Occasionally in life an activity not of our choosing is found to be enjoyable. This, of course, is part of the learning undertaken in school. If we chose to play all day, we would not learn to read and write, skills which enable us to disappear into another world either of our own or another author’s making.

Reading and Writing are a form of meditation but were sadly not encouraged in my mental health wards. To be read to is a wonderful gift and this could be done easily by a staff member, visitor or volunteer. To brainstorm ideas about depression and recovery and write a four line verse is creative and empowering.

I have never found the art activities on hospital wards helpful as I am not a person who paints or models with clay. I do decorate my own home and find that a calming and satisfying activity but to represent my feelings on a piece of paper is just not my way. My way is with words. Sadly the thinking seems to be that art is healing for the mind, so volunteers and even paid art tutors come to mental health units to conduct sessions. I can see how it can help some but, for me, I need the written word.

I have sometimes tinkered with the idea of volunteering to do some creative writing in our local hospital, particularly poetry which is a shorter, more easily composed form and with which I have had success. But always at the back of my mind is the thought that perhaps I do not want to return to the place that could remind me of my dark days one spring only two years ago.
Perhaps this year, which is a special year for me as I reach a birthday with a 0 on the end, I can add this activity to my list of firsts.

If I could open up someone’s mind to free or rhyming verse and start them on the road to reading and scribbling ideas, it will have been worth it.


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