Storying Sheffield

‘Psychosis’. A poem

This poem has been shared by a local writer who wishes to be known simply as “a Sheffield psychiatric patient”.

Untethered from my past and cast adrift
I reach for the profound and lose footing on the earth
Unable to find the New World nor the route back home
The demon of mental illness seizes its prey.
Black clouds pass in front of the sun
The tide sweeps in, washing away foundations
Like a drug that alters thought and perception
I lose control of my rational self.
The moral compass spins wildly
False destiny shines like a golden path
The old deceiver firmly takes my hand
The journey into madness has begun.
A Bacchanalian fantasy
Dionysus’ orgy of the senses
Noble intentions mask the unfurling sin
The siren’s call belies the ugly truth.
Deeply held values are lost from sight
As I move from Martin Luther King to Malcom X
From “turn the other cheek” to “by any means necessary”
From Buddha Law to the law of the jungle.
Relationship becomes obsession
“I will be King and you will be Queen”
Forgive the violence and the anguish and the inquisition
– it’s how it’s meant to be.
Energy in my palms
Speed and dexterity of thought
“So right it can’t be wrong”
Then why are my parents in tears?
Internal moves to the external
If the world is not right we will smash it and start again
The demons are moving fast now
Society catches up.
Medium secure psychiatric unit
The bars are all in your mind, man
The wild animal is caged but not tamed
The cries of complaint nourish the delusion’s growth
Forced injections and the seclusion unit
Plastic mattresses and sliced white bread
A clinical environment and an unclinical patient
“James, we are here to help.”
They are here to help.
Monsters recede, revealing humans after all
From rock bottom a ray of light appears
Warm sun beams reach the back of the cave.
Now the real work begins
The origin of each thought must be ascertained
Reality and delusion, good and bad
Once the train leaves the station, it travels too fast to stop.
The psychosis lives in a dark corner, hidden from view
We shine the light from every direction, exposing its writhing body
Honesty and openness form the vessel
Trust and understanding, the calm ocean breeze.
This sea-change of insight is profound and moving
The whole landscape shifts
The ecosystem that supports unhealthy thoughts is gradually dismantled
Golden spirit is growing strong.
Black clouds pass, yet still I can see the sun
The tide sweeps in, yet foundations remain strong
The drug-like rush courses through the body, yet the rational mind transcends
Destiny returns, in true form.