• Stand Up Against Stigma! 23rd October Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

    CHRISTINE , DONNA AND GILLIAN AT STAND UP AGAINST STIGMA (640x480)

    Wee Read I am – Stand Up Against Stigma 23rd October, St Ninian’s Church, Stonehouse Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival 2015

    The gala night of local folk standing up against mental health stigma at Stonehouse on Friday 23rd was a brilliant event and I felt privileged to be a part of it. The event was produced by The Hope Café and Inspire  Theatre. The contributions from the Acting Bairns of Stonehouse and Inspire Young People about stigma from were very impressive and were the core of  first half of the event. These pieces were strong and well-performed. Songs written by Angel Newlands were outstanding. In the second half, At Theatre and the Inspire group showed us all their talents . The final piece was about Scott Baker- a friend of mine through our shared work as volunteers at the Hope Café. Scott showed a lot of courage in putting his story into a dramatic performance by Inspire Theatre,  which did just what it says on the tin- inspire!

    I am looking forward to seeing more from these young people! They all showed a great deal of talent, energy and determination in their performances. Well Done to them and thanks for a brilliant evening!

    The show started with a great singing experience from the Stonehouse Male Voice Choir which got everyone in the audience singing, clapping and chair-dancing!  The event was held in the main part of the church of St. Ninian’s and I felt slightly awed by this- and by the 150 people present!

    My Wee Read was based on the I am I am I am workshop, shortened to ‘I am’ – and as the number of people was more than expected, I had to change the format to simple reading – no chance to write or interact. Gillian Grant, an Edinburgh Comedy Festival star who works with Universal Comedy,  compèred the evening with funnies and pezazz! But, luckily, I was on after the tea break, so I had time for a cuppa tea before it.

    We had some lovely home made cake too!Especially liked the Rocky Road.  It was a bit nerve-racking standing with the bright stage lights in my face, and to a full church! I sat on the stage for the raffle winners,  with Donna Barrowman, the founder of The Hope Café.  I took courage from all the 150 people in front of me who had come to stand up against stigma, and the welcoming atmosphere provided in St. Ninian’s Church by the local people.

    I was slightly flummoxed at the start, however, it went well. I read 4 poems,  and here is a draft of my presentation:

    Wee Read is myself, Christine Cather and I am also a volunteer at The Hope Cafe. We enjoy a writing group there, that helps us to express ourselves, and I want to invite everyone to new reading and writing group at St. Ninian’s Church in Stonehouse.

    I stand up against stigma because when I was in despair and having suicidal thoughts, I could not talk about it. I want everyone to be able to speak about their mental health so that this doesn’t happen to them.

    What I’ll do is read 3 or 4 poems.

    And why this title ‘I am I am I am?’

    Because it’s a positive statement and embodies that passion that we are celebrating this year in the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.

    The quote “I am, I am, I am” appears in Sylvia Plath’s novel, “The Bell Jar” about a fictional character who has depression, and attempts suicide.

    The quote is

    “I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am”.

    The first poem is Patriot, by Norman MacCaig

    My only country
    is six feet high
    and whether I love it or not
    I’ll die
    for its independence.

    The country is myself. It is not about political independence but personal independence.

    What is stigma?

    When someone labels you as a discredited person;

    your identity is spoiled;

    your status is lost;

    the powerful social group then discriminates against you with a negative stereotype;

    you are no longer equal ;

    it results in social oppression.

    it is the powerful group who is to blame – not the person who is mentally ill.

    And this is not just against anyone with mental health but against anyone for being different, being labelled by society in many ways. For example, being of a different race, gender, sexual preference, disabled, wee, skinny, anything !

    Let’s hear a poem by Sylvia Plath, I am Vertical

    I am vertical.
    But I would rather be horizontal.
    I am not a tree with my root in the soil
    Sucking up minerals and motherly love
    So that each March I may gleam into leaf,
    Nor am I the beauty of a garden bed

    Attracting my share of “Ah’s and spectacularly painted,

    Unknowing I must soon unpetal.

