The Dent in My Brain
*Previously posted on my website, thingsifeel.com.
People come in all different psychological shapes and sizes. Some are shaped by historical trauma, others are moulded into size by a string of over-nurtured parenting, and a few are the result of trauma, a chemical imbalance, and the sum of despicable behaviours from those who are chipped and frayed at the edges. Of course, there are other categories, such as those who are the ones who inflict trauma and emotional pain unto others; though one could argue they, too, have been subjected to some similar trauma at some point in their lives.
We’re a nation of injured folk. Of bent and bruised, misshapen minds, full of contusions and soul skeletons hidden amidst the fog of our spirit.
I’m one of the injured folk. Through a culmination of all of the above. Some of which I’ve yet to pull the dust sheet off, things left hidden, until I’m ready to unveil the contents beneath, until I’m ready to sort those things into categories and boxes, until I’m ready to process. Recently, I’ve been processing a particular dent in my mind.
This specific dent came from someone who felt the need to manipulate and bend others’ opinions. A man who didn’t just manipulate opinions, but manipulated information, reality, fact. A man who scapegoated those who he felt were inferior, who lacked intelligence, strength, and wherewithal to argue, to fight against his plot.
Oh how he completely underestimated me. I wasn’t unaware of his tactics, in fact, I was all too aware of his tactics. Manipulators are pretty similar. If you learn the algorithm of one manipulator, you can spot patterns in the rest. I saw them. The red flags. The abuse. The effort to wear me down, to make me feel less, to assert his power over me, to use me as scapegoat number one when any mistakes occurred. I saw it all, and I refused to confront it. Why? Because I choose my battles carefully. Many manipulators believe their own bullshittery. You cannot “win” against someone who believes their own lies as if it’s gospel.
Instead of spending so much of my emotional energy defending myself and fighting against him, I walked away, head held high, and “won” by doing the things he claimed I couldn’t do. I proved myself by just being me and in doing so, I proved everyone who believed his tales wrong too.
Strength doesn’t necessarily come from fighting, it comes from knowing how to fight and sometimes that fight is simply fought by walking in the opposite direction and proving everyone wrong.
I may have a dent because of this person, but I take great pleasure in knowing that this person is still lying to themselves, even now, blaming everyone else for the mistakes they made, not learning from anything they experience because of these lies, and just repeating their mistakes time and time again. My dent is a lesson. A lesson to listen to my intuition. To pay attention to my gut instincts, to grab hold of those red flags and to walk away sooner.
I cannot control how someone else behaves toward me, but I can control how I react and whether I stick around or not. The only thing that still plagues me is those who haven’t discovered his red flags yet. His collateral damage. The minds he’s bruising and using right now, until he applies enough pressure to dent them. The tools (read: other people) he draws into his manipulation and uses them to dent someone’s mind. Just like they did to me.
My advice to anyone coming across a manipulator is simple. Listen to your gut. If it doesn’t add up, it’s not your maths that’s wrong.
©️Sammie Adams 2020 - all rights reserved.
#blog #amwriting #thingsifeel #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters
the tabletop war
the table. a war ground, a place
where battle lines are drawn
between fullness and emptiness
a conflict of lacking interest and an over interest
a war between mind and stomach
between plate and food
plate and fork
fork and hand
fork and mouth
mouth and tongue
the warfare inhibiting the functionality
of swallowing, of tasting
it’s a crime to swallow, to taste
the bombs explode in brains
with crowds that shout and scream
with warnings, redirecting your attention
from table to exit points
“leave the room”
“don’t touch the fork”
“turn away from the table”
i can’t sounds like i won’t
it’s too dangerous
this meal has the ability to hurt my family
that’s what the war said
navigating through the silence of the room
of the war on the table that’s mirrored in a head
is a swamp of detritus and mines
mines that can’t be detonated
all i can do, is sit and watch
try to be louder than the war, yet
my voice is heard as a snarl, a whispered
warning to ignore
as the war consumes
and leaves plates full...
© Sammie 2020
#TriggerWarning #EatingDisorder #AnorexiaNervosa #Recovery #StopTheStigma
Where the hell did the time go?
