Exploring the narrative: poetry

Expressing these things in poetry has brought out the self I really am, apart from ED. My poetry has grown and changed as I have. It has helped me to realize I am not useless and that realization has assisted my healing. Through the process of writing I stopped hating myself. Now my poetry has evolved to become more about caring and wanting to touch and help others than just about me.
— Anne Edwards  (a participant in The Diary Healer)

Poetry is an art form that helps many people express how they feel. It may involve jotting down a poem now and then when feeling inspired, keeping a daily journal specifically for expressing ongoing thoughts and feelings in the form of poetry, or interspersing poetry into your regular diary. The benefits start with every word that is put on the page. Anne describes writing poetry as, literally, her heart and soul coming through her pen. Diary writing allows her to ‘let it all out’ and that’s good and necessary, too, but it lacks the metaphors, the emotions, the caring, love and even anguish that she can express in her poetry. For Anne, creating lyrical and narrative poems counteracts the voice of ED more effectively than prose.

Through poetry writing, Anne was able to let emotions out and, through reflecting on her works, achieve an extra degree of separation from her illness, and an extra spark of connection with self that allowed more processing of her feelings. Anne’s poem The Bench portrays the recovery path. While penned for a special friend and fellow traveller on the recovery journey, this poem is also for anyone who needs the outstretched hand of someone who cares and understands. Some friends move away, but others come along. Acknowledging and accepting that this is how life is, and affirming it in verse, eased Anne’s sadness.

The Bench

by Anne Edwards

There’s a bench just up ahead
Under some trees.
Let’s sit down,
Stop for a while.
We don’t have to talk
Unless you want to.
We can listen to the birds sing,
Feel the wind,
Enjoy the view,
And see,
Really see
The life that’s out there for us.
When we are both ready,
We can continue
Our journey of recovery.
I know it has its bumps
And steep hills,
But it also has its
Easier, smoother valleys and vistas.
The most important thing,
My friend,
Is that we not travel it alone.
It is a journey meant to be taken
Hand in hand.
Take mine.

Maybe you don’t love to write. The good news is that a diarist has options. For instance, my diaries look ‘much-loved’ in a much-used sort of way. They bulge sideways on the bookshelves. Sheets of paper of different colours, textures, shapes and sizes protrude beyond the covers, refusing to be neatly contained, and on more than several diaries, the binding, stretched beyond its limits, is threadbare, split and worn. This is because, besides storing daily accounts, the diary is a depository for photographs, pictures, drawings, doodles, lists, maps, newspaper cuttings and tear-outs, letters, greeting cards, invitations, and other mementoes collected during the course of a year. Every item adds to the narrative and dialogue of my story.

Many diarists find comfort in other forms of self-expression similar to poetry, such as song writing, various forms of art and illustration, and performance, as well as prose. This discovery was one of many revelations that occurred in writing The Diary Healer. Diarists described using various forms of creativity as a helpful coping technique that enables the release of painful and confusing thoughts and feelings in a way that feels safe for them.

Chronicling your story through poetry or song writing, drawing cartoons or painting, tattooing or any other forms of expression, will connect the mind and body. If you are interested in having your creative work featured on our site, provide brief details in an email by clicking here.

Kindred Spirit

by Anne Edwards

Distance never mattered,
computers and smartphones
are wonderful things.
Hearts working toward
a common cause
know no boundaries.
Looking back,
I now know
it was meant to be.
“The Diary Healer” kept me going.
It challenged me,
broadened me,
gave me a sense of purpose.
It allowed me to meet people
all over the world
right from my house!
It kept the flame within me
to reach out and help
those going through
or learning about
a hell named ED,
a hell I had once gone through.
Hold on to that word.
Keep writing,
expressing your voice.
You can make it.
I believe in you
and I truly care.

About June Alexander

I have written nine books about eating disorders since my recovery (my “reconnection with true self”) from anorexia nervosa and other long term mental health challenges in 2006. In 2017, I graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy (Creative Writing). My contribution to the eating disorder field was recognised at the 2016 Academy for Eating Disorders International Conference in San Francisco where I was awarded the Meehan/Hartley Award for Public Service and Advocacy. I am currently a co-chair of the NEDC Steering Committee Evidence of Experience Group, a foundation steering committee member of the annual World Eating Disorders Action Day, and an Advisory Panel member for F.E.A.S.T.

All articles by June Alexander

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