Mental Health Monday – I Stand in a Rain by Bruce Carver

One of our group members, Bruce Carver, approached us with this piece about mental health; specifically, his mental health. We are starting an ongoing feature called Mental Health Monday, and what better way to start than by sharing this candid guest blog.

A picture of a rainy street
Even on sunny days, Bruce felt the rain.

The “voice” I could hear, along with the “rain” I saw on sunny days became something I quickly learned one does not talk about. With anybody. For any reason. That and the ridiculous sadness which soaked me for most of life. These were symptoms of the crazy, the loony, the unstable. I managed to tuck them away for a long, long time.

I hid in books; fantastical tales of imaginary worlds, works of the future. I travelled far and wide with histories of forgotten realms and hidden countries. But that was only a stop gap. I had to participate in class. Socialize with my family and friends. I always felt I stood out, a stalk of milkweed in the flower garden. I needed something to help me hang on and get through the business of growing up.

A picture of a crowd at a concert
I learned to drive for the purpose of being able to get to more shows.

That’s where music came in. I listened to radios, records, tapes of bands, snuck into shows. I learned to drive for the purpose of being able to get to more shows. I would drive. Friends would pay for the gas and my coffees. The shows meant everything to me. There was no way I wanted to be wasted and forget the awesome music I had come for and I would replay in my thoughts over and over. It gave me a high unlike anything else. It helped push the voice to the background. It did little for the rain. The sadness would come and go. But there were times when I should have stayed put, not gone out. Really bad times. And I started to drink whiskey.

Fast forward some twenty years, and the sadness and the voice and the rain remained. I started talk therapy. Because I did not want a label, a sign that said I was damaged beyond the norm. This worked, somewhat. I felt hopeless. I couldn’t shake the depression anymore. The bands I loved to see where fast becoming no more. The shows were fewer and fewer. The whiskey grew in importance. It dulled the voice. It erased the sadness. I felt alive again.

A picture of a bar sign
Bruce became a full-blown alcoholic

Oh, it took a while, a long while actually, before I became a full-blown alcoholic. So, I quit drinking. Got help for that. And somewhere along the way I looked at my fragmented life and decided I needed real help. I made a plan.

Now, I am not “better”. There isn’t a pill you can take for a lifetime of ignored mental health. It’s a process, one full of questions. The voice is gone. The sadness is there, but not cripplingly so. I sit with it some days and we talk. Talk through to another day. The rain I see, remains. I laugh about it with my doctors, I call it visual tinnitus.

This is a very condensed version of my walk with mental health. There are hilarious tales of things gone wrong and crushing stories of things gone even more wrong. Perhaps now when you read my pieces, particularly the poems, you gain an insight as to what is that I see.

I stand in a rain

It’s gray, steady and falls on

sunny days

I sit on an empty beach

Waves wash over muscle

crusted rocks

Wind carries gulls and terns

A black skimmer slides a

wing width above the waves

Alone and estatic with, with,

with

all this

My name is called by you

By you who are not here

Not on the rocks

Not snuck up from behind me

Then I know

It starts again the constant

ringing of my name

And I scream into the wind

I am here

Stop god stop

I am here

My rain darkens into torrents unseen

My hands ache from the clenching

And in a stagger for relief

I walk for hours along empty roads

Whelmed in waves of

chuffed confusion

I have forgotten my errands

My responsibilities

evaporated into hours of grief walking

Slowly subsided in sure steps

I return to you, to me

And you cry at me

Where have I been

And in tears of frustration

you wave me away

Away from your side

And

Away into my rain

A picture of a man stood in rain
I Stand In A Rain

Thanks to Bruce for opening up to us, his honesty and bravery in sharing this. If you would like to write a guest blog piece for a future Mental Health Monday, drop us a line on info@poetsin.com and tell us all about yourself.

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