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

Therapy

I have started therapy a few weeks ago in an attempt to help with the crippling anxiety I suffer. It is amazing the depth of things that are surfacing. It is fascinating and challenging at the same time.

It was a good therapy session I thought
Peeling layers of a stubborn onion set in resin
Mining away at solidified feelings
One by reluctant one
Each clinging with skeletal fingers
to emotions echoing in empty halls against
walls painted in red acrylic
As I slit the wrists of memories
Heart exposed, emaciated
And I bleed

I spoke of mother, long dead father
How I am a child
A lost someone, somewhere, somehow
Yellow brick roads
No place like home
But I never get there
I am a chasm in a universe
A star without a sky
A tide without a moon
I swallow sky and devour the ocean
and my soul is still hungry

It’s good to talk
But oh, the guilt!
For I am not permitted to feel the spectrum
Nice girls swallow their anger
And pour the pain into a teapot
Tears are dried upon cupcakes of suppression
And emotions only paint a fictitious smile on
plastic, botox faces
But feelings lurk in wait, within my fickle psyche
Dramatic vultures craving penitence
Feasting on loss and shame and guilt
Having a welcome party
Mad Hatters in my therapist’s room

Sarah Drury

Hard Boys

The other night, a big gang of lads were hanging about outside my flats, causing absolute mayhem. Obviously off their heads on drugs and booze, they were shouting and just being crazy. I must admit I was scared, and it triggered a bad anxiety and OCD attack. I ended up going to bed and trying to drown out the noise! Here’s a poem I wrote…

Big boys
Hard boys
Loud boys
Lost boys
Riding the manic high
of your coke
of your dope
of your speed
of your blow
of your weed
I don’t care what you call it
but it makes monsters of your mind
Birthing obnoxious rowdy rebellion
Pissing off the neighbourhood
Like we don’t need sleep
and we haven’t got kids
and we don’t have anxiety disorders

And oh, I was living on my last nerve
Heart all exposed and wrapped in disquietude
Butterflies feasting on my gastrological angst
Head establishing a terrorist situation
Mind lost in OCD
And OCD is telling me
They’re going to get me
They’re going to find me
They’re going to rape me
This won’t end well

Big boys
Hard boys
Loud boys
Lost boys
Probably just having your laughs
And being rebellious teens
And chasing escapism from
Your lives of mundanity and tedium
Bit of coke
Bit of dope
Bit of speed
Bit of blow
Bit of weed
Sorted

Why my anxiety consigns me to Hell
I don’t understand
Threatened by a good time boy bunch
Your laughs slicing my psyche
like feel good knives
with blades sharpened in acid
Maybe I lost my inner child
Maybe she got lost in a maelstrom
of scared and fearful and afraid
The mind knows how
to keep me a prisoner
The mind knows
I lost my childhood

©2020 Sarah Drury

Strait Jacket

I am not an exceptional human being
for we all wear clothes
Slobbing around in PJ’s when
our tranquilized, minuscule world
is encapsulated
in a space called home
Killer heels when we’re facing the
fucked up world and we remember
who we are, and we straighten
our crowns
Perchance a smidgeon of warpaint
as our battle cries holler into
societal combat
Cherry lips and spider lashes
spun with purest L’Oreal

But I?
I wear a white strait jacket
White as in hospital issue
boiled to death grey
Sanitised and purity leeched
It looks rather smart with
my lithium eyes and my
lunacy smirk
I don’t wear it for ladies’ luncheons
as padded cells are lonesome bistros
And all that cutlery is contraband
And I’m not fucking Houdini

When my couture isn’t a
hospital inspired affair
I am living one
Valium junkie
Lithium chick
Watching the wall for
the clock tock ticks
which govern the drugs
which make me well
But make me sick
Don’t go high, you’ll crash
Don’t go low, you’ll crash
Can anyone tell me
how to score
a gram of sanity?

Does anyone want to
hold my strait jacket for me?
Try it on?
Wear it with me?

©2020 Sarah Drury

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Same Day, Same Shit

Anxiety
You annoying bastard
You fucked up
half my day again
I know I am swearing
But I’m past fucking caring
How was my day darling?
(I talk to myself
‘cos I’m the only one
who bloody well listens)
And how can I say it
but it was shit again
shit again
Always shit again

Wearing anxiety
like it was some fucking
loser’s pageant crown
But I’m no fancy winner
I’m going down, down, down
I thought I’d ring my nurse
But same old, same old
‘You’re doing fine’
as if a 15lb baby is
working its way
out of my vagina
But I’d rather be knocked up
than screwed up

Pop another pill
Numb another feeling
You’d all get on my last nerve
If I weren’t tranqued out
of my mind
It’s getting where I sort
of like the feeling
Head dead
Horizontal on my bed
Mindfulness
says my therapist
who thinks he’s Sigmund Freud
And I am mindful that
of all my lovers
Sanity is the most
Fucking jealous

©2020 Sarah Drury