The Making of Me: A Poem to my Family Tree.

Peachey Letters cover Cropped

I’ve tartan running through my veins, along with Cambridge mud.
There’s peat bog in my DNA, and lots of English wood.
My gypsy blood, will, a wanderer always make me.
The ghosts of farmers, leaders and orators have spake me.
With so many Vikings in the family tree and Normans running wild.
A crazy mixture makes up me – the making of the child.

In my life line lies politicians, plasterers and trainers.
Tram drivers, cleaners, salesmen and entertainers.
My lineage has worked the land and riden on the horse.
We’ve driven trams in Glasgow and warmed the world with gas.
Weaving away in dark factories, we’ve skated, spoke and ran.
We all kept on daring and dreaming , through this allotted span.

We laughed, we cried, we broke, we healed and still we carried on.
We worked, we schemed, we loved and walked until we were all gone.
All gone but one, but then I remember – two; and then, that all my cousins count.
As me, we are all part of the mysterious family tree, in doing what we want.
So my words are my descendants and I birthed them all with joy.
Sometimes with tears and fears too, but who cares – whether girl or boy?

A life lived loud in solitude, full of feeling much, and friends.
My giving is my gratitude and may that never end.
I take, I make, I give, and I receive.
I play and rest and work, so long and lazy – all for my reprieve.

A legacy of love is mine, my influences and effects.
And I cannot know who I have reached, from this line or life, to the next…

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Post Script: A collection of my ‘Love Letters to Life’ in poetry and prose, have been gathered together in to a book – ‘Peachey Letters’ – exploring all the facets of life and love, in its’ gore and glory. The book has been featured in Psychologies Magazine and The Lady, as well other local and national press.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including Hive (paperback and Ebook) and Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)… Or else ask your local bookshop to stock it and order it in…

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Love Letter to a Bug Eyed Monster

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The calendar states a significant date, a date that asks me to respond to it, for so many reasons… It has been designated The Time to Change World Mental Health Day 2015… And that prompts me to finish my latest ‘Love Letter to Life’, a post I started several weeks ago, but found it hard to finish for many reasons.  Now it is time to reconcile and to conclude…

Dearest Me

Do you know what – there have times when I have literally been crazy..? Crazy with anger, with grief, with self-pity, with sorrow and the injustice of life… And since life is a balance, I have also been sweetly sane too, yes, I have been happy, relaxed, connected.  So it is that I have also walked the survival line – just getting on with the business of living, and getting myself from A to B – paying the bills and filling my time.  Indeed there are many versions of my life, and so it follows that there are many versions of me…

This time I am writing to an ugly, gargoyle version of myself. Today, physically anyway, I am a bug eyed monster with grotesquely swollen eyes.  It’s probably a simple allergic reaction, but I don’t like what I am seeing in the mirror and how I am feeling right now…  So if it is true that we manifest symptoms from deep rooted emotional causes; then in every way I can conceive, I don’t like what I am seeing right now – in the mirror, in life and in practice.  And here is a sick selfie of me – taken on that swollen day…

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I managed to manifest these symptoms on Saturday, so it took too long to connect with medical support.  The serious fact to me, that my eyes were nearly swollen shut, was of no concern to the ‘professionals’ (they said, without seeing me, from a far distant desk, on a phone somewhere, in a place unknown), just take an anti-allergic tablet and wait…  Waiting is an anathema to me, being of little patience and wanting to be seen and to be ‘fixed’, right now, thank you very much.

But wait I do, and eventually, after days, my face shrinks back to normality in physicality.  But the concerns and symptoms of fate and psyche still remain, so it is time to now to reckon up…

If I have been crazy, then I have acted crazy – I have ranted and cried and shouted and screamed and smashed at various times…  Sometimes to rage and sometimes to vent.  Sometimes for minutes and sometimes for months…

I can easily give what I go through diagnoses, and wear them as labels, (figuratively) on my lapel… ‘I’m depressed’ and ‘I’m menopausal’ have been 2 favourite badges.  And I’ve taken tablets for both lord knows.  I’ve medicated in other ways too, by swallowing wine, chomping chocolate and filling my belly to hurting with calorific comfort food to take away the pain, or even to help me forget about it momentarily.

But if I don’t like what I see, it’s not just about me – I see this particular pain all around me, with family and friends; people that I love going through this too – in tiny and extreme ways; medicated, going through therapy, going through life with other remedies, either keeping it screamingly within, or reaching beyond their silent situation, becoming loud in behaviour and crying out to be seen and for support.

Such pain has surrounded me for ever, lord knows – my mother was prone to what was known as ‘nervous break downs’, so I witnessed this from childhood – she was labelled with depression, paranoia, psychosis and so many other badges too.  Then one day, my father had his own ‘nervous breakdown’ and it killed him.  He didn’t survive his own deep dive into craziness, and became both physically, mentally and as it turned out – terminally ill.

