“The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
~ William Stafford ~”
This poem by poet and pacifist William Stafford bears great meaning for those of us who fight the long war with stigma and with lack of mental health services. In a society where MLA’s are paid not to work while the health service is on its’ knees, it takes courage and tenacity to face set back after set back and keep going. Hospital beds are scarce, waiting lists are long and people are in crisis due to mounting debts, lack of representation and considerable reduction in the vital community activities which can safeguard wellbeing. Nevertheless we must persist because like the poem says, if you are holding the thread it is impossible to let it go.
It is impossible to stop caring about mental health if you have faced the monsters of stigma that so often stop us from asking for help. It is also impossible to ignore the healing impact of creativity once you have experienced it. Whether you are posting blogs, writing music, carving, sculpting, painting or making theatre; whatever it is you choose to do, it makes you more resilient. That is why it is vital to support creativity in communities and to highlight the health benefits which can be derived from the arts. It has been a hard slog in NI in recent years, many of us are tired and we are down. But we know we will always be holding the thread, so in our own way and our own time, we have to keep going. That’s just the way it is.