POETRY: By Ruth Stacey

Ruth Stacey experienced postpartum psychosis in 2019 and spent time recovering at the Jasmine Lodge Mother and Baby Unit in Exeter. Here she shares two poems.


Is it weird when I'm ill?

Is it weird when I'm ill?

Do the family calls dry up like a lake desperate for water?

The dehydrated ground visible  - vulnerable

Or do the calls pile in, muddled and rushing like a river due to burst its banks?

Something must give eventually.

I have already 'given'

Entering my weird world of an altered reality, a fake truism, must disturb, peturb, frighten, confuse

The focus of our family pulled in - a black hole of queries and questions

Do we go along with her illness?

Do we challenge her new, temporary, fragile belief system?

No, you just tell her that she's right and everything will be alright:

Safe, safe, safe

Love, love, love

Desperate eyes, a heart beating so irratically that it doesn't know whether to feel excited or scared,

Whether to run or challenge or smile or laugh

Doing all perhaps, a simultaneous level of 'scare' to the time-shattered onlookers

No time for your own grief.

No time to shed your own harrowing tears

Not now although

It. Will. Come - I promise

Stick with me and my unpredictable beast-of-an-illness

Laugh when I'm crying and cuddle me like I was your baby again because this world is ultimate so new to me

I don't know what to do!

I don't know how to feel and I keep getting it so very wrong

Put your lives oh hold, onlookers - dry your precious tears and lend me your strength

Because I'll be back again

I just need your presence and love and hugs and reassurance to plug the terrible holes in my mental reality

My mental instability

I'll love you back forever

Is it weird when I'm ill?

Because, I'm so very sorry


MBU

MBU:
Distant yet near
Heart-renching, heart-healing
Confused-focus
Hair-pulling thanks
Deniable admission
Crazed sanity
Compelling kindness
Suffocating slowness
Halted healing
Psychosis revealing
Manic mothering
'Too tight' cuddling
Painted horizons
Hypermanic revelations
Doors closed, doors opened
Small world widened
Rosemary-scented serenity
Glass house hospital
So cared for yet utterly lonely
Feisty Independence
Utter dependence
Mouth fed, baby and me
Medication denial
Medication dependable
Sleep saviour
Clock-watching
Corner-cowering
Gritted teeth
forced smiles
Form filling
Mindfulness
Food hatred
Food lover
Baby carer - obsessor
Never neglector
Nightmare, daymare
Dream giver dream taker
Minutes rush
Days drag
Where even am I?
Where are you all?
Reflection redemption
Repeated affirmations
I can, I Will, I am...
MBU - how can what seemed a nightmare have been my saviour?
I felt like the unluckiest person alive,
Our baby doomed
A new reality of utter heartfelt appreciation, adoration
How time changes and heals
And a warmth glows fondly in the hole that was once was,
A year on reflection