Charles Bukowski, famously described poetry as the ‘ultimate psychiatrist’ and I am a firm believer after having written poetry as a child, who suffered with many problems in my life, like losing my father and my old school friends through stigma, and growing up in a dysfunctional family. Poetry helps me cope with shyness and communicating with both myself and those around.
Poetry therapy is the use of words to express oneself through thoughts, feelings and behaviour for therapeutic gain. I add personally that the empathy I gain has led me to achieving a well-balanced state, as I emerge from paranoid schizophrenia; in that my delusions are very hard to let go of, and the language structure and majesty of poetry eases my symptoms. By using a ‘poetic voice’ I am able to clarify my thinking, and use my thoughts to analyse what insights and conclusions I may have missed in my understanding. I can also read poetry and ‘sing’ to my soul, learning how other poets such as Bukowski and Gibran see the world in which we live.
It is thought that humans have an innate drive to express ourselves, which may endeavour us to think creatively, solve problems and maximise potential. I can communicate in words, the insights others may have missed and thus narrate my shadows- the hidden depths of schizophrenia.
Social workers help people, using the same technique of expression with their clients. This includes trying to lift their confidence through risk taking, developing new insights, problem solving, conflict resolution and dealing with anxiety.
In the case of negative experiences in life, poetry may act as a way of normalizing those things, which hurt the most in our lives, and help us to understand why things happen. The use of poetry for those with paranoid schizophrenia, deals mainly with major issues such as bullying, self harm, racism, homophobia, family or domestic problems, poor living standards, homelessness and so on. I struggle with the English language as my mental state has deteriorated, but by writing poetry my brain has healed and allowed me to live again. I suffer with sz, but I was also in an accident aged 16 that ruined my life. I was overexposed to laboratory chemicals at work. I had a nervous breakdown, and ended up with clinical depression and brain damage.
My love for poetry has allowed me to harness the beauty of different perspectives about life, and learn new attitudes and emotions through the elegance of human language.
Schizophrenia is a thought disorder so schizophrenics struggle with their ‘strange sentences’ and ‘weird’ use of words, which I believe is beautiful. Poetry therapy to me, may be a wonderful tool, to battle with the extremely difficult process of recovery from mental illness.
Poetry may help with:
(Anger, Suicidal Thoughts
Poetry therapy works for me. Don’t be afraid to let the ink flow, and submit your poems for others to read. I encourage you to learn how to define your environment, and your existence, in order to break down the imaginary walls that hold you in, and to reach out to others, who may wish to share your journey.
“Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.” ~Carl Sandburg