I recently read ‘Black Rainbow’ by Rachel Kelly, which is the incredible journey of her struggle with depression.
The main focus of the book is about how Rachel’s love of poetry gave her the solace she needed during the darkest of times, and how these words gave her the inner strength to deal with her depression, and eventually recover.
Poetry and prayer proved a valuable tool for Rachel’s family; her mother was also passionate about words and she was able to use these to help Rachel:
“Initially, my mother would read the prayers aloud. Luckily, her head was richly stocked with beautiful examples to which she introduced me. I also had plenty of my own favourites from long ago. Then I started to be able to recite the prayers myself, again and again, the words strong enough to bear the repetition.. They temporarily laid my anxiety to rest by fixing me in the present. It was as if the words had become embodied, almost physical in their power, something to hold on to and rub, like prayer beads for the mind. At other times it seemed as if I was swallowing them whole, almost as if they were nourishment for my wounded being.”
Rachel Kelly – Black Rainbow
Here is an Amazon link to “Black Rainbow”
As those of you struggling with a mental illness will know, you feel as though your world has been turned upside down, as if you have been sucked into a hurricane and spat out into a place that is no longer recognisable to you.
During these times it is important to have something to hold onto, no matter how small it is; something that you are passionate about, something that reminds you of who you truly are.
I related to what Rachel was saying in her book, because I found a similar solace in words. I have always loved reading, and while I was flat out at work I hardly ever found the time to read. When I became ill my passion for books was rekindled. I had the time to get back into fiction, and I also became interested in history.
My other love is movies and I found that I had days where all I could do was lie on the sofa and watch movie after movie. I really enjoyed historical movies, and I found I wanted to learn more about subjects such as the American Civil War, the assassination of JFK, the Vietnam War, World War 2, and inspirational people such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.
Simple words were a tool I used to try and deal with panic attacks. One of the paramedics who attended my home suggested that when I started with a panic attack I read something very simple out loud, ideally a children’s book; this would help focus my mind, and reading out loud would help regulate my breathing.
Kim and I have a big collection of books, but we were severely lacking in children’s books. Strangely enough a couple of years ago I randomly bought a collection of Winnie-the-Pooh books from a charity shop, and these were perfect for what I needed; so the adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and friends helped me to deal with my panic.
I have to admit that poetry never really did it for me but after reading ‘Black Rainbow’ I have begun to understand it a bit more. When you struggle with mental health you learn to look at things in a simpler fashion, and so I started to do this with the poetry in ‘Black Rainbow’; I ignored what I had tried to learn at school about the structure and complexities of poetry, and just focused on the punctuation (which is really helpful for controlling breathing), and the words.
There are so many inspirational sayings, quotes, proverbs, song lyrics and poems out there and I will share some of them with you, in the hope that they can help you as well.
The smaller quotes and sayings I will share on Twitter and the ‘And Breahte…’ Facebook group; whilst the longer writings I will post on the blog.
I want to create a collection that you can refer back to at any time, as and when you need them.
If you have any favourite writings that inspire and nourish you, let me know and we can and them to our collection.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.