When we first met our longest running service user and now friend @squeakypeewee we were taken aback by how introverted, how timid and how broken she seemed. We also noticed the scars up and down her arms. As we got to know her over the coming weeks and we saw her transform as she came out of her shell; we learned that she self harmed to extraordinarily dangerous levels, often cutting deeply and narrowly missing critical veins.
Her anti-psychosis medicine was administered on an ongoing basis to contain the psychotic episodes within which she heard the voice of ‘Stargazer’ telling her to cut. Every now and again, she still had an episode. In the following piece she endeavours to explain it.
The edge of the whirlpool looms closer than ever before. Near the swirling void, I see and hear the power that seems to suck all life down into its murky depths.
A voice calls out to me, promising that if I put my trust in it, it will set me free. I fight the seas to pry away the torment that I know awaits, but the current is far too strong. I begin to slide.
I can see people throwing me lifelines as they watch my struggles, but they are so far away. I no longer have the energy to reach out.
Soon the spinning and sucking takes control and the frightening darkness looms beneath my feet. I want to fall, feeling like it’s the only way to end the pain I am going through. No longer can the blue sky be seen. Only the pitch-black endlessness seems real to me. As my body begins to give up, a spark inside says ‘Wait.’ Hope that there might be a way out helps me stay afloat.
The all-consuming force that is dragging me under suddenly halts. I drift in and out of reality, wondering what’s going on.
What is real? What is fantasy? Distinguishing the two has become impossible.
My soul escapes from its mortal prison and looks down upon the chaos. I see myself from another view and decided not to leave this body to rot in Dante’s Hell.
Somehow, some way, the strength returns, and I find a buoyancy aid come my way. With all that I have, I reach out and grab hold for dear life.
Finding the energy and understanding, I let all the power wash over me. Sink to the bottom, as that’s the way out. Some things are too strong to fight on my own, but now I have a purpose. Knowing people are throwing me lifelines, in the hope I snag one, has saved me from despair.
There’s no doubt the whirlpool will find me again one day, but now I’m anchored and prefer to stay that way. With pen in hand, I write nonsense during the time in which I’m enslaved. Secretly fighting against all odds.
My psychosis has the power to destroy, but I’ve found a way to counter that and will always look to those who see the real me. I will come out the other end, possibly battered and bruised, but stronger and more resilient that when the whirlpool first came on the scene.
Over the (nearly) two years since we met @squeakypeewee we have seen her change in so many ways. She is stronger, she has much more belief in herself and words. Her medication has been all but stopped and she has channelled dark times with words.
Above all this, she is now a he. Now known as ‘Luke’, @squeakypeewee overcame the biggest thing that was troubling him. That he didn’t want to be a she any more. We’ve witnessed this incredible transformation, and he has told us that none of it would have happened without the work we do in the prisons and the support of the worldwide community that is one of the very foundations of what PoetsIN offer as standard.
You may think you’re having a bad day and we’d never suggest that you’re not. But look at the challenges that can be overcome from within prison walls, and take some granite from Luke’s story.
Be strong. Be awesome. Go forth and write yourself into a better state of being.
Be a bit more ‘Luke’.