And as if by magic, the shadows transformed into light. The sparkle in my eyes was alive again. The golden sun warmed my icy skin. My pulse ignited with fire. My broken soul was mending, healing, I was awakened - EJ ©Emma-Jane Barlow, all words are my own.
Tired hands, stone feet. Frozen in the cage of time. The minutes escape me. The hours turn to dust. The days wrinkle my skin. Another year of wishing, hoping, searching, for a pause button, a moment, to stop, to breathe - EJ ©Emma-Jane Barlow, all words are my own.
Two thousand and one, summer roses, full bloom. Locked hands, freckled faces, young hearts in June.
Two thousand and four,
your name touched my lips,
reliving a memory, a passing eclipse.
Two thousand and nine,
I wished for a soul to love forever,
the universe smiled, thought of you,
the plan was always us - together.
Two thousand and ten,
the year my life forever changed.
Our love exploded like stardust,
sixteen, first kisses, exchanged.
Two thousand and twenty,
a decade with you by my side.
Our love blossomed like
summer roses, our hands,
©Emma-Jane Barlow, all words are my own.
When the world explodes
with hues of rainbows,
roars with fireworks of thunder.
I seek solitude.
When notifications multiply,
bad news seeps through the cracks of my screen,
when the vulnerability of the planet’s future is exposed.
I seek solitude.
When riots commence,
words become weapons,
humans lock horns to
prepare for combat.
I seek solitude.
When sombre shadows
conceal my inner glow,
threaten to tear down
the bridge of hope,
I have bled to build.
I seek solitude.
Solitude is my remedy,
my refuge to find silence,
to be still, in the midst of a hurricane.
©Emma-Jane Barlow, all words are my own.
For a long time I used this blog as a platform to write about my life. It was a place of freedom. It was a space where I could write down the uncensored and vulnerable musings of my experiences, to share a little piece of my world with others. Then, last year, I had to step away. I had to stop sharing my opinions, views and experiences on this blog because of the profession I chose. I had to distance myself from the online world, due to my words being misconstrued and misinterpreted by others. My voice was silenced. But now I feel ready to share again. Starting with the truth about what it is really like living with a mental illness. If you are offended by swearing or uncomfortable about the topic of mental illness, then you better look away and find another blog to follow because shit is about to get real.
If you break your leg, the immediate reaction you receive from others is sympathy, empathy and understanding. They want to know what happened, how long your recovery will be, is there anything that they can do and will your leg ever be the same again. You get a chorus of “Oh, you poor thing, it must really hurt.” People gather around to sign your cast, send you get well soon cards and hold on to you as you wobble your way through recovery.
If only mental illness was treated in the same way.
The shitty truth is. We still live in a world of stigma and denial, a world where people are forced to believe that the only way to deal with mental illness is to shut up, cheer up and take a pill that will numb how you feel. It is unbelievable that despite the fact that 1 in 4 human beings on the planet are suffering with a mental illness, it is still shunned as an unimportant inconvenience and the bottom of everyone’s priority list. Why is the idea of being mentally unwell so difficult for us to talk about?
Well, whether you like it or not, I’m going to talk about it.
I’m human. We are all human. We are supposed to feel, think, do and be. We are emotional creatures. We all cry, scream, smile and laugh. We all feel guilt, jealousy, happiness, anger, loneliness and sadness. We all want to love and be loved. Life is a mixture of darkness and light, good and bad times, achievement and failure, love and pain. We all struggle at some point in our lives. So why do we still fall silent when we hear the words ‘mental health?’ Why is there still a wall of secrecy that people feel they have to hide behind? Why do we still consider a connection to Wi-Fi more important than the connection to ourselves and others? Why, in this modern society, can we be surrounded by people but still feel alone?
Lets start at the beginning of my mental health journey… Anxiety came first. At the age of 18, I developed an anxiety disorder – GAD (general anxiety disorder). It was the beginning of a difficult journey for me, years of panic attacks, mental breakdowns but also many mental breakthroughs. Then, a few years later, my anxiety made a friend, called depression.
Living with two mental illnesses was like standing in the middle of a pair of scales, waiting to see which side tipped first.
I could feel hopeless, useless and unmotivated one day and stressed, manic and agitated the next. It can sometimes feel like I am fighting a losing battle but most days, I find the strength to win. It took me a long time to accept that I have two mental illnesses. No one wants to believe that they are sick. No one wants to be anything less than perfect in this fucked up society that we live in, I was no exception. Only when I actually accepted that what I had was an illness, something beyond my control, something that was universal and not only affecting me but millions of other people, that’s when I started to believe that no matter what, I would be okay.
I have found strength in knowing that I am not alone in my struggle. I surround myself with people I know won’t judge me, they hold me as I cry, listen as I pour my heart out and release the fears and worries that weigh me down. Those people know who they are and without them, I don’t think I would still be here.
