It's World Mental Health Day and to mark the occasion I have decided to re-share one of my poem's. This poem is called numbers. It was one of my earliest pieces of work and a piece I'm particularly proud of.
The poem was written for the Archer Project and their Christmas Carol service; this has almost become traditional and I enter my fifth year there, a wildly more confident and deliberately articulate performer. I am endlessly grateful to the Archer Project for helping me move on from my addictions and criminal offending past. Grateful also for the platform they gave me, and for making me think my dreams of being a poet and writer were not just fantasies that most of us daydream about. But an actual attainable reality, one which is now beginning to manifest itself for me.
Writing and poetry for me is soul food, it is more purely addictive, powerful and emotionally evocative to me than any chemical substance I have ever tried. Books and writing stories were also a constant source of escapism for me during an abusive and troubled childhood. No matter what was happening I could create and write stories of courage and heroism, of overcoming adversity against all odds, I could in that world at least, have total control.
I was at a particularly low point with my mental health at the time of the composition of this piece, I was angry and frustrated. I felt I had asked for help but none was forthcoming.
This is a reality for millions of us across the country. Most suffer in silence, many ask for help, often the result is the same. Every two hours a man in the UK takes his own life, every two hours! Before your coffee break at work every time you watch a movie, another one dies, I was also incensed about this statistic too!
I've had a difficult past, but in no way do suffers of trauma or challenging circumstances hold a monopoly on stress and mental ill health. Often, some of us are sad, anxious, depressed, or suicidal with what might be to an outsider no external influencing factors. People's feelings and their mental health should and must be taken seriously at all times.
The statistics show that what we say dismissively is a "cry for help" is in many cases the one that ends that poor suffering souls life.
Please don't forget, every two hours! Only we as a society can change these figures. Men have this toxic self-imposed belief that it's weak to be vulnerable, I disagree, I think it shows true strength, and that is something we need to normalise.
For us, your partners, your dad's and your brothers.
If you are struggling and need help, don't hesitate to contact Sheffield Samaritans at 116123.
Numbers by Chris Lynam
"You know a little while ago,
I read some startling facts,
Some figures got stuck in my head,
And I just can't seem to put them back,
I read some sobering statistics,
That to me seemed just sadistic,
But the more I think about it,
It just seemed indicative of self,
And I need to speak to you today,
About our mental health.
So according to these numbers,
And I really wish these weren't facts,
But they're imprinted on our consciousness,
By these poor people's acts,
So according to these figures,
One in eight of us has tried,
At one time or another,
To take our precious lives,
And If that one doesn't blow your mind,
Then try this one for size,
The biggest cause of death,
In young men today is, suicide.
I said suicide, not homicide,
Or even heart attack,
So we just face this epidemic,
Apathetic on our backs!
And don't!! Tell me to calm down,
And don't you dare tell me to relax,
Because I am angry and offended,
By these catastrophic facts,
Because we should have seen it coming,
I mean we even saw the cracks,
And we asked the government for help,
They said they haven't got the cash.
But what about you!?
Why aren't you angry?
Why aren't you even sad,
I mean come on people,
Why aren't you going ballistic,
When you hear these statistics,
And for those of you that suffer still,
And may be at the end,
I'm sorry that we failed you,
That you think you have no friend's,
That we cannot see your suffering,
And you think it will not end,
And that you think your better off without, being a burden on us all,
I mean am I making any sense now people!?
I mean the writing's on the wall,
And for those of you who suffer still,
I've got yet this to say to you,
I know, what it feels like,
To have that black dog on your back,
When your trying to make him sit,
But he only will attack,
And I know, what it feels like,
To be sitting in the dark,
When your trying to find the light,
But can barely see a spark.
Our NHS is crumbling,
Politician's count their coin,
And we're all just here,
Disconnected from each other,
Like a mother from a child,
When it's ripped up from her breast,
And we said THIS is doing our best!
I charge this broken system is polemic and endemic of itself.
You know guys?
Lately I've been trying to find the words,
To do justice to this crime,
But my thesaurus wasn't big enough,
And I just didn't have the time,
These words have hollow din,
We grasped it with our fingers,
But it wouldn't let us in,
And we looked on it with open eyes,
But we couldn't see it still,
And we nearly had it!,
For a fleeting moment ,
Until we lost our sense of self,
And it became socially unacceptable to discuss our mental health.
I mean what Is with the stigma,
What is with the shame,
When will we ever be man enough,
To voice our mental pain.
So I guess this is it then,
We've reached this "epidemic",
This bubonic of our time,
I mean the tipping point,
Has come and gone,
it's lost to space and time,
And I want to know something,
Who keeps these totals tallied,
And keeps the books in line,
And tells us that every two hours.
Another man will die,
I mean what the hell is going on here?
Have we all lost our bloody minds?
And i also want to know,
If this is just a tragic game of numbers?
Is there even a highest score?
And what will be that number?
Before we say,