It's been a while. For the last four (ish) years, Paul and I have been researching, developing, and implementing our tailored Creative Mental Health Programme™ to reduce the symptoms of mental illness whilst also improving the lives of anyone interested in learning to use our tools to assist their mental health and wellbeing.
It has been one hell of a journey and we have learned so much.
Paul and I left our roles to do something that we felt was needed in the world. Something that I was told was a "waste of time" by certain powers that be. That doesn't make me mad, it makes me grateful. If we'd have run with my idea at that point in time it would've tied us to a place that caused me and my colleagues a noticeable decline of our mental health and wellbeing.
We took a risk - we didn't know whether it would work - we busted our balls and found ourselves in a place of learning, connection, and empowerment. We started as a team of four, and now have expanded to a payrolled team of 24 and a volunteer base of many more.
Being the CEO and Co-founder of PoetsIN has been the most rewarding experience of my life (besides being a mother). Setting up a charity in the UK often costs a lot as an initial outlay; money that we didn't have. At this point I did what I always do - I learned. I swore a lot. I cried many frustrated tears. I laughed a lot. During that initial setup period I felt many emotions, but used the words of the former powers that be to fuel my determination and dedication to get it right and not make the mistakes I'd seen them make time and time again. I think it's likely that I was underestimated as a business woman, but again, I used that to drive me forward within my own career.
It's hard running a charity yet we have flourished year upon year due to the tenders and contracts we have won. We have met some incredible people with some fascinating and heartbreaking stories. We have built a team who are as dedicated to our cause as we are. We have spoken at various events about what we do and how we do it. We have won awards - with our most recent being Mental Health Charity of the Year 2020 in the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Awards. I could write multiple paragraphs of our achievements and of the thousands of lives we have changed and I still wouldn't have covered even half of the successes and lessons we have learned.
Back in June we were approached by filmmakers who wanted to partner with us during the production and release of their feature film. Last night, I sent a member of the team on set to watch the film being made. Tonight, another team member is visiting the film set. Our experience and education in the topic of mental health and wellbeing, along with the unique approach we take when it comes to supporting those with mental ill-health has opened doors to opportunities and experiences that we never thought possible.
Our lives are richer, our lives are so colourful, our lives are better because of PoetsIN. We have learned so much about ourselves and our own mental health during this journey and our goals have never been more ambitious - yet totally achievable.
In the past, I allowed my own mental health to be dictated by a few individuals who made me question my worth, value, and my skills. I realise now how wrong they were but also how wrong I was to listen to their voices and allow mine to be suffocated. The proof is in the pudding (as my nan would say), and my pudding is overflowing with the nectar of goodness, fulfilment, achievement, and longevity. This wouldn’t happen without the skills, value, and worth I possess in a world where most charities fail within their first three years.
Something we are hugely proud of is our workplace culture. Our employees and volunteers feel supported, valued, worthy, empowered, and happy to work for us. They love their job and because of this we have people approaching us constantly looking for work. People want to work for us, with us, as a part of the PoetsIN family.
I want to come back to the title of this piece, where the hell did the time go? It went into people. Into life - saving them, changing them, improving them. It went into having a voice, giving a voice to the silent, and changing the voices of those who impose those age-old stigma we so often hear. My silence here isn’t a sign of weakness, of crawling away into a hole and hiding - it’s a sign of strength, of repair and renewal, of growth and evolution.
I know my worth, my strengths, and the places where I need to grow my skill set. I’m Sammie 2.0 and I won’t ever be taken for a fool, or for granted, again. A big thank you to those who didn’t believe in me, in us, to those who used us as a tool to reposition themselves, to those who used me as a scapegoat rather than owning their own faults, to those who told me it was a waste of time, to those who didn’t believe in us - you made this possible. You gave us the life you wanted through trying to control and manipulate us. Finally, to the architect who thought I was an asshole at first but then fastly became someone I was hugely fond of and who inspired me with his intelligence, thank you for spending your time seeing me for who I am. I truly appreciate you.
If you are struggling with your mental health, we have a range of fully-funded services you can access (free of charge). Just reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and our team will help direct you to the right service.
