Reaching for the Light

Reaching for the Light


The Weight of Shadows

It’s ironic that at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, a mental health professional who helps others to deal with their problems is struggling with his own.  I’m sat at home, having spent a night of almost constant wakefulness and black mood, staring out at a gloriously sunny day in May: seagulls arc on the thermals, a light breeze stirs the fresh green leaves on the trees.

Inside, it feels like someone has flicked all the lights out and severed the connections to the pleasure centres of my brain.  I feel the weight of the shadows on my mind.  I have little motivation to eat or move.  I’m still in my dressing gown.  But that’s okay – I’m not going to beat myself up about it.  I don’t feel suicidal, but I have in the past.

In the past I have struggled with depression and Obsessional Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and accept with some inevitability that depression will creep up on me.  I expect it more in the winter months as there seems to be a seasonal cycle to my moods.  It is less expected in May.  As a psychotherapist I recognised that I’m vulnerable to certain stressors but despite this it continues to catch me out.

Today is different somehow perhaps for two reasons.  Firstly, I know that writing about my experiences helps me somehow to process and find some meaning in the darkness – especially writing poems; poetry illuminates the darker days.  Secondly, it seems important to tell other people directly about my experience of depression especially in Mental Health Awareness Week.  This way other people might not feel so isolated and stigmatised.  I know both as a writer and psychotherapist that it is our connections to each other and the dialogue we share at the very least is a welcome light in the darkness and ultimately can save lives.

So I would invite you to share/ write about your experience of mental health or comment if you found this short article useful.

Patrik Gryst


Me told ya him was gonna come… me told ya! Ya thought me was telling lies…spinning yarns…ya tried brush me aside…but me told ya!

Ya was in ya usual place…an him time were right…one day close to da next…midnight…ya drinking an laughing…an having a right merry time. An dem was laughing wid ya…rolling about when ya telling jokes an impressing folk wid ya deeds about all dem women…an all dat money ya got…so ya didn’t notice a ting…him caught ya off guard…cause me watch ya and tell him.

Him sneaky-sneak inta da room…yeah sure ya notice da chill in da air…ya did feel him breath on ya neck…dem didn’t notice a ting…dem singing an dancing an rolling about.

Suddenly ya feel so queer… an ya got da dread upon ya…first ting ya see is dem eyes…blacker than midnight an him skin…yeller…an him tongue like a serpent as it slither down ya throat an wrap around ya heart…an him squeeze until him gotta a good hold…an den de rest of him slide into ya body like a hand inta a glove…an ya cough…an ya panic…but den it too late…ya know him upon ya an he won’t let go…an it pure dread…as him talk ya ta sleep an him take over everyting.

Man me told ya…ya thought ya was hearing voices… but me real…an me bring ya to him… an now him got ya…an it pure dread.

Patrik Gryst (Nom de Plume)


som knuste glass
på den svarte skifer sand
stranda vår den morgenen
dagen smelte-vann
vasket vår shack

alt vi frelst
forankret til Kvitsjøen
den dagen du seilte rush-bølgen
Cassandra flytende frosset kaliko,
Jeg klatret isbreen
grublet din retur

Hvalfangerne gikk på grunn
med nyheten om deg
øyne obsidian svart
jage horisonter I
kunne aldri se,
Jeg klatret isbreen

leter etter en muse
i stein og tre og vann
staving av kulden
med bål og whisky
akseptere det uunngåelige i

Patrik Gryst (Nom de Plume)


Commuting and working in London does have some hidden benefits if your willing to step outside your usual journey. Aside from obvious monetary and career opportunities there is much urban landscape to explore if you are so inclined.

Rather than leaping straight on the tube to catch the same iron horse everyone else is racing for, book a slightly later, less crowded train and utilise your leg power to explore London’s rich landscape.

The demands and complexity of modern life are driven by time pressures and deadlines and my desire to rush home from work, especially on long cold, dark nights, as strong as anyone else’s. Despite this, I look forward to a chance to explore new territory in the spirit of Micro Adventure (see Alastair Humphries’ book and website: Walking back from Stratford to Euston, for example, through the verdant spaces of Victoria Park or the towpath of Regents Canal to Islington offers a different perspective on Victorian industrialisation and some quirky finds – even better if you can cycle and avoid the busy main road arteries.
Don’t be so surprised you’re bored of your commute if you don’t do something different. Try and open your eyes more and look up. Ever wondered where that narrow street or path goes – now’s your time to be spontaneous and find out. You never know where it might take you.