The Night creeps forth from Sun’s false hope
A welcome repose, a sudden relief.
I reach for blue tasting freedom
Yet never content, I become prey to more.
Her love exceeds what I deserve
A guilty conscience, my heart trembles.
She cries seeing my grand despair,
I am ignorant of her worth, unrealising of the fragility of time.
Her breath brings down a soft whisper
Ignoring the truth, refusing to accept
The shame that echoes in my hollow chest.
‘Escape’ is inspired by my personal experiences with mental illness, sadness, despair and love.
As a young child, I have always been passionate about the art of writing and using it as a means of expression. I remember reading countless books, first for leisure before eventually choosing to pursue my interest by studying English Literature at the University level. There I learnt the essential lesson about the interconnectedness between words and emotions.
During my challenges with mental illness, I found it difficult to control the complex and ever-changing emotions that began to take over my life. My behaviour began to change – I lost control and acted out in ways that were seemingly devoid of all sense and logic.
As many people do, I sought help from medical professionals and was given prescriptions to cope with my suffering. Although I realised the significance of following advice given by my doctors, I ironically felt a twinge of guilt every time I had to use my medication. I became frustrated as I continued to ask myself why I could not overcome this problem myself and why I needed to take instruction from strangers?
In my attempt to once again become master of my emotions and seek answers for the questions I had, I found myself turning to my passion for writing and knowledge of poetry as a means of expressing and understanding how I felt. I soon saw that it became a form of therapy, giving me some assurance that I still possessed the ability to be creative and showed that I could find time to be “lost” in doing something I enjoyed.
My works became a direct translation of my subconscious.
Unsurprisingly, they, including this poem, were often dominated by the themes of sadness and despair. This was something I could understand as such emotions are a result for almost all forms of mental illness.
However, what surprised me was that I also found myself writing about love. I came to believe that love is an innate human behaviour. No matter how deeply it might be supressed, or if indeed seemingly forgotten, it will always find a way to manifest itself again in one’s life. Where it be love shown by others, of “things” in our lives, or of the self, it never truly leaves our side.
Understanding this, I also noticed how my stubbornness and ignorance separated me from being touched by love. I chose to refuse love and consequently the help and well-being it would have given me. As such, in a moment of catharsis, I realised that in my journey of recovery, I myself became the greatest obstacle.
I wrote this poem to show solidarity to victims of mental illness and to show others a glimpse of the hardships they encounter.
According to the Hong Kong Mental morbidity Survey 2010-2013, mental disorders amongst Chinese adults between the ages of 16 and 17 was as high as 13.3%. With this number continuing to grow, it is now more important than ever before to raise awareness of what has quickly become a global epidemic.
Indeed, there is much more to be done than simply putting words down on paper. I urge those who are suffering to seek help and understand that there is no shame from doing so. The first step in returning to your past self is by admitting that there is something wrong.
I also hope to have others understand that we all play a part in tackling mental illness. Check on your family, friends and loved ones as signs of mental suffering do not necessarily present themselves in the most obvious sense.
But most importantly of all, be kind and understanding of those around you. You never know the hardships that one is going through, and it takes nothing for one to be a good person.
EG has been writing poems from a young age. He later pursued his passion for literature by studying English Literature at a university where he broadened his knowledge and appreciation for poetry.