By Denny Reader
Key Themes: poetry, spirituality, recovery, empowerment
This book of poetry contains a variety of themes including, Recovery, Spirituality, Environmentalism, politics and general emotional expressions. Denny writes in a very open, honest and poignant way, describing various views and expressing them in general common tongue. He intends to inspire and open the mind of the reader and to share his experiences through the use of poetry.
About the Author
The Authors name is Denny Reader, he was born in the West Midlands in 1982.
He experienced in his late teens, what he describes as Spiritual experiences, which led him to a path of Inner Discovery and Spiritual exploration. He experimented with street drugs to reach Higher States of Consciousness, but whilst practicing a lot of fasting and meditation during these times and drawing closer to his 19th year, he began experiencing ‘voices’ in his head.
This Psychosis increased and Denny experienced a ‘massive’ psychotic breakdown, going through intense periods of psychotic depression and general Schizophrenia. He was sectioned in 2001 for four months and was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia after his second stay in the local psychiatric asylum which happened to be exactly a year later in 2002. Denny continued to struggle with his condition with another stay in 2004, and then was given a dual diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Denny has written poetry since a child, yet has expressed himself through it mostly within the last ten years of his life, during being in Recovery. With the encouragement of local writers, he has focused much on writing poetry to express him self and aid recovery. This book is a collection of his poems throughout the last ten years of his life.
Throughout the last twelve years I have used poetry to express what I cannot normally express. To me it is a valuable tool to understand myself and to communicate what I feel in my heart. Since my original breakdown and mental health issues began ten years ago, I have especially used poetry to express my feelings, views, philosophies and politics. To me poetry has been a vital medium of expression throughout my recovery, and continues to inspire me to vent how this world affects me, in a way I hope others can relate to and be inspired by.
Concerning my mental health issues, I suppose the problems started for me when I started high school. My mother and father broke up and the whole family went through some hard times. I was having a lot of difficulties at school with being picked on and with just fitting in generally. All this hit me hard and my confidence hit zero.
I got into a crowd that started to do street drugs from a young age and began to get into petty crime. As I grew I became more sensible but my use of cannabis increased. I then began fasting initially as it made me lose fat, but found that it had many spiritual benefits for me. I became addicted to feeling empty, elated and free from the bondage of hunger and material perspectives. I found it very liberating, but as with the rest of the time when I did eat, I wasn’t really aware of nutrition and healthy eating as a whole.
As I was drawing closer to my 18th birthday, I began to hear voices in my head, though at the time I perceived them as disembodied entities speaking to me. From that things got much worse. I moved into the woods around February 2000 to get away from the capitalistic culture that I saw as destroying the planet, and I could not take being around concrete and people much. I love nature so saw this as the best option for me.
My psychosis grew more powerful and I believed demons and evil forces were on my every move, I couldn’t escape them. I got very ill staying in the woods, as I wasn’t looking after myself. During this time I tried to set up a group to help the local community, though it never really got going as I became ever increasingly unwell. I walked the streets day and night doing ‘crazy’ things in a totally different world to everybody else.
I then moved temporarily into a young homeless housing project, then later to my mother’s, and as I settled I began to hit a deep psychotic depression. This continued until I got sectioned in 2001 and was admitted to the local psychiatric hospital. It initially was very difficult for me to have my freedom taken away, but I got used to it and spent four months in there. A real turn around for me was being referred to the Early Intervention Team and all the patience and love my family, especially my mother, gave to me. Some of my friends were also very supportive. I found that the service was very helpful and got on well with my social worker. I began to take steps along the road to recovery.
I then started to volunteer and this increased my confidence and social ability. The medication worked for me and I made some great friends within the mental health system. Years went by with me being involved within the community and now my mental health is at a good level. My friends and I all support each other and I am trying to practice a healthy diet and have regular exercise. This contributes to my overall well-being.
I would say that now I am more stable than I have been for years and have a really positive outlook on life. Positive thinking is essential and a healthy lifestyle also essential. I thought that ‘mental illness’ could never happen to me and that ‘crazy’ people were to always be avoided, but some of the people who have these problems are the most caring, kind and friendly people I have ever met. I had stigma towards the ‘mentally ill’, but now realise that whatever box that we put people in, we are ALL people at the end of the day, and inside whatever box that you put someone into, there is an individual and something indefinable within each and every one of us.
One of the strongest stigmas that I feel now is one of not being employed. The stress of a job would make me unwell again so I stick to contributing to the world through voluntary work. Stigma is a massive obstacle quite often by people who think of me as the ‘one with problems’, or the ‘mental one’; but really my condition is a way of life and I am proud of who I am and not ashamed of my history. It gives me individuality, has opened my mind and life to many new things, and overall helped readdress the imbalances in my life. I feel that I am a more whole person now that I am in recovery and in fact much wiser than what I ever have been.
I did many embarrassing things when I was unwell, but have forgiven myself for everything I did then. I hurt many people whilst in psychosis, but realise that there is no blame to give, to myself or anyone else. I have come to terms with my history and who I am. I think that this is essential on the road back to a healthier more harmonious self. I went through years of blaming myself for what I went through; so much shame, and so much lack of confidence. I went through phases of blaming different people for my problems. But now I realise that no blame is needed. I just need to get on in my life and live it as well as I can.
I really do hope that this poetry has been of benefit to you all, hopefully to create insight and more understanding. I have found writing it very positive for me and hope that I have inspired you to write your own.
I wish you all the best, and may we all express ourselves in the way we truly need to.