    Compared with me, a tree is immortal

    And a flower-head not tall, but startling,

    And I want the one’s longevity and the other’s daring.

    Tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars,

    I walk among them , but none of them are noticing.

    Sometimes, I think that when I am sleeping

    I most perfectly resemble them –

    Thoughts gone dim.

    It is more natural to me, lying down.

    Then the sky and I are in open conversation.

    And I shall be more useful when I lie down finally:

    Then the trees may touch me for once, and the flowers have time for me.”

    (Extract.)

    Sylvia Plath

    Available

    http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/i-am-vertical/

    When I was in despair, my throat felt frozen. I could not speak.

    A poem by Maya Angelou, Caged Bird

    The free bird leaps
    on the back of the wind
    and floats downstream


    in the orange sun rays
    and dares to claim the sky.

    But a bird that stalks
    down his narrow cage
    can seldom see through
    his bars of rage
    his wings are clipped and
    his feet are tied
    so he opens his throat to sing.

    The caged bird sings
    with fearful trill
    of the things unknown
    but longed for still
    and his tune is heard
    on the distant hill for the caged bird
    sings of freedom

    The free bird thinks of another breeze
    and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
    and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
    and he names the sky his own.

    But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
    his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
    his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
    so he opens his throat to sing

    The caged bird sings
    with a fearful trill
    of things unknown
    but longed for still
    and his tune is heard
    on the distant hill
    for the caged bird
    sings of freedom.

    Maya Angelou (Extract.)

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178948

    Now – the final poem is more positive. This was about human rights, black rights in the 60’s in America.

    Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

    You may write me down in history
    With your bitter, twisted lies,
    You may tread me in the very dirt
    But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

    Does my sassiness upset you?
    Why are you beset with gloom?
    ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
    Pumping in my living room.

    Just like moons and like suns,
    With the certainty of tides,
    Just like hopes springing high,
    Still I’ll rise.

    Did you want to see me broken?
    Bowed head and lowered eyes?
    Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
    Weakened by my soulful cries.

    Does my haughtiness offend you?
    Don’t you take it awful hard
    ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
    Diggin’ in my own back yard.
    You may shoot me with your words,
    You may cut me with your eyes,
    You may kill me with your hatefulness,
    But still, like air, I’ll rise.

    Out of the huts of history’s shame
    I rise
    Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
    I rise
    I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
    Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
    Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
    I rise
    Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
    I rise
    Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
    I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
    I rise

    I rise

    I rise.

    Maya Angelou  (Extract.)

    Available

    https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/still-i-rise

     I was also given a surprise birthday bouquet and the audience sang Happy Birthday to You!

    2015-10-23 001 (640x480)

    Then before we finished a marvellous show  we all sang Lean On Me- the song that means so much to the Hope Café .We sang in unison, with all the volunteers,  actors, the many young people involved in the event and the Stonehouse Male Voice Choir all around us in a huge circle. Wonderful!Thanks to all concerned for an inspiring and meaningful evening!

    EVENT STAND UP V STIGMA 2

Author

Born in 1958 and brought up in Blantyre in a family of seven. Moved to Glasgow in 1976 and stayed until 2012. Then I moved back to Hamilton where I had attended secondary school, for 4 years. Home is now Glasgow, again, I am a weegie through 'n through. I have two daughters, and four granddaughters who all light up my life. My experience of working with poetry, writing, reading and so on is from my childhood. One of my poems was published in a school magazine when I was 12. I am now trying to publish my first grown-up booklet of poems within the next year or so. I trained and studied to become a librarian from 1977. It was the one job I wanted since reading in Hamilton Townhouse Library in the early 1970's!I watched the staff and thought, I'd like to work here... Bibliotherapy came into my life in 2007, at Glasgow Women's Library.

http://weeread.scot

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