Robert Harper
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New ventures, new days, old problems, ol ...

New ventures, new days, old problems, old comforts

Oct 10, 2021

With today being recognised as #WorldMentalHealthDay2021 it felt apt to ensure I didn't go another day without saying a little something on this blog. That's the issue with having mental health problems, starting a new venture that you know will surely help those problems can also be a cause for occasional (or worse) increases in the way they effect you.

And so it has been this week.

Early Tuesday morning, the day after my last post here, I had an overwhelming urge to start a new poetry magazine. I'd known ever since Bare Fiction crashed down around me (or was it I around it) that I wouldn't be done being a literary magazine editor. Though my feelings on the topic had been simmering in the should I/shouldn't I pile for quite some time due to suffering from a deep depression for so long, it always felt a thing that was necessary to, if I may employ the phrase, 'complete me'.

And so it does.

I texted my daughter, who was upstairs listening to music in her room, "Hey sweetheart I might have the craving to start a new magazine. 😱". "Really 😳", was her reply. I told her that I couldn't let it be, that I just had to do something but I didn't want to put myself under the same pressure to do something as vast and all consuming as before. That I would create an online only magazine (sad face emoji, print is wonderful but requires so much more money, software and admin) for just poetry this time. And I had an idea for what to call it.

And so she listens.

That's the marvellous thing about my daughter. When she herself is able (also being a sufferer of mental health issues) she is the best of sounding boards. For ideas, for discussions, for reading drafts of my poetry, she is a rock, a diamond if you will. And she listened, and she understood why I needed to be an editor again and she told me I wasn't crazy (though maybe a little) and that the concept for it made absolute sense.

And so it was.

That was it. I had made the decision and would go for it, but I would insist to myself that I would not try and make it massive and overwhelming to handle, that it should be simple, to the point, but elegant. Right now I still don't know exactly how often it will come out as a web issue, whether it will be weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually; how many poems and poets. I don't know, but I do have ideas that are forming and I have to keep reigning things back and remembering who and where I am. That although today might be World Mental Health Day, every day is a day in which I have to consider my actions and how they will affect my mental health.

And so I broke.

Take yesterday for example. A simple act of updating my personal Facebook profile led to an autistic episode of panic, frustration, anger and physical pain manifested from it all. All I had done was to put that I was now 'working' as editor for Disjointed Mag. The implications of that addition to my profile became quickly apparent. Suddenly I was being congratulated because Facebook posted that I had started a new 'job'. My adrenaline rose, my palms got sweaty, and heart raced. I was in no way ready for a job and besides, the new mag wasn't intended to be a job. It was intended to be a way of me getting out of bed earlier each day because now I would have a purpose. A thing that made me feel like I was of use. I was necessary.

And so I deleted.

That post and the panic and fear it instilled, it had to go and I had to (well I felt I had to) explain why. So I laid my heart and my truth out there and then I lay down to sleep. It was just after 1pm on a Saturday and I had no energy to sit upright and I was in pain and I had to just sleep.

And so I rested.

I woke to a pretty quiet house. My wife, still suffering fatigue from being ill herself, and my daughter with her own problems had gone back to bed. As is often the case with mental health induced fatigue and pain, the symptoms I felt earlier had lessened while I slept and I was able to make some food and relax in my own company.

And so I was comforted.

There had, and continues to be, an outpouring of kindness from friends and acquaintances to my honesty on Facebook. People sent me public and private message of their own stories dealing with depression, with autism in their family, in themselves. And once again I felt the warmth of years and years of multiple friendships coming toward me with open arms and open hearts and I once again, knew that I could go on. That I would be able to be who I am.

And so who am I?

I am a poet. I am a father. I am a husband. I am a friend. I am an actor. I am an editor. I am a person. I am none of these, I am all of these, I am more, and I am grateful.

And so I say thank you.

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