Living with a mental illness is hard, living with two can sometimes be unbearable. There is no sugar-coating it. It’s fighting with yourself every single day. It’s trying to silence the negative voices in your head. It’s trying to get through the day without crying. It’s analysing every word of a conversation and worrying about it weeks later. It’s laying awake at night not sleeping or staying in bed and sleeping too much. It’s hoping and praying that things will get better. It’s fighting for a reason to stay alive.
Do you want to know what the hardest part of living with mental illness is? Keeping it a secret.
When people ask how you are and you respond with ‘I’m fine.’ You’re not fine. You just don’t want to burden those around you with your pain. You don’t want people to judge you. You don’t want to feel the stigma of others. It shouldn’t be this way… but unfortunately it is.
Living with a mental illness is like living in a cage that you can’t escape. It’s messy and complicated. It’s also fucking painful. One day I can be on top of the world, smiling, laughing, sharing positive pictures on my Facebook feed and the next, I could be crying hysterically, clutching my chest, forgetting how to breathe.
My disorder is not a decision. I am not choosing to feel this way.
Sometimes it takes all of my strength to get through the day. My biggest achievement on a bad day might be having a shower and getting dressed. Over the years, I have learned that running away, hiding from my own feelings, smiling and pretending I am okay to please others, only makes my illness worse. The most important lesson I have learned is:
You can’t stop the waves from coming, but you can learn to ride them.
Now, I ride the wave, I feel every emotion no matter how strong it is and wait for the storm pass. I speak up and no longer feel ashamed. I am choosing to blog about my struggles, I am choosing to write poetry about it, I am choosing to be a mental health ambassador to not only help others but help myself.
The only way we will see change is if we fight for it. It was time for me to speak up. Be one voice among the many that will play a small part in that change.
I’ve finally finished editing the first draft of 1:58 and if there is anything I have learnt from this experience of using a red pen on my own work it is this – I can be brutal. Many writers say that they don’t like to ‘kill their darlings’ but I found it quite easy to use my inner-editor to cross out sections that didn’t work, be brutally honest about my use of clichés and accept that there were parts of my novel that just didn’t work.
I had a dream a few nights ago about my novel, when I woke up I realised all of the mistakes I was making with my story and I quickly jotted them down. I’m going to make some major changes, from the name of the novel to the events that take place in the narrative. It’s still the same story in many ways and I am keeping the characters that I have grown to love but the novel didn’t excite me when I read it back. If it doesn’t excite me, then it’s definitely not going to excite a reader.
This is the first time I have completed a novel and edited my own work, so it’s an entirely new process for me. I am excited to get started on the second draft, it may take three or four drafts before this novel is ready but I’m willing to put the hard work in to really create the best story I possibly can. No one said it would be easy. Ernest Hemmingway once said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” A little dramatic but he definitely has the right idea.
When I’m not writing or teaching, I’m designing and making my own positive lifestyle magazine. Zest For Life has been going for nearly a year now and the fourth and final issue of 2016 has now been released!
There’s lots of great subjects discussed in this issue including what parents do that they don’t like to admit, what we can learn from children about happiness, why you shouldn’t put your dreams on hold and books to read this autumn. There is also some yummy recipes, positive news and winter horoscopes to read.
To download the magazine for free to all of your devices click on the front cover at the top of this article 🙂
In 2014, when I was studying Creative Writing at university, I decided to take part in something called NaNoWriMo. A writing task to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Despite my lack of belief in myself, I managed to do it. I spent a few weeks beforehand writing a plan, I had detailed questionnaires on all of my characters, I was ready to go. I celebrated when I reached the word count. I actually completed a novel! Yay me!
Then, I left the story alone. It sat on my USB for two years, yes you heard right, TWO YEARS! I guess I didn’t have much faith in my story, I thought it was rubbish and didn’t want to read it ever again. Until one day. I don’t know what pushed me to do it but I decided to read my story to myself. As I scrolled through the pages, I realised it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Although my inner editor had already started to rewrite the story in my head, I saw a few moments in the story that had true potential.
I printed off my manuscript and took out a red pen. I highlighted sentences that worked, crossed out sections that didn’t and scanned the manuscript for inconsistencies and spelling mistakes. I’m still in the process of editing the novel but once I’m done, I’m going to start my second draft of 1:58. I’m breathing new life into an old story and I couldn’t be happier about it 🙂
The first time I was nominated for the Liebster Award was June last year by Dare To Dream, Live To Write. She said some really nice things about my blog and since then my blog has taken on a different identity, attracted more readers and inspired many people so thank you to KatWilson04 for nominating me for the Libester Award 2015.
Here are KatWilson04‘s questions and my answers:
- What cartoon character would you be and why? I would say I’m Tinkerbell from Peter Pan. I’ve been called Tinkerbell quite a few times by different friends growing up. I’m small, fiesty and can be ill-tempered. Tinkerbell has two sides to her personality, she can be jealous and firey but also kind and loving. Minus the blonde hair, I’ve been told by a lot of people that I remind them of Tinkerbell.
