Another Helen Hasting’s Mental Health Blog…Read On

Helen Hastings writes about life's journeys and touches on the American poet Bukowski who lived a chaotic lifestyle.

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Helen Hastings writes about life’s journeys and touches on the American poet Bukowski who lived a chaotic lifestyle.

The much celebrated American poet Charles Bukowski (1920-94) very famously once said: “Some people never go crazy, what terrible lives they must lead”. As quotes go, it’s one of my favourites.  

It suggests that going crazy is almost a rite of passage, that until we’ve lost our way and temporarily destroyed our life paths, then we can’t truly be happy in our humanity.

A terrible alcoholic and serial womaniser, Bukowski, a prolific underground poet, would map out his life using a raw and uncomplicated language that some scholars ruled out as being poetic at all. 

Undeterred, he bashed long into the night on an ancient typewriter, documenting his tragic ill-fated love affairs with prostitutes and his vomit inducing and disastrous night outs at the local dog racing track. 

Helen Hastings, writing on mental health, touches on the life of American underground poet Charles Bukowski.

He was in many ways the antithesis of poetry, a man who was all wrong and bent out of shape with life, not so much living the dream as being trailed through a nightmare.

I love artists like Bukowski for the same reason that many people don’t. He brings art too close to the knuckle and reminds everyone of some part of them. I like to celebrate the broken people, the folks who map out all their short comings and failings, allowing their readers to nestle close and feel a connection. 

Bukowski was saying it very loudly in between the lines of his work that it was ok to be a disaster, and that all broken dreams did not have to be in vain.

I have woken up many times in my life and felt lost and broken. Almost as if the woman I was meant to be has walked away, choosing a better life path while leaving her doppleganger failure behind. 

However, life experience has now taught me that I am not alone, that the best of us have been broken apart and stuck back together again, the most interesting and ‘alive’ people I know have come back from tragedies and circumstance the likes of which I wouldn’t wish on my greatest enemy.

It’s the people who sit across a table from me and open their hearts, revealing the damage in their lives that I find the most interesting, beautiful and brave. 

Ironically the way in which they reveal the darker side of their hearts makes them light up in my eyes… they shine like beacons and I want to get as close as possible.  I want to hear more of their stories; I want to run my fingers down the fractures, feeling every painful lump and bump of their journey.

We are sadly living our lives parallel to one of the greatest tragedies of the 21st century, social media. Perfection is thrived upon and acceptance and praise for wearing the right thing and looking the right way and living the right life has become the lifeblood of the younger generation. 

The room left over for the broken and the lost, for the Bukowskis of this new world is becoming smaller and smaller all the time.

I am only one person, I wage very little power and influence in this life, but I want this message to be clear.  There are other people just like me who will not judge you or think less of you for revealing the dark and broken areas of your life. 

So, come here, sit down and let me see where you think you have gone so wrong, tell me when you felt like giving up and when you felt like life really was Hell on Earth.  

You have been broken and repaired and you are all the more divine for it.

“You are not lost, you are here, and I am so glad.”

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Downpatrick writer Helen Hastings writes on mental health, straight from the heart.