Friday, 15 February 2013


Grrr!  So annoying when things don't go to plan!

Last night I spent about six hours trying to write a poem - or adapt one I had already written - for the Rethink Your Mind competition.  I was shattered by the end of it.  And not that happy with my work - I sent in a poem that I had massacred just to fit the remit 'With good mental health, I have...'

The first two verses of the poem were ok - I've put them on here before, when the rest of the poem took a completely different form  - but the subsequent three verses were trite, rhyming doggerel.  Still, I really wanted to win - the prize is an iPad and a trip to the House of Lords - and there weren't a lot of entries so I hoped I was in with a chance.

Nope, the poem was rejected.  The last three stanzas were apparently ok, but the first two were not positive enough!  But then, if the poem had started off positive, it would have been even more trite - and the whole point of what I wrote was that I had overcome my troubles, and triumphed...  Here it is, judge for yourselves.


(A poem on the theme 'With good mental health I have')

A festival, when I was young, meant drugs and mud

Wine to numb the mind, and love to stir the blood

Outlandishness or individuality, fun tinged with fear

Singing, dancing, portaloos and paranoia; campfires, beer

But then the balance tipped, the fear outweighed the fun

And madness loomed, and peace took far too long to follow on

For 'Schizophrenia' sapped my spirit, froze my brain

I switched my Self to 'Off', and thought I'd never laugh or love again

Yet now, twenty years on, I'm whole and strong

The shadows in my mind have long since flown

And, tamed by age, I've found an antidote to gloom

I've learned to celebrate the spectre in the room

I've learned to hold no shame, to conquer fear

I've found that drugs may help, but love can cure

I know that 'Schizophrenia' has no ring

Once love becomes a settled, settling thing

I've learned that when I want to talk and laugh

To sing and dance, and act completely mad

That I should never care what others think

I only wish now that I never had.

Not exactly disturbing, is it?  Was it the use of the word 'Madness' that didn't pass muster?  To be fair, the chap who wrote to me did say that, on a personal level, he liked the poem.  But then for all I know he says that to everyone whose poetry gets rejected - I know that Katy, who writes to me on here, had one of her entries rejected for the same reason as mine, and she couldn't see what was wrong with it either - but she adapted it and sent it in again and it was okay.  I have only got ten minutes left before the deadline, and I don't want to make the poem any worse than it already is!

Oh well.

So that was one frustration.

The next was that I took my daughter to the hospital this morning for an ultrasound scan.  She was off school anyway, for the start of half term, but to get her to the hospital I still had to organise and juggle various things - for example, one of my sons, who was also off school, went off swimming with his friend so that he didn't have to tag along with us.

It took me forty-five minutes to get to the hospital, and parking was a nightmare.  In the end, I had to use the multi-storey car park, which I hate.  Little daughter (I call her that because she is the younger daughter) was convinced that our car was too big for the car park, and that we would get stuck - the roof was very low.  I just hated hving to manouvre the vehicle - we have a seven seater car and these places are so tightly built.  And parking, when I finally found a space on the eighth floor, was hard too - it took ages, and I had to put up with a grumpy woman, who couldn't get past until I had parked, shouting and swearing at me for taking so long. 

It was not actually ages - it seemed so, but it was less than a minute.  The woman had a child in the car, and as I said to my daughter, I felt sorry for that child, whose mother was so close to the edge that she could not control her impatience.  And I was not just incompetent, the parking space was small - I could not even get out of my door once I had parked (it was next to a pillar) - I had to climb over and get out of the passenger side.

Anyhow, miraculously, we arrived in the Ultrasound Department at ten o'clock, right on time.  I hadn't been able to find the hospital letter before we'd left, and I would have liked to check it, but luckily I had got the time and place of the appointment right.  (I thought I had, it was on my calendar, but usually I would have brought the letter with me to be sure).
So.  On time.  But then, disaster struck.  The receptionist told me that my daughter should have an empty stomach to be tested.  She'd had breakfast.  I told the receptionist - and the nurse who came to see us about fifteen minutes later - that there had been nothing on the appointment letter about not eating, but they wouldn't do the scan.  It took half an hour for us to be told this, though.  They asked us to go to the desk to rebook the appointment, but the receptionists were busy and I said I would phone in later.
I went off steaming.  I was polite in the hospital, even said thank you before I left (for what?!) but it was a struggle to be pleasant.  I felt that my time had been wasted.  I had to then pay one pound eighty to get out of the nightmare car park, and so by the time we were on our way home I was even more annoyed.   One pound eighty (on top of wasted fuel).  Grrr!

I calmed myself down though.  I pointed out to my daughter that the sun was shining, we had time together to chat, we were going for a drive in our lovely car.  I was pleased that I had not vented my frustration in the hospital - the attitude of the receptionist and sonographer was not particularly polite, but I knew that getting cross would not have helped.  And when I got home and found the hospital letter - which did actually say that my daughter should have had nothing to eat for at least six hours previously, I was even more pleased that I had not made a fuss!

We have been studying stress in psychology for the last few weeks, and what it boils down to is that what you perceive as stressful, causes stress and has associated implications for the health of your body (and mind, surely).  So my mission is to learn to cope with the hassles of life in a sanguine fashion.  Which I suppose I have done this morning - I was mildly annoyed about the poetry, and about the waste of time and money at the hospital, but now I have moved on.

I do so love the company of my little daughter.  We are going to walk the dog together now, and then I am going to treat her to a nice lunch out.  (She has tummy troubles, hence the ultrasound scan, so we will have to choose food that doesn't set her off, although it can be hard to tell).  My son is doubtless having a lovely time with his friend, so everyone is happy.  Plus, no actual harm was done by the frustrations of the day, etc etc.

And it's always good to be able to write about these things!


  1. I am no expert but I like your poem just as it is.

  2. So have you managed to get a poem in for the competition then? The reason I was given for my initial poem being rejected was that young children access the site and that my initial poem was unsuitable. I could see how your first verse could be deemed unsuitable for young children and I can see where they are coming from. After I had edited my poem and had it accepted, I realised why it was initially rejected, I wrote about demons and darkness still prevailing. It was unsuitable for young children and when my second attempt was accepted, I could see that! The person who emailed me was lovely to me too and I was grateful to have another chance to send a second poem in! If you've not read the two poems I sent in, they're on the website now if you're interested.

    The sad thing about a lot of people these days is that they have no shame about shouting and swearing in front of their young children. I feel your sorrow for her child too. Children imitate their parents and if a young child sees a parent shouting and swearing at someone else, they're likely to do it too.

    But hey, at least you have been able to move on from this and make the most of the rest of your day. And a rant is always good as it gets the frustrations out and thrown away!

  3. Hi Anon - thanks... And Katy, I suppose you are right, I should have accepted the advice of the chap who wrote to me, amended my poem and resubmitted it. Or better still, written a new one. I had left the whole thing too late. But there is always next year - the years pass so fast now, I know that it won't seem five minutes until the next competition (they are running it annually). 'Rethink your Mind' is a user-led organisation, apparently, which is good. I have seen your poems - they are lovely, well done. I will be rooting for you!