I’ve seen the maladies in other family members and in dear friends.  So many people so close to me.  I’ve spent so many hours worrying, talking, hugging, and visiting hospital wards.  I do what I can, when I can, since supporting others, somehow makes me stronger and means that in the cycle of life, I am better in supporting myself.

Still, my mind can wander and accuse me of not doing enough, and bringing guilt into the equation.  Is listening to and loving people for a while, sitting with them and fighting for them – with soft velvet gloves on, really enough?  I can only let them judge that.  But here for me, is what works – now my conscious coach-ly brain kicks in – I support where I can, with the resources and gifts that I have – including coaching and writing.  I choose to define myself by supporting others and symbiotically, this way this works for me too.

And if I have a failing, it’s that I don’t support myself enough.  I know that I must take the best care of myself, so that I can do the same for others.  It makes sense, but it is actually a tough thing to do.  Ironically there is a feeling that this is selfish, when if you really think about it, taking good care of yourself is exactly the opposite to selfish.

So here is what I do…  I take care of my health – I eat well and, yet still I treat myself with chocolate, drink and occasional excess.  I exercise – mildly, doing only what I love to stretch myself, and still I could do more.  I create a circle of love, with family, friends and trusted supporters, who I interact with and reach out to.  I share constantly and I support constantly, conscious of creating a balance.  It is an imperfect balance, but then I am not perfect.  I am, as it happens the most glorious work in progress…

And I found the things that work for me.  There is no one size fits all solution here.  We have to reach out and explore and test what is out there, beyond us, to help us – uniquely.  One of the major methods for me is to write…  I have decided to share my stuff with my words, to keep learning and reflecting on my life’s lessons.  And this feels like the most selfish, self-indulgent method of all.  But no excuses, this is what I do and by doing it, I do good, for me and then the person, or people or world that I touch as a result – that I have some impact on.  If that is one (me) or many (who knows who), then that’s my big ‘why’ for doing it.

So I’ve looked craziness in the face – in my face and the face of people I love.  I’ve shared some of my crazy shit, and so often with the fear that I will be judged – silently, selfishly and stupidly.

For so many, such sharing, and such admittance of what is wrong with their world is a sad stigma.  It is a shame in just about every way you can imagine.  But it is no coincidence that so often therapy involves sharing – taking that brave step of speaking out, not keeping your pain and symptoms locked within.  For believe me, I have seen these symptoms explode, so many times, within me and around me – when the brain and / or the body simply cannot cope with the pressure any more.

Many are medicated on their route to health and I have conflicting feelings about this.  It is a path I tried for a short while and it didn’t work for me.  But then it is my path.  People I know and love tell me that drugs have really helped them.  They are a recognised relief in our current health system.  I’ve seen both sides of that equation, including many unpleasant side effects.  Someone close to me has been on them for around 30 years and their belief is that it is simply a case of getting the prescription right, because their body chemistry is somehow out of alignment.  It’s not aligned yet though… My own belief is that such intervention should only ever be short term and to help people to build back their strength, then come slowly off them again.  But I refuse to be judge and jury on this for everyone – I cannot comment on every case and all of the pros and cons therein.

The motto of Time to Change’s Mental Health Day 2015 is “I want to live in a world where no one feels ashamed to talk about mental health”.

So let’s shed that stigma.  Let’s share and discuss and seek the myriad ways forward – the ones that work for you, in your world.  Speak out and reach out and get the support that will serve you best.  And please, please, please – help me to keep doing the same.  By sharing you never know who you will help – and if that is you – then good, and if this reaches beyond you – then good…

The bug eyed monster came, then went, and I’m back to a more symmetrical view of me in the mirror now.  I’ve plotted my peace, then rested and laughed and talked and shared. I’ve discussed and prayed and watched over my loved ones, and myself.

And here is my most recent selfish selfie, taken on a sunny / windy day on a sandy beach; since life is both a bitch and a beach… It’s a picture that is more smiling and symmetrical, so I’ll share this one today too…IMG_2094

And the craziness may well return, for me and for many, but then so too I know, will the sanity and the beauty, if we keep speaking and sharing.

So good bye bug eyed monster and hello me, in all my imperfect glory.

I love you (and me) – crazy, swollen, beautiful and all.

S xxx

PS: A collection of my ‘Love Letters to Life’ have been gathered together in to a book – ‘Peachey Letters’ – exploring all the facets of life and love, in its’ gore and glory. The book has been featured in Psychologies Magazine and The Lady, as well other local and national press.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including Hive (paperback and Ebook) and Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)… Or else ask your local bookshop to stock it and order it in…