Beyond The Bars


SKU e-book Category

146 in stock


By Issir Adan

ISBN: 978-1-84747-145-1
Published: 2007
Pages: 26
Key Themes: poetry, script, mental health services, ethnic minorities, post-traumatic stress


In this short book Issir describes her experiences of mental illness and of experiencing mental health services through two large poems and the script of a short play. Issir describes what it is like to live behind bars – both physically in a mental health unit and metaphorically when suffering from crippling mental illness. This is a theme which should resonate with anybody who has been through the mental health system. This is an interesting and revealing book.

About the Author

I came to England at a young age due to catastrophic events in my country. The full impact of this did not become evident until much later. I felt under pressure not only to survive but also to achieve, so as to bring about change in my family’s circumstances.

At a crucial time in my university studies I suddenly had a complete breakdown; mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I still have to overcome stigma, disappointment and fear of an uncertain future.
With the help of my family I found the courage to try to rebuild my shattered life.

Writing about my dark and painful experience has been both cathartic and fulfilling. I hope others whose life has been blighted by mental illness will also find their voice.

Book Extract

Life Sentence

I stumble down the street,
Eyes downcast with heavy feet,
My body large and shapeless,
My skin dull, my eyes red,
Dazed and confused.

My hands shake, fear and anxiety,
Fanned by paranoid fantasies,
Death is everywhere,
Locked in living hell,
My only peace is sleep.

I crawl out of bed, and glance out the window,
The sky is dark, the air cold,
Maybe today will be my last,
Good-bye to all who hurt me,
Will they feel guilty, suffer a bit?

When people from the past see me,
They can’t conceal their shock,
Why should I be ashamed?
The doctor says I am doing well,
Yet I am ashamed.

I walk past the hospital sometimes,
A shiver goes down my spine,
Peering out of the dirty windows, dreaming of escape,
The countless wretches that died in there,
Their ghosts colonizing every corridor.

These memories are like thorns,
I still see their faces mocking me,
I despise them yet I seek their approval,
I pray one day they will not matter,
Did they want to destroy me?

They chipped away at me,
Until I stopped speaking,
For fear of ridicule,
Their smug faces still haunt my dreams,
They did more than they will ever know

As my paranoia escalated,
I felt their eyes piercing into me everywhere I went,
So locked myself away,
But they never saw me cry,
I never let them see what they did.

I put on a brave face and soldiered on,
I hope one day I will be strong again,
I am surrounded by people yet alone,
Watching my life unfold,
Through someone else’s eyes.



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