I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about mental health recently, and the response I have received has been incredible. My whole reason for becoming more direct with my blog about mental health was so that people felt they could have discussions, have someone to talk to, find a starting point, and I’m totally open to that here if you want to get in touch. It’s been great to see so many people have come out of the woodwork of my life and begun to ask questions, tell their own stories, but also wonder how they can help. Sometimes me, but often time people in their own lives who they find are suffering from a mental illness.
I came across this post on buzzfeed – a list of 18 ways you can help someone going through a hard time submitted by readers -and I began to think about the things that had meant so much to me.
The time my house-mate set up a den in our living room, made delicious pancakes and put on my favourite disney movie. Because ‘disney makes everything better.’
The time my friend gave up her tuesday morning once a week to drive me to therapy, sit in the car and wait, and then drive me home whilst I cried.
The friend who committed to meeting me for coffee after every therapy session to make sure I was okay.
The same friend who established a sunday morning breakfast tradition at her own house so that I wouldn’t feel anxious about going to church alone.
The friend who watched endless episodes of Dr. Who with me in the small, darkness of his living room.
But one thing on this list really stood out to me. Number 10.
‘Have a sleepover.’
As soon as I read that, I was taken back to the times at University when I was too terrified by my awful anxiety to sleep alone. With my boyfriend away at another university, My friends tried to help me manage my night terrors as best they could. I slept on friends’ floors, my room-mates came and slept in my bed enduring my need to have ‘Gilmore Girls’ playing on a loop all night long. One of my friends spent a whole night with me completely last minute, unable to leave me alone with my panic. He slept on top of my duvet fully dressed and holding my hand all night. One friend in particular took me in, made a bed on her floor, leant me pyjamas and gently woke me from my night-time panic attacks with her comfort and kind words. Although this poem is for all of them really, I think the most of her.
When all I had was You
Somewhere in the blue night,
between waking and sleeping,
I am awakened by my own red thoughts
with a gasp –
a child rearing out of the muddy, tangled waters
of my dreams –
their weeds burning my limbs and crushing
I cannot breathe.
Outside the stars are dark and gone,
the night sky an empty hole in the universe
which I am falling through.
The street-lights puddling their orange light
casting shadows on my heart.
But you are there.
A cold hand between my shoulder blades,
caressing my fretful wings.
Soft words sliding over me, washing away
my sweat and fear, and calling my back
from my need to fight,
You lie beside me, a friend,
a sister, a godsend.
In these endless small hours you are my
penitence, my altar, I cower at your knees
begging for comfort.
Benevolent always, you provide.
Your presence pours it’s way into my
broken mind, a blend of honey and lavender,
the balm of peace, and I am astounded
by your goodness, your power.
In my minds eye I am infinitely smaller, and
cradled inside your golden arms.
In the morning I roll over to face
the cold dawn and
There you are, my best friend,
with hair mussed and chipped toenail varnish,
lolling across the side of the bed.
The only evidence of the dark night
is the grey rings around your eyes
and that interminable groan when the
Your tremendous normality startles me,
but I know who you really are.