- One item of clothing you couldn’t live without? Oooh, that’s a hard one. Probably my favourite pair of jeans that I wear most of the time. Although I really love my fashion scarves. I have quite a collection now and wear them with different outfits, my favourite is a pink butterfly one that I have just bought. It’s not the piece of clothing I couldn’t live without per say, but it is my favourite thing to wear right now.
- What made you start blogging? We were told in our first year at university on my Creative Writing course that we had to create one for class, so that we could review the books that we were reading but since then AnotherBeautifulRhyme has become so much more than that. It’s a place of expression, inspiration and motivation. I want to inspire people with words, talk about my journey as a writer and talk about my love for yoga and my journey to happiness. I’m really proud of how my blog has turned into something positive and I love seeing how many people like my posts, it makes my day.
- What’s the best question you’ve ever been asked and why and what was your response? The best question I’ve ever been asked is if you could live in another era, which one would it be? I love questions like that because I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in the 50’s, I’m fascinated by that era and although being a woman in that time period was extremely hard, I really love the idea of living in that time, I love the style of music, the fashion and the simplicity of life. I sometimes think I was born at the wrong time.
- If you could be part of a band/music group, who would you choose and why? I would be Taylor Swift’s back up singer definitely. I’ve always been a huge fan of hers, I found a video of her playing on YouTube before she was even famous and before she even released her first CD. I’ve been a fan ever since and I feel a connection with her even though we have never met. If she lived next door to me and she wasn’t a famous singer, we would probably be best friends because we are very similar. I would be her back up singer because I feel like I have always been there for her as a fan, so it would be cool to be on stage with her every night and watch her shine.
- What’s your favourite recipe, and where did you get it from? I’m not really a cook and it isn’t my recipe but my mother in law makes the best Spaghetti Bolognese. She’s shown me how to make it a few times and I just love it!
- If you could move to live in another place or country, where would it be and why? That’s a hard question! I’m one of those people. I’m in love with countries I have never visited and in love with people I have never met. I can’t wait to travel the world, explore new cultures, meet new people and experience new things. I like the idea of Italy, Rome to be exact. There is a romantic notion associated with it and I believe that it would be a great place to live and it would be a great place for a writer to be inspired on a daily basis.
- What one thing would you change about the world permanently and why? I would change the way we treat each other, the way the world is divided. Without money, religion, race or class, the world would be a completely different place, a nicer place. I would get rid of these divisions somehow. I have never understood the way the world works and I often dream of a better way things could be.
- Favourite animal? I love animals, I have a Guinea Pig called Theo and I adore him, I love dogs, orangutans, elephants, tigers, bears and meerkats. I prefer animals to humans sometimes.
- Favourite perfume/fragrance? I love Taylor by Taylor Swift, it smells sweet yet sophisticated at the same time, I love it!
- If you could give one tip or one bit of advice to a person, what would it be? I give a lot of advice to other people but rarely follow it myself and I really should. My one bit of advice would simply be this, be happy. Find a way to be happy with your life. We all have problems, challenges to face and things we are waiting for but if you learn to be content with the way your life is right now you will be much happier. Don’t forget to appreciate and love the people around you and most importantly, love yourself.Thank you for the questions KatWilson04!
Here are eleven random facts about me.1. My eyes change colour, sometimes they are green and sometimes they are blue and sometimes they are both green and blue (magic!).
2. I prefer the inbetween seasons, Spring and Autumn. Winter is too cold and Summer is too hot. I love Spring because of the pink blossom on the trees and I love daffodils. Autumn is a beautiful season because of the orange and red leaves falling to the ground.
3. I started writing poetry at the age of five, yes really, I found one of my old poems and I was five, nearly six when I wrote it. I’ve always loved poetry and always been obsessed with rhyme, hence my blog title.
4. I love pugs! I’ve always wanted a dog growing up and I really want a pug and hopefully, when me and my boyfriend get our own house in the future, we can have a pug or maybe even two!
5. I am the world’s biggest procrastinator. I want to write, I let ideas float around in my mind for weeks before I actually write them down. I start the day with hopes of writing my novel ideas down and writing poetry but I always end up watching Pretty Little Liars or searching for new music on YouTube.
6. I always want to learn something new, I taught myself how to play the guitar and keyboard and I have recently reached level one in British Sign Language and I really love it. I’m not sure what the next thing will be, maybe I will learn Spanish or learn how to draw.
7. My favourite colour is Green.
8. I love old music, anything from the sixties, seventies, eighties or nineties. I prefer it to modern music.
9. I wear glasses, I can’t see anything clearly without them.
10. I started doing yoga over a year ago and it has changed my life. I practice Hatha Yoga and also love to meditate.
11. I play acoustic guitar, keyboard and sing.
Here are your questions:
1. What’s your favourite season of the year and why?
2. Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
3. What’s the meaning behind your blog name?
4. What’s your favourite thing about life?
5. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?
6. Which three novels would you recommend to your friends?
7. What is your biggest dream?
8. What is your biggest fear?
9. What’s your favourite thing about yourself?
10. If you could be any person for one day, who would you be and why?
11. Why do you love to blog?
Six Simple Rules Of The Liebster Award