Mental health is a very real issue. Slowly but surely the world is beginning to wise up to this rather sobering fact and, when you consider how many of us are afflicted with mental health issues, I’d say it’s high time it was recognized. I’m not about to delve into the stats as I suspect most of these figures are plucked straight out of thin air to tick boxes. After all, it’s not like there have been any knocks on my front door to inquire as to my emotional well-being and we tend to suffer best when in silence. But it doesn’t take a qualified head doctor to tell me that I’m one such wounded stallion. Indeed, said gashes have been of the mortal variety in recent times and very nearly led to a full and final bleed out. While not suggesting that this gusher was anything other than metaphorical; things got pretty touch and go in December.
This piece isn’t about weeping out my sorrow so I shall spare you the grisly details on this occasion. But I would like to offer a little perspective as to just how low I sank during advent. I ceased washing, stopped brushing my teeth, dosed myself up with sufficient sugar to floor a water buffalo, smoked until my lungs could barely function, and generally abused my weary shell to the nth degree and beyond. Fortunately for me, a handful of similarly tormented souls witnessed my rapid decline and swooped in to preserve the last few grains of my severely tested will. And I’m under no illusion that, without them, I’d have been soundly done for. Amateur dramatics disinterest me, as does shooting from anywhere other than my soul when bleeding my ink upon parchment, so please allow me to assure you that shit really was that real. However, thanks to being seen when I truly needed that most, I came through this decidedly bleak period.
Right now, very few truly understand me. The past few weeks have been a voyage of rediscovery and I’ve been the most grateful passenger as it sure beats self-destruction. I’ve needed to be stripped right back to the bone, splicing any eroded circuitry using little more than the very blindest of faith. I haven’t taken leave of my senses and only those who have been flecked with the mental health brush are likely to appreciate that. But I have been required to follow my soul as my fragile mind was in a state of flux most severe. Damn right I’ve been vulnerable and this is the last position on Earth one wishes to assume once the mental bailiffs come sniffing beneath the veranda. But every last one of my actions have been vital to overcoming this scourge and I feel blessed to have taken each step from out of the darkness.
It’s not a good place you know. The darkness I mean. Once those shadows grip, breathable oxygen can deplete in triple-quick time. Indeed, a very sweet soul by the name of Jerica I know by the light she still shines, took her own life a few months back and this singular statistic alone shatters the very beating heart in my chest. Social media is a potent damn tool and can turn into your worst enemy once snap judgment comes into play. I may post some fairly dark shit but never once is it intended to needle or divide. Just unite. This is the whole reason I’m still sitting here now. I’m using art to heal and it has been working like a charm but still the edges come closing in around me.
All I ask is for the most basic requisite of understanding. Some of you have known me for a number of years now and I get that it’s been a topsy-turvy affair at best and Greek wedding at worst. But I have remained unerringly true to myself and certain souls reading this now won’t have lost sight of this. To them I can only say a most sincere thank you and, to anyone who has doubted, shouted or outed me for reasons they’re wholly entitled to, I can gladly rustle up a smile. Benign to the spine – that’s how I once described myself and I feel it sums me up rather well in a corpse’s shell. No harm, no foul. I’m not here for that. There’s no malignancy to this mind of mine, at least, not anything of threat to anyone other than yours truly.
In December I said goodbye to my son, until such time as daddy can get his affairs in order or his late teens, whichever arrives first. Just a few months earlier, my oldest friend died tragically when the car he was beneath dropped on his face and crushed it. Reasonably certain PTSD has been hanging around ever since.
And don’t even get me started on my spiritual sister Kelly, who has been battling cancer tooth and nail throughout this barren Fall. Having turned a fresh page in my life, I now have a fair old modicum of strength to fall back on and offer others. That said, my cuts are still very much in the process of healing and I’m just asking that people can remain mindful of this.
I reiterate – mental health is a very real issue. But these platforms are my truest sanctuary; the love and kindness of those who see me and any others fighting the scourge is our weary souls’ tonic. See me. Please. For I see you all most clearly and have nothing but love for every last one of you, regardless of what you think of me. I am true. I am real. I am sincere. And through the most otherworldly of love, I’ve now finally achieved crystalline. Am I broken? I’d say badly bruised. Am I deluded? Never less so. Do I have all the answers? Never was very good in test scenarios I’m afraid. But I’m a good guy with a lion-sized heart, kind soul and body that just won’t quit; so who cares if my mind doesn’t function in the regular manner? I’m just me. Please see me.
For my sweet sister, Kelly, who inspired this.
True. Real. Sincere. Crystalline.
Richard Charles Stevens