a spectre
of a prison.
That crushed me
in fists of banal sterility.

They shut down all the asylums,
din’t they.
They kicked us onto streets.
Into people,
into mocking,
into laughter,
into ridicule,
loonies, nutters, crazies.
And we don’t know where we live anymore,
us half-breeds.
Walking around in polyester frocks,
yet floating in visions of hospital smocks
and medication time.

Care in the community,
they call it.
Well, it’s shit.
Cos the community don’t care,
and us crazies don’t care,
and we try to get by,
and the people stare,
and they call us freaks
and they whittle away
at our fragile egos,
crushed, broken and weak.
Like discarded eggshells
not Faberge.

They shut down all the asylums,
din’t they.
Freedom should taste like haute cuisine.
But when you’ve learned to live
within a bubble of lithium, valium, Ativan,
something’s got to give.
Imperfection is perfection
in a kingdom where the crazy rule.
But step beyond the lock and key,
to the world where
the weak and troubled fall,

and people cannot help
their ignorance.
For dig to the bottom of
their cruel-school bones,
as you learn to dance
to the ridicule
and you put your face on the joker
of every card you’re dealt.
For the laughs are at you
not with you;
Cheap and how the hyenas choke on
their resonant, acid tongues.

But I live in this half-way world;
my legacy is a white walled asylum
and I hear that my penance
thrives on my fear.
Hail Mary,
hear my prayer.

They shut down all the asylums,
dint they.
The lies they told
with their penny pinching lips.
They told us it was progress.
And they told us it
was freedom.
And I sit here in my prison.
Of fear.

Sarah Drury

The Grace to Be

I feel like I have sunk into a place where I have been stuck for 20 years after I lost my career and life due to my poor mental health. I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and I now also suffer from anxiety disorder and OCD. I now have a psychotherapist, so we are dealing with the root of my emotions and behaviour patterns in a hope to move forward. I feel many people reach rock bottom but it is a chance to evaluate your life and make changes which are more positive. Sometimes you have to listen to your soul and intuition!

We are
Not magic porridge pots.
We scoop the need to be
unlimited vessels of energy,
Spooning more and more
until we reach the dregs
and then we fall into the pot
and drown in our incapacity.

Empty pots.
We smash them
with our shaking hands.
Shards of piercing ceramics,
on our fractured dreams they land.

Broken hearts,
broken minds.
Broken promises,
a life we left behind.
Plucking bubbles of hope
from the sun-risen air.
And I am there.
Chewing on fallen dreams.

Sometimes it’s time
to become an empty vessel.
Release the stress.
Stop the wheel of fortune,
before it spins into
an irreversible mess.

Stop!
Think!
Release!
Heal!
Revaluate!
Feel
your soul’s cry.
Ask yourself
Why? Why?
And what?

Before the fortune
comes the fall.
Pick yourself up,
hear your spirit call.
You can be free!
Just bless yourself
with the grace
to be.

Sarah Drury

Big Enough

I have searched the world for answers
Hurled my soul through
stratospheres of
God is this
and God is that
Jesus the perfect
on his right hand sat
And I ate up all the questions
and spat out all the dogma
Tasting the tang
of mental health stigma
masticated into morsels of
bite sized cosmos

And I ask the heavens
“Am I good enough for God?”
Should I worship at the altar
of the footsteps Buddha trod?
I’ve prayed for acceptance
For all my life
I’ve yelled to the deities
I’ve battled through
rough pain and strife
Lunatic, heretic, mother, wife
Is the universe having a laugh?
It’s slaughtered my dignity
with a hellfire-blade knife
and I hang on with a tiny glimmer
of hope

I’ve knelt down on one knee
to the Goddess of the moon
Pleaded to the archangels
Asked if my repentance
would be respected soon
Sung hymns to
a maverick’s tune
Praised and praised and praised
And meditated for days
Heart in a coma, head in a daze
Swallowed esoteric words
Which the new agers say
will lead to my enlightenment

I’ve laid on beds of crystals
Had hands lay upon my chest
Glorified the power of chakras
Searched the aura for the best
jewel in my spirit
I’ve eaten spiritual books
I’ve put God to the test
Cleansed my tainted soul
Burned the candles
Sacrificed love lest…
I meet my soulmate

And I ask myself
Am I good enough for God
As I cut myself down
And throw off my crown
And I meditate
And my heart creates
And the universe then satiates
And I hear a voice
A tiny voice inside my head
At first I couldn’t make out
the venerated words it said
But the universe spoke
and my full heart heard
And I knew it was God
who spoke the words

“Am I big enough for YOU?!”

©2020 Sarah Drury

Compliance

I owe my life to two things: my son and a drug called lithium. It is not an easy medication and comes with some harsh side effects. It can also be lethal. Here is my experience:

I chew the cud of psychological
plaster casts
A cow crudely masticating broken dreams
Oh, white lithium
Not so refined
as to be spherical
Choking the resistance
Laid dormant within me
Valiance succumbed by
radicalised defeat

My glazed eyes from
days of psychiatric praise
My mouth parched
Drinking deserts
Spitting out the camels
Yet feasting on the humps

I may be as animated
as a corpse
Chasing heaven
Yet pursued by fallen angels
My limbs may tremor
Swathed in tsunamis
as they tremble like
leaves tossed meaningless
in a merciless wind

And in my darkest days
I will be penning eulogies
Darkness clothes the weary
in roseless thorns
Yet when the leaden clouds
disperse
Joy becomes an ecstasy

“Euphoria”, sings the blackbird
delirious on Puccini
Taking flight on wings
of obsidian promises
Just as my mind
Grazes the stratosphere

The steady choke of conventional
pulses through my veins
A military equator
uniformly bleeding
regulated nonchalance

The tick tock passage
of the anaesthetised psyche clock
whispers in demands of compliance
And I dot the i’s
and cross the t’s
As the lithium punctuates my life
into fairytales
Not horror stories

©2020 Sarah Drury

Image by jessica45 from Pixabay