What if I’m not lost? What if I have been carrying around the truth beneath my skin? What if in the past, when I looked up into the blackened night, searching for a beacon, pleading for guidance my higher power waited? Lying dormant in my heart, she patiently, silently, lovingly waited for the right time to awaken, to be known to me. I asked too soon for a revelation, I know this now. I had lessons to learn, mistakes to make, demons to burn, a journey to take. My heart needed to shatter and heal, my eyes needed to see the world without rose-coloured glasses, without a whimsical shield to blind me. My legs needed to be dragged along different paths, to lead me to this place. Now, my higher power is here, she is alive and listening. She whispers in the night and day, reveals her wisdom to me. She lights my soul with burning embers. Like sunbeams, hope shines through my eyes again. Gratitude runs through my veins. I am who I was meant to be. She had a plan all along. My higher power knew I would crumble, she knew I would fall, but she also knew that I would rise again. – EJ
A world divided, living in a digital matrix, under a veil, day after day. Slaves to our own comfortable routines. Easy, want it, need it, click of a button. Protecting our own hearts, the lives we have built. Millions of human lives, a kaleidoscope of divergence. An array of stories being told through one lense of time. Then, change. A bane is set free. Spreading through the world, it eliminates, menacingly praying on the weak, tearing human lives apart. But we are courageous, we have kindness in our souls, hope burning through our spirits like wildfire. We are human, we can get through this. Stay strong, believe in togetherness, believe in community, the world will continue to shine, even after its darkest days – EJ
What is a poet? Woken by a whispering muse from dusk until dawn a sculpter of words, an artist who paints words that can set a soul on fire. What is a poet? The yearning to feel, to decipher the meaning of the world. A poet is a vessel of love, a carrier of pain. A poet is a creative spirit craving definition. I am a poet, a label I am proud to unveil, a word that elucidates – me. – EJ
Last year I entered a Mental Health Poetry competition with Make Our Rights Reality (MORR), my poem Did You Know made it in the top 25 and the prize was for my poem to be published in an anthology. The digital anthology has been released, the physical anthology will be out after the lockdown in the UK is lifted.
Did You Know is a poem I wrote about my darkest time a few years ago, when I was suffering with depression. It is a letter I wrote to let those around me know how deep in depression I was. Poetry for me has always helped me process my emotions. Many of these poems stay in a notebook or on my computer, as I once found them too personal to publish. But I saw this competition as an opportunity to make my voice heard amongst those who have suffered with mental health issues.
I am really pleased with this poem. I can look back on the words I wrote and be grateful that I no longer feel that way. But knowing that this anthology will be read by other young people who may be suffering with their mental health and my poem may make them feel less alone, makes me proud.
Did you know? by Emma-Jane Barlow
Did you know that in my darkest moments, I imagined a world without my heart beating and I smiled? Every day, I wished for a way out, searching for salvation, a path that would lead me towards the light.
Did you know that before I shared the positive picture that you liked, I was drowning in desolation on the bathroom floor? On the edge, pierced with panic in my chest, the walls crumbling around me. Trapped, desperately watching my dense tears descend to the ground. Alone, clock ticking, waiting for the storm to pass.
Did you know the immeasurable time I spent fighting with my own mind? A damaged wasteland, a toxic atmosphere, somewhere you would never want to be. The countless moments I spent revisiting old conversations. Analysing every-spoken-word, every-emotion-felt. Exhausted by the endless cycle of never-feeling-good-enough.
Did you know the infinite seconds, minutes, hours that I struggled to find silence? Wanting just a fleeting moment of peace amidst the chaos of my unruly thoughts. Every day, I dragged my legs through the mud until the sun set in the sky. Sleeping, my only sanctuary, my only safe space away from the bleak. In my dreams, I was free from the demons that held me hostage.
Did you know that despite the glimmer you saw in my eyes, inside my soul was breaking? The mask I wore was due to the fear of being misunderstood by a disapproving world. When it slipped, the eyes would stare, the voices would whisper, the fear returned. No one recognised the hopelessness in my heart, the desire I felt to eliminate the darkness that was growing inside me, once and for all.
Did you know that although I am walking on solid ground today, I am waiting for it to dissolve, without warning, beneath my feet once more? I see the light, I feel the light, I am the light. I can finally breathe without pain. Yet I know that one day, when I’m not watching, my demons will return.