Writing and Mental Health – What I learned at #UnbrokenFest

Mental health and writing, like alcoholism, have always gone hand in hand. One need only consult the life of Hunter S Thompson or Charles Bukowksi to understand it is the same thing. I wanted to discover though – outside of these glamorous, fictional representations of transgressions of the mind, how creativity and mental health fit; and sometimes work together, in 2017.


We could all do more to help society. Help the communities in which we reside.

If you disagree, you are a liar.

I won’t often talk about what I do, because I know it is not enough, so when I was presented with an opportunity to raise awareness for depression and anxiety through my writing, I took it.

I’m glad I did.

I was stunned.

If you’re reading this as someone that struggles with the aforementioned burdens I can only say that I’m sorry and if you want to talk, I’ll be here.

People don’t talk though.

They create.

Let me show you what they created:


This art is beautiful, and painful.

On the recommendation of a friend on Facebook, I volunteered to contribute some writing.

The idea was to respond to art created by someone suffering – it didn’t matter how we did it.

My responses were just two of twelve beautiful pieces of writing that the Unbroken Showcase – hosted by Theatre503 – exhibited in Battersea this October, along with some impressive music, theatre and more.

Check it out next year if you missed it this time.


Opting for poetry (something if you’ve looked in the scrapbook you’ll know I am weak at), I wrote a response to the first piece titled “gloves”.

They seemed to like it, so I did another for them called “teeth”.

Seeing the art was difficult because I felt guilt: I am not suffering, but I know people are, so the least I could do was try and help.

What I didn’t know at the time, was that the artists would post a response to my response.

Their messages were incredible, and I wish I’d been able to meet this particular artist on the day I went to the exhibition.

They talked about how they’d never shown these pieces, and always hidden behind the mask of anonymity.

I had that feeling, which is why I called the first piece “Gloves”, which I will recreate below:

The art reminded me that people have crutches. These might be physical, or they might be emotional, but sometimes what we think of as armour is actually weighing us down and unnecessary.

If you’re constantly “putting a brave face on”, it’s important to remember to take it off.

I wanted to hide a positive message, in something that is overwhelmingly negative.

The same feeling came over me as I wrote the second piece, called “Teeth”.



I am saddened and humbled by this experience, and can only hope that the pain these artists were experienced, has been somewhat lessened by sharing the burden.

There was a bit of talk about how I might continue my relationship with the people that organised this event which is quite exciting, but I won’t make any promises to myself or them just yet.

After all, everything is late, and some things are more important.