The 1870s way, to be precise.
James Thomson (1834-1882) suffered from insomnia, alcoholism and chronic depression, and his most famous poem, ‘The City of Dreadful Night’, was a product of those struggles. I hope he would have forgiven me for likening his poem to an exceedingly long blog post. I do it only because for me, the first few verses, which describe his motivations for writing, perfectly encapsulate a number of my own (and perhaps others’) reasons for blogging about mental health. Reasons that include: a desire to expose the truth, unpleasant though it may sometimes be; to break free of the need to always remain ‘hidden’; to feel empowered by being able to express pain; and to reach out, to gain a sense of fellowship, and to realise that we are not alone in our experiences.
I discovered this poem in the forgotten recesses of my school library, many years ago. I have loved it ever since, particularly the first and last sections. I wanted to share it with you, particularly as verses 1, 2 and 5 (copied in the image below) spoke to me so strongly of the desire to give form and expression to reality ‘as it really is’ and to connect with other ‘fellow travellers’. And it’s inspiring that we can do that across the centuries, as well as across the technological ether.