We like to think that we are unique. We’re not. Okay, that is stating the obvious but in this case the obvious is the best place to start.
A long time ago I was asked by a friend why did I write? It seemed like an easy enough question. So I answered that I wrote to communicate with other people. You see I am not a people person in life so describing me as a writer-people-person made perfect sense back then. I could stay in the background and sometimes folks might read what I say and just maybe they would make sense of it.
Looking back on it now, well it wasn’t really true. I wrote from desperation. There were changes in my life that over-loaded me at that time and I could not cope. I went into a depression that coloured my view of the world and the people that I met and those I held dear. I was not on social media. I was not communicating with anyone else. I used writing as a tool to try to get to know me. I can now write from another point of view and can even have some fun into the bargain. I could never have said that to the person who asked: Why do you write?
Depression was not greatly understood and the people who were all around me – colleagues, bosses and especially loved ones all depended on me. I didn’t want to let anyone down. I could not let anyone down. I had to keep going even though I felt that I was being broken up along the way – like bits of me were falling off. It is difficult to explain. I missed deadlines and my thought processes were confused. In the end I was just going through the motions. Something had to give. Thanks to my wife I did seek help and have had long periods where the depression has lessened. For a long time I could work. Like so many others,that came to a halt through redundancy in 2009. Since then I have been collecting a few other illnesses along the way that make it difficult for me to work. I do however have one role and that is caring for someone else in the family.
I am so lucky that I write as it has allowed me into a community of writers and artists who have obviously experienced similar things in their lives. Now being open about such mental health issues is not seen, at least in most quarters, as a sign of weakness. I live in hope that mental health issues will be spoken about by everyone that needs help.
Thank goodness we are not unique. Our differences matter more than we realise. We may experience the same challenges but we handle them differently and we can pass on what worked and what didn’t.
Please note that not everything I write is biographical. It is very easy to see things in poetry that the writer has never experienced first hand. When I have the time and the energy I love to write and I love to read all of my friends’ works on line. This community of writers and artists is really important to me. It will take a long time to repair the bits of me that have fallen off but perhaps that is not what is required; maybe I needed to grow a new me – a writer.
© copyright Brian Shirra 2015
Note – the above is a copy of a post that I made on Facebook yesterday. I was thinking afterwords that I should share these comments here to all of the people who have been so supportive and encouraging. Thanks.
(apologies to anyone who therefore may be seeing this again)