We are pleased to offer our readers the newest entry in our digital chapbook series: IT’S GOT TO BE LOVE THAT IS LOUD. This chapbook is a special project with two sections; the first offers insights and poetry regarding mental health, and the second is a list of resources — links and contact information for mental health awareness and support. (At the time of publication, we have only three sections of listings: South Africa, US, and global / online / not-country-specific. We want to expand this section, and are asking for your help.)
Praxis Magazine Online intends for this chapbook to serve as an ongoing, evolving resource. We would like to invite our readers to send in links to additional mental health resources, either in your area or available online / globally. Please send resources via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Mental Health Resource” in the subject line. We will update the RESOURCES section of this chapbook regularly with new entries as we receive additional information from our readers
Read the introduction, “How Are You Today – Really?” by Shannon Hopkins, then download and read IT’S GOT TO BE LOVE THAT IS LOUD.
How Are You Today – Really?
An Introduction by Shannon Hopkins
Depression, anxiety and the variety of other states that make up the mental health spectrum are a common aspect of our modern social landscape. These conditions seem to be even more prevalent among those who think and feel more deeply – such as thinkers, artists and writers. For instance former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called his depression the “black dog”, poet Sylvia Plath committed suicide at only 30 years old following a lifetime’s struggle with depression, and Ingrid Jonker, the troubled South African poet, drowned herself at 32 (referenced by Abigail George in this anthology).
The following collection traces experiences of loss and trauma, delicately touching on those feelings and sensibilities that anyone who has suffered from distress or sadness may recognise so well. This is apparent in Ifeanyi Chikereuba’s piece within this collection – Chikereuba writes:
i am lost in
familiar places with
Is that not the pith of mental health challenges – feeling isolated, different, unaccepted? And most people experience these feelings at some point. The trope of water comes up again and again in the collection as well, asserting the feelings of aloneness, sinking, drowning, of being pulled down, when depression has one in its grip.
The state of a one’s mental health is not something that should only be dealt with in the eleventh hour, but something that should be carefully guarded daily. A lack of notice or compassion of someone’s encountering a difficult time in their lives can become a second site of trauma and anxiety. The balm to the wound? Finding a space of expression. Kindness. Compassion. Understanding. Taking the time to consider each other, to think about the things we say, how we say them, and what actions we take when engaging with others can go a long way to assist in healing.
For, as Bill McCloud writes in his piece included in this anthology, “at some point, we can only hope that the voices we can use to express connection, encouragement, love and respect to those who may be in need of hearing it will drown out any interior voices that may be encouraging extreme actions”.
As an artistic person myself, I have struggled with feelings of anxiety and melancholy since a child. While like most I have experienced mild to moderate trauma in life, I cannot honestly say these experiences are what has created my ‘dis-ease’. It seems to be, for the most part, an innate existential sadness, a mood a lot like that of waking from afternoon sleep as a child, which leaves one feeling adrift. It is perhaps a heightened ability to feel. It may therefore seem not very serious to others, but the feelings of despondency are at times totally overpowering, so very heavy, making it difficult to achieve the simplest of things. I feel huge relief, however, when having authentic interactions with others. So I think empathy is crucial when it comes to dealing with mental health on a daily basis. I believe so much can be soothed by truly looking into each other and simply asking, “How are you today – really?”
Download and read IT’S GOT TO BE LOVE THAT IS LOUD