For anyone who wants to improve their mental wellbeing, we are running one-hour free mental wellbeing workshops via Zoom. If you are interested in these, please email email@example.com and we will get you booked in to our next available slot.
I won’t leave it so long next time. I may even share my own creativity with you all at some point. My pen has never been so ink-filled.
#PoetsIN #MentalHealth #MentalHealthMatters #Evolved #Evolution #ImBack
Exciting News & PoetsIN
Long time no post. I’ve been absolutely slammed but while I have a minute or two, I thought I’d check in and let you know what I’ve been up to and let you all know about some exciting opportunities.
Some of you will remember the Letters from Prison Portal here, where Paul and I would visit prison, teach writing workshops, and post their pieces here. This is where PoetsIN was born. Paul and I realised that writing was a form of therapy and the prisoners were reporting astounding results.
After parting ways with Prose, we tailored our groups further with an emphasis on rehabilitation, mental illness, and suicide prevention. We began to measure the outcomes of each session, and over a set period of time had evidence that what we do worked with 99% of the service users. To put this into perspective, CBT in the UK via the NHS works in 48% of the cases they work with. If CBT doesn’t work, the service user is given no other therapy. Talking therapy such as counselling is no longer provided on the NHS because that was only successful 29% of the time, which is way below the threshold of success the NHS will work with.
With our 99% success rate we went to the UK Charity Commission. Wrote our governing document, recruited 5 trustees, filled in a ridiculously long application form to register as a charity, and submitted it. Then we waited.
Whilst we sat thinking of all the things we could’ve included in our application but didn’t, and worrying about all the things we may have done wrong, we carried on with our groups. Expanding them and trialling new techniques and measures of capturing data to ensure maximum impact. We got such good feedback from the prison directors that we were offered a grant from a trust for $50k - before we were even a charity - which is unheard of. Visit www.poetsin.com/testimonials to see what people have been saying about what we do.
Four months passed and we finally received our answer. We’d done it! We were a charity.
Since then we have won three awards. We were named Mental Health Heroes 2017 alongside Talia Bennington, Mental health workshop provider of the year 2018, and Nonprofit of the Year 2018. We have also employed some faces you may recognise. The lovely Karen, who used to design Prose images, the badass Lish, and we’ve just hired a wonderful fundraiser, Pippa. MilesNowhere and Amanda Cary have also joined the family and have been vital to PoetsIN, and my own personal sanity.
We are now a week away from launching online writing therapy groups that people can access from wherever they’re located, along with in-community groups external to prisons across certain parts of the UK to begin with.
We also have a growing Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/groups/poetsin) that is full of old faces from here and new faces from beyond, along with a website that has mental health and writing blogs galore.
We’ve opened our own publishing company, PoetsIN Publishing, that offers the best royalties EVER and any royalties taken by PoetsIN Publishing are all ploughed back into the charity to reach more people who need our help. The best thing about the publishing company is that we want to publish poetry. Many traditional publishers don’t. We do. We are publishing print and eBooks, and have already accepted submissions that will be released this year.
We have a current challenge running for an anthology. Our first anthology open submission call was a huge success and will be published within the next month - we’re just putting the final touches to it. The current submission call is on the topic of addiction, and you are all more than welcome to submit! The more the merrier. Visit this link to submit https://buff.ly/2EdHxwe
Those of you in the UK should come down to our huge all day fundraising event in Camden, London 28th July. It is being held at the iconic Nambucca venue that has housed Oasis, Blur, and many more. We have a full day of amazing lineups from spoken word poets, comedians, and acoustic and indie music. All acts are donating their talents and time to us for free along with many companies who have donated prizes that we will raffle and auction off at the event. We also have a Skydive coming up in September, more details about that can be found on our social networks.
There have been people that doubted Paul and I - along with our mission - but our determination, skills, and experience have served us well, built our confidence, and given a much-needed lifeline to those that truly needed keeping safe.
Setting up a charity is far harder than setting up a business, and if we can do that, you guys can do anything. One word, one poem, one story at a time.
Paul and I both hope you’ll join us elsewhere on the interwebs but in the meantime, write on!
#PoetsIN #PoetsINPrison #Charity #NPO #Publishing #WritingContests #GetPublished #Poetry #InsideOut