In this article, you’ll know about the impact of mental health on poetry. You will learn how dreams work to inform imagery.
In 2017, when our condominium authority hosted a free health camp, there was a psychiatrist who I thought I should meet and figure out why my dreams are so bizarre? Of course, it is a different fact that I am good at recycling; I would recycle my dreams (should I call them nightmares?) into poems. The psychiatrist with 35 years of experience of working in a mental asylum after listening to my rant concluded that I have a schizo-affected disorder (SAD). Looking at my face, he assured that all mathematicians, scientists, artists, and poets are delusional; it helps them imagine and then give life to that imagination. Honestly, I was terrified.
Poetry and Mental Health
The psychiatrist’s observation of my mental health led me to think and re-think my situation. I researched a lot and learned a lot, and over a period, I developed a toxic amount of empathy. This empathy escalated to a level wherein I couldn’t judge criminals because my mind would ask what if I harmed a child, killed a man, and detonated a country. Someone even remarked, “Her poems are full of violence.” On the page, I would try to bury my anxiety, not knowing that the lyrics would melt over time and but the skeleton of anxiety will remain.
By 2019, fear got a better grip of me. My dreams were more bizarre than before. Whoever I would share my dreams with would suggest me selling the plot to a Hollywood director. I would dream of Elon Musk, in his attempt for a low-cost carrier of the human race to another planet, has invented a syringe. It reduces the race to a drop that repopulates on release. A pimple festered into a lake on my arm. In it, ducks waded in peace and lotuses bloomed like halogen pink. Reminds of Langston Hughes’ dream, does it?
A New Diagnosis
My imagery was never a deliberate attempt of my conscious language. It was always a conjuring of all the shards of empathy that bled me to insomnia. I escaped medication in 2017 because somewhere I knew I wasn’t SAD; I am the one who is eager and enthusiastic about life. But by 2019, although I didn’t feel suicidal, my poetry became more convoluted. A new diagnosis confirmed obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I asked if hearing and seeing imaginary stuff is a hallucination, am I hallucinating as a poet? The doctor suggested I focus on medication.