My first poetry book, ‘Soul Shadows’ was written during a three year period when I suffered from deep depression. Looking back, I can clearly see the triggers for my depression; redundancy, the end of a long-term relationship, my family moving 400 miles away. I became profoundly aware of how ‘alone’ I was, and it was the loneliness I found hardest to cope with. Not just the loneliness that comes from a feeling of physical isolation, but much more the mental loneliness. There was a bit inside me that felt ‘well, nobody understands me and nobody listens to me’. Friends and family tried their best to be supportive but nothing they could say to me helped with that feeling inside my head of being completely misunderstood. Depression was such an enigma, an unknown illness, a strange concoction of mental anxiety, and it was to be feared.
It took a long time, a lot of self discovery and soul searching to recover, but I made it. It was only when I hit rock bottom that I took the time to analyse every facet of my being and life. I found my deepest, darkest fears and confronted them, finding ways to release myself from their hold.
Writing was an invaluable tool in my recovery. I started jotting down how I felt, how I really felt, and suddenly there it was, on the page staring back at me…my very first poem, ‘Fragile’. Suddenly I had expressed just how vulnerable I was feeling, in words and self-understanding that had previously eluded me. The words of my poem showed me that I was feeling just as many people feel from time to time, and now those feelings seemed more normal, more human. I was no different to millions of others. This connection, then, this link to other people in the human race, gave some comfort, that I wasn’t truly alone.
And so I wrote some more, and some more, and at my worst moments, the times when I thought it would be easier just to end it all, I wrote. My first poetry book, Soul Shadows, was born. I find it an uncomfortable book to read in one sitting. There is so much emotion and pain contained in its pages; the poems became containers for all the disturbing thoughts that besieged me. When I read lines now like ‘Dark is the cosmos…’, ‘I am lost in the dark’ and ‘There’s a spirit here, struggling to get out from the dark’, I can really sense the struggle I was having, to see any light or hope in my life, at the time when I was writing a particular poem.
I then made the decision to publish Soul Shadows, although what possessed me to do so at such a time remains a mystery, perhaps I wanted everyone to read it and finally understand how I felt. To my surprise, people wrote reviews complimenting its honesty, telling me that they felt some resonance, some relatable emotion in themselves that they could link the poems to, and that they were comforted to see someone else in a similar position to theirs. That, then, was its greatest accomplishment. I had, inadvertently, brought people together through my poetry.
I would dearly like other people who are suffering depression to seek out their soul, and to dump their own ‘soul shadows’ onto paper, in the hope that it helps them in the same way that it did me.
I have come to think of depression as a part of our journey through life which should not be feared; it is a state of mind, and people can and do change their minds daily. There are always new days, new moments of transition, new wonders to discover, internally and externally. Embrace life, for that is all we have.
And so, I feel the time is right to release the book again, to benefit a charity that I wish I had found when I was depressed. The Maytree Respite Centre, ‘a sanctuary for the suicidal’ (http://www.maytree.org.uk/) recently saved someone close to me, and I am donating money raised from sales of Soul Shadows to support their work. All copies of Soul Shadows sold through this site will be signed, and contain a bonus poem (one of hope) inside the back cover. 100% of all profit from sales will be donated to Maytree.
You can choose the basic price of £6.99, or if you would like to donate more, there are the £11.99 or the £16.99 buttons below (adding £5 or £10 donation to the book price).
Thanks for your support!
Doodle credit: Helen Harrop
|Soul Shadows book (signed with special poem inside back cover) - £6.99|
|Soul Shadows book (signed with special poem inside back cover + £5 extra donation) - £11.99|
|Soul Shadows book (signed with special poem inside back cover + £10 extra donation) - £16.99|