How should we talk about mental health?

I’ll be brief. As people who care about others, it wouldn’t hurt any of us to invest five or so minutes in reading this excellent TED article, and hope its wisdom sinks into our actions a little. Every person’s actions can make a difference.
And for those of us who are writers, we are in the privileged position of being able to contribute in a second way too — the right word, a feeling captured, a This Is Me moment someone reads in a book one day, can save a life.
Five or so minutes to read this, okay?
Sorry to be soapbox-ey, but it matters.

TED Blog

Mental health suffers from a major image problem. One in every four people experiences mental health issues — yet more than 40 percent of countries worldwide have no mental health policy. Across the board it seems like we have no idea how to talk about it respectfully and responsibly.

Stigma and discrimination are the two biggest obstacles to a productive public dialogue about mental health; indeed, the problem seems to be largely one of communication. So we asked seven mental health experts: How should we talk about mental health? How can informed and sensitive people do it right – and how can the media do it responsibly?

End the stigma

Easier said than done, of course. Says journalist Andrew Solomon, whose tear-inducing talk about depression was published today: “People still think that it’s shameful if they have a mental illness. They think it shows personal weakness. They think…

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So, since my last blog post I was melting butter again (pancakes this time) and saw another photo opportunity. Not sure what this looks like, but I’m pretty sure some people will find it upsetting anyway. Certainly Bruce, who’s considered huge in the insect world, but…

Anyway, I also remembered I wrote a poem called Melt.

So here’s that.


A secret life
to hide…
Is feeling

Sometime a he
come home to hide,
And touch a she
so deep inside
And torture be
a time he lied
And healing be
a word she cried

Then six cold men,
a frozen line,
No promise when,
no truth of time.
No now or then,
pretence of fine,
To live again ?
Sans lies sans fear sans wine….

Secret life
Feeling tips

Enlivened minds are melt
and faintest touch of skin,
a breathlessness heartfelt,
a falling floating in.
Sweat upon a lip,
two melt into a space
of heart and mind and hip,
and crushing flesh and face.

And when the moment’s done
and nothing left to hide,
The feeling to come,
a rising of the tide.
And riding on a wave
of love truth and desire,
The moment that we gave
did set our Lives afire…

Actually, I even made a stupid video for it. It’s had, like, 300 views in four years. And only 278 of them were me! I should have just linked to that instead of all this copying and pasting. But whatever. You should totally watch it if you’re really bored and have a minute and 13 seconds to kill. And I don’t sound like this all the time. Honest.


Steel and Feathers

Some years, men are not strong.

“What weighs more, a ton of steel or a ton of feathers?”
It’s what they ask you
when you’re a child.
(They hope to trip you up and make you wrong).

Then in your life,
your man life,
you try to find a home (that is a place to rest and be).
The soft and hard
they always weigh the same,
You be too much
of one and then the other (always wrong).

But one day,
in a really lucky life
you’ll find a place,
(and when I say
a place,
make no mistake,
of course
that place
it is a person)
This place you’ll find,
a place
where things aren’t weighed —
and you,
you’re right enough
(with her you’re home,
you’re always home,
and home is where you’ll always want to be)

Limerick Day

words hang in the air, somebody’s home, 2013

Okay, it’s Limerick Day, peoples.
Or Limerick Week.
Or Limerick Month maybe. I don’t do many blog posts.
Post a limerick you wrote yourself, or one someone else wrote (attributed if possible, though limericks seem to quickly become the property of the world), or both if you like. Or six limericks. Ten?
Or a good excuse for why the fuck you can’t even post one lousy limerick.

Did you know limericks didn’t even originate in Limerick?

Embracing Our Limitations

Well, it’s not like we don’t have plenty to embrace…
Great TED Talk by artist Phil Hansen, who developed a tremor in his hand that left him unable to create the art he lived for — until, after three years without making art, he went to see a neurologist who suggested he Embrace the Shake.
And didn’t he just!
Worth the ten minutes just to see his amazing art, but even better, the message on nurturing creativity is one of the best I’ve seen.

So, to follow his example, which box can you stop looking outside of, to find your art deep within?

Fifty Shades Success Explained by Nabokov

In 1956, the great Vladimir Nabokov wrote a short piece he called ON A BOOK ENTITLED LOLITA.
Apart from being a beautiful piece of writing in itself, he explains the seemingly unexplainable success of Fifty Shades of Grey.
You see, when he tried to find a U.S publisher for Lolita, all four he submitted the manuscript to completely misunderstood the work, some not even finishing reading it, and labelled it “pornography”, not mummy porn, but nevertheless, it’s certainly strange to hear Nabokov’s work labelled as anything like the pedestrian work of E.L James.

So here’s the relevant parts of Nabokov’s words.

‘… the term “pornography” connotes mediocrity, commercialism, and certain strict rules of narration. Obscenity must be mated with banality because every kind of aesthetic enjoyment has to be entirely replaced by simple sexual stimulation which demands the traditional word for direct action upon the patient.’


‘Thus, in pornographic novels, action has to be limited to the copulation of clichés. Style, structure, imagery should never distract the reader from his tepid lust. The novel must consist of an alternation of sexual scenes. The passages in between must be reduced to sutures of sense, logical bridges of the simplest design, brief expositions and explanations, which the reader will probably skip but must know they exist in order not to feel cheated ( a mentality stemming from the routine of “true” fairytales in childhood). Moreover, the sexual scenes in the book must follow a crescendo line, with new variations, new combinations, new sexes, and a steady increase in the number of participants (in a Sade play they call the gardener in), and therefore the end of the book must be more replete with lewd lore than the first chapters.’

So, casting my eyes through the above, I see the words mediocrity, commercialism, banality, and copulation of clichés. Fifty Shades certainly hasn’t much bothered us with style, structure or imagery, and to apply the words sutures of sense to James’s plot would be more than flattering.
The only difference between these Shades tragedies of literature and Nabokov’s suggestion of what constitutes a basic commercial pornographic novel is that in the Shades books the protagonists are faithful to each other. Which the TrendyPornMummies love. The simple twist that made it right for our times, and ok for every mindless mummy to love.

Comment as nicely or nastily as you like below, then please never speak of the above-mentioned books here ever again. Except for Lolita, which you should feel free to mention here and anywhere else you please, every day, forever and ever and ever. And we’ll live happily ever after.

Wanna argue about it?
Or better still, tell me which other great writer has advice for us on how to write the next MegaBestSellingPieceOfCrap???