I wrote this poem very quickly after an experience at home that I have now discovered is habitual and is linked to my mental health and a daily battle I wage against anxiety. In my world, anxiety is a rabbit. More Velveteen than Darko but a rabbit just the same. My totem and companion to my manic. The poem is dark, densely metaphoric but also recreates for me the feelings I have when in the grip of an anxious time.
My partner asked me the other day if I was perhaps still in trauma. I paused before answering that No..I did not think so. But over the course of the day, I realized that perhaps I was. Perhaps all women are – in pre, present and post trauma. The experiences we have over a lifetime make us who we are but of course the way we cope with them can be very different. If we have experienced negative relationships, death, illness, pregnancy related issues, abortion, miscarriage – the list goes on – then where does all this grief and emotion go to?
Perhaps my rabbit is the manifestation of my anxiety – egging me on to clean the bath in slippery shoes just to see – see if I will slip, have an accident – experience actual pain in exchange for the mental. I have experienced my fair share of hurt, rejection, disappointment and, on occasion out and out cruelty. Is it any wonder I reach for the bleach?
I am a risk taker. A thrill seeker. A reformed adrenalin junkie. Where once adrenalin fed my high and took me to amazing places – now the overload of cortisone has quite the opposite effect. It makes me tearful, unable to breathe and prone to shut down. Poets are often labelled as ‘mad’ and perhaps there is some truth in this. The world is bright and dazzling, lit with the most amazing yet also excruciatingly painful lights. As a poet, sometimes it is hard to keep looking at these bulbs. The rabbit in me freezes. The juggernaut of it all runs me over.
The fragility of that side of myself is hugely beneficial when expressing my truth in words. Despite the pain, it is my ability to experience and really feel that makes me the poet I am and will continue to be. As I get older (and in my more balanced moments!) I can cognify that owning my dysfunction is very liberating. Yes I may see rabbits and yes they may encourage me to clean the toilet at the most inappropriate of times but at least I can name what I am feeling. Anxiety seems like such an innocuous word. Mild in many ways but it is a limiting and serious condition. Poetry, the love of a patient supportive partner helps massively but I can’t see the rabbit and I parting company any time soon.
Photo is of an illustration with the title “Anxious times”. It shows a brown and white rabbit against a dark blue background. There are bottles in the background and apples or peaches in the foreground. The rabbit is leaning against an object which looks like a stove and jug, but is hard to properly identify as part of it is out of the frame. Photo by Tiffany Terry on flikr, used under a Creative Commons Licence.