May’s Artist in Residence, Durre Shahwar, reads her poem, ‘I Wanted to Tell You’, which is about the difficulty of expressing mental health problems and its effect on the body. The poem was originally published in Inside the Bell Jar.
This poem came about after I noticed the first signs of not feeling quite hundred percent ‘myself’. It was a moment of full expression on paper after I had struggled to verbally communicate to someone quite close to me at the time as to how I was feeling. As a writer, I always try and find new ways to write about mental health that are engaging whilst also being authentic and raw. It is at once easy and difficult to tell someone you don’t feel quite right, that you feel depressed, or extremely happy one moment and the opposite another, or that you’re hearing voices. But how to do that in a way that they understand exactly what you mean and how it affects you? I wanted to dive deeper and express mental health through its manifestations on the body as a mapping of emotions metaphorically and physically. Mental health is more than a problem in our head; it is a threat to physical health, as well as our very sense of being. I hope this poems conveys that.