Are we there yet?

I created various pictures and poems between the mid 1980s and 2010(ish) as part of my journey of healing and recovery from depression. The story behind the pictures will hopefully be published in a book. The draft of it has been sent off to a publishers and I await their response. It has taken a long time to be ready to take this step.

I asked a ‘friend’ on Facebook to look at both the poems and pictures plus the back story to see what she thought from a professional point of view. She is one of those friends who I have never met in person, so I can be sure that she would not write anything unduly flattering. I was then brave enough to ask if she would write a testimonial to go on my CV when submitting it to publishers. I’ve taken her name out to protect her privacy – but this is what she wrote:

I have been a Consultant Psychotherapist for many years. I was, until last year, a Senior Psychotherapist at a Mental Health Hospital and now work in full-time private practice in Central London. Before then I have had a thriving private practice in New York, and so I think it is fair to say that over the decades I have become somewhat familiar with the journeys people make towards emotional wellness from very dark, difficult, life-threatening places. 

When Elizabeth asked me to read “Are we there yet?” I initially agreed out of a sense of duty, because she is a remarkable person, and I wanted to encourage her. But as I entered her world of poetry and pictures I became utterly absorbed, and my heart, hardened by the stories of thousands of patients, was engaged and deeply moved. Here is a woman who has the courage and the sheer talent to make explicit what most people can only begin to utter or imagine.  I believe this work must be taken seriously, and published. It is at once a unique, personal insight into depression and the struggle for recovery, and at the same time it has universality: it speaks to everyone who has experienced such a struggle, and to those of us who seek to help.

Elizabeth combines cartography with art, and the contours she charts are at once recognisable and beautiful.  I cannot recommend it too highly: were it to be made publicly available I feel sure it would find a place not only on the curricula of psychotherapy training institutions, but would be recommended to patients and carers as exceptional bibliotherapy.

Her words are so affirming of this project of mine. And it has actually encouraged me to approach the more main line and well known publishers.

The poems and see the pictures are available as a pdf –

The poem below appears in the introduction.

I am recovering – but am I getting better?

I am recovering
            but am I getting better?
                        really well and totally free
or is it respite till the next time?
Will my life always be
            overshadowed by depression?
That illness that stalks the mind
            waiting to bring me down
            down into the pit of despair
            that place where
                        I don’t want to be
                        but part of me
                        conspires to
                                    conjure up those negative thoughts.
Once more I wish I were dead
that recurring theme going through my head
weaving itself in and out
            entering unbidden into conscious thought.
I wish it would go –
            Be gone!
                        Away with you!
I want to be well
            positive
                        glad to be alive.
But I’m not.
            I’m stuck in a rut
                        going down that familiar track
                                    of comparing myself to others
                                                and always coming out worse.
If only……….
            if only………..

“Are we there yet?  I wish we were” I asked granddad on the way to Brighton beach
with its stones that hurt the feet.
“You’ll wish your life away” he replied.
                                    How right he was.

I have now completed the pdf of poems, prayers and pictures. It can be downloaded here: