World Mental Health Day

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World Mental Health Awareness Day

 

I’ve noticed over the last few years there always seems to be an online awareness day/week/month for one thing or another. It’s hard to keep up with the endless number of good causes vying for our attention. Cancer, PTSD and of course things like Retinitis Pigmentosa and Usher Awareness month. The list goes on and on. But this month’s cause is something I believe that really needs more awareness and understanding.

 

Today, October 10th, is Mental Health Awareness Day and even in this day and age, it’s still a very misunderstood subject. Serious cases of mental illness sadly go untreated, and people are being detained and/or heavily sedated rather than counselled and supported. In other cases of less noticeable mental health issues such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety a lot of people still go under the radar not getting the help they need. One in four people are affected worldwide by mental health concerns, and I have been affected both directly and indirectly at various points in my life. 

In my late teens and early twenties, I found myself homeless. I became depressed and attempted suicide a couple of times as I felt I had no one. My amazing wife Amy suffers from depression and PTSD brought on by the traumatic birth of our youngest son Austin. Due to complications, she lost so much blood that at one stage we thought we were going to lose her.

 

In recent years since my diagnosis of RP I have slipped in and out of depression whilst experiencing regular panic attacks as my ever-failing vision let me down. The bad days are nowhere near as frequent now, but in those first few months I became consumed with anxiety. I became isolated because I could go out on my own or handle busy places and as I was completely night blind, evenings out were off the agenda. It’s not as if I didn’t try to get help, but the system was far from an easy process, and it took me and my family 9 months to get the assistance we so desperately needed in to place. Meanwhile the more pressure we felt financially, the more our depressions took a hold. 

 

Things are so much better in our lives now. My wife still suffers but we are stronger as a unit and I’m in a much better place to be able to be there for her.  My mental health struggles have made me the person I am today. My scars both inside and out stand as a reminder of all that I have been through and survived. I dedicate my life to helping everyone who struggles at times with vision loss. The poetry in my books has helped people all over the world in their darkest of times. They realise through reading my words that they are not alone, whilst their friends and family can use my poems to gain a unique insight into an ever fading world that some find it difficult to explain.

 

I’m feeling a frustration, 

build up inside of me.

I’m tired of all the accidents 

from things I fail to see.

Most people think I’m clumsy, 

just need to take more care.

As no one seems to understand 

and all they do is stare.

The confidence I used to have 

grows less and less each day.

To blindness journey I progress 

as more sight slips away.

But no one has the answers 

they’ve yet to find the cure. 

Feel terrified my futures set 

end days in haze and blur.

I feel I’m running out of time 

till what I’ve left is gone.

But I know I will find a way 

through blindness carry on.

I’m secretly preparing, 

for days when I can’t see.

I try to spare my worry, 

from my precious family.

Forever fighting guilt I have, 

of what it’s done to them.

Waste too much time in what might be, 

instead of until then.

The symptoms are invisible, 

leave those I know confused.

Feel every stranger doubting, 

expecting me to prove.

Some days I feel my eyes can see, 

then RP pulls me back.

Another of cruel symptoms, 

as retinas attacked.

Inside my fear is growing, 

spend more days now at home.

The hardest part of this disease 

is feeling all alone.

But that gives me a reason,

to tell you all my fears.

Hope those that feel the same as me, 

no longer hide their tears.

There’s strength to talk of weakness,

admit to days in need.

Together share times good and bad,

in every word you read.

#TheBlindPoet