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POEM: The Prison

My mind is like a prison, but there’s no prison guards or appropriate safety measures. There’s a riot taking place. The alarms are going off and at the moment it feels like no-one will ever claw back control. I will never claw back control. The unruly penitentiary of my twisted thoughts has been destroyed. Burnt to the ground and the inmates are on the loose. Anxiety has found its voice, its strength and its confidence. Depression is looking on, waiting for the foundation to become too loose to hold up the walls. Too shoddy to hold it all. Panic attacks are creating the cracks, and as the roof begins to fall, the thoughts start to escape. Slowly. Surely. All around, it’s a battleground.

There’s a civil war going on inside my mind. My mental immune system is on the wane and right now, it could go either way. On one side, I’m ruled by rational thinking. A crack team based around the idea that some things are good, and some things are bad, but neither end of the spectrum gets too much of a voice. A democratic society where every part of the mind gets a say. There are rules, but they’re sensible and allow the peace to flow like a calm and gentle river, reflecting the sunshine. A healthy environment to grow. To evolve.

Yet, the other side is critical. It’s cynical and it’s disturbed. A totalitarian state, controlled by depression. Aided by anger and pain, it will not halt, will not refrain. This regime forces the mind to race, one way then another. Backwards and forwards, like a rocking horse. Whereas rational thinking is horses for courses, depression is exacerbation in relation to any given situation. A day can feel like a year, a minute is a month. An argument can feel like world war 3, like a never ending battle for territory. Then for forgiveness. All the while you’re falling deeper and deeper into a rabbit hole. But forget Disney and forget Alice, this is like throwing stones into a glass palace. You will shatter when you’re shattered, jump before you’re pushed and avoid all levels of confrontation. The riverbank becomes overgrown and the river itself has overflown. A typhoon of mental proportions. A hurricane in once steady waters.

In the early days the warzone rages. Rational thinking tells me everything is under control at breakfast, but by lunch ground has been made up by my depression. It’s on the offensive. Taking confidence and self-worth by tea, it can make anything I think become offensive. It’s a good tactic. Without a bright outlook, you feel like you can’t look out for long. There’s no way to explain the way it feels, to have what you’re all about taken from beneath your nose and from under your heels. The fundamental parts of your existence torn up, torn apart. Piece by piece and limb-from-limb. You’re feeling separated from her-from-her, from him-from-him. You can’t risk speaking in a crowd, what if they laugh? What if they mock? There’s a chance they’ll just ignore, which right now doesn’t seem to be the worst outcome in the world. So after taking over your days, anxiety has overcome your nights. For all it’s worth and for all it tried, reasoning has taken flight.

“See you later, Luke. It was nice knowing you. It’s been good for a while, but the problem with the past means the present can be in denial. But for all it’s worth and for all it might mean, one day we might return to feed the grass again and make it green.”

Sanity has left, leaving me feeling as though I’m crazy. I feel like I’ve got more than 99 problems so right now I wish I was JayZ. Last week was poor and last time I was happy, well that’s hazy. Where do I go from here? What do I do right now? Why are there no instructions for this stuff or silver lining to this black cloud? I’m at the bottom of the barrel, nowhere near the cream of the crop. From the bottom of this well of negativity I feel so far from the top. Yet, one thing can lead to another. A “hello” from a long-lost friend or a text message from your mother, your brother. Next thing is, you discover that the sun is still about even if the sun doesn’t want to come out. One conversation can soften the blow. One drink or a phone call from a loved one can brighten the glow. And from there, recovery.

The war never ends but the walls can be built up. Instead of using wood, you learn how to carve stone better than you ever could. With experience the barriers stop to break. You learn to take the rough with the smooth. The bad with the good. Things are beginning to rebuild, because you learn to carve stone better than you ever could.

And then one day, there will be a ceasefire in your mind. The river begins to tame. I look across to the prison block and all is contained.

My mind is a prison. Now with prison guards and appropriate safety measures. My mind is a prison, but I will be on the lookout forever and ever.