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ISSUE 65, 2018

• • • • • •

Time Credits Mindfulness Holistic Benefits of Therapy Navigating Your Way Out of a Crisis Sugar & Depression Wellbeing News


Equilibrium Patron Dr Liz Miller Mind Champion, 2008

What Equilibrium means to me‌. WEB ALERTS If you know anyone who would like to be on our mailing list to get the magazine four times a year (no spam!) please email: equilibriumteam@hotmail. ( equilibrium). Equilibrium is devised, created, and produced entirely by team members with experience of the mental health system. Photo copyright remains with all individual artists and Equilibrium. All rights reserved 2011.

Graphic Design: Anthony J. Parke

I enjoyed writing a short article for the mental health magazine Equilibrium based on my personal experience of having a mental illness for the last 20 years. The office environment and people were all friendly and gave support on tap, especially when you got stuck for ideas or needed technical help using the computer. The other contributors present all shared a mental health history, so gelled well together and we were made to feel very welcome. Norman I found Equilibrium at a crucial point, where I found an open door to try a new healing form of writing and expression. Honest, happy, healthy. One thing I have to say, I go at my own pace and learn little lessons on computers, in art and writing, communicating, and ultimately a chance to get some self-confidence and self-esteem back after being belittled and degraded and abused. I found the open light of Equilibrium at the end of a dark tunnel of life. Equilibrium gives me a purpose. Thank you. Blessings. Richard The magazine means a lot to me for the reason is that it allows me to write about various aspects of mental health and wellbeing. This is one of the only places where you can talk about this sticky matter and issues surrounding wellbeing. Working here also allows me to meet like-minded people, who are passionate about talking about their experiences of their conditions. Seeing these issues being published spreads information on mental health, and other topics, even further. Devzilla Equilibrium has been a fantastic form of expression for me. I have the choice to write about what I want and I can put my ideas into practice. I have been with Equilibrium since 2007 and I never run out of ideas of things to write about. I have enjoyed writing articles, and reviews about plays, books and galleries. The Equilibrium team has changed from time to time, but we still manage to produce four copies of the magazine a year. Angela


EDITORIAL Hello, readers, and welcome to the spring issue of Equilibrium Magazine. It is both incredible and strange to think that we are nearly halfway through 2018. As always, our awareness and knowledge of mental health and, of course, mental ill-health, is constantly developing and expanding. For example, new research has shown that 50% of recently bereaved individuals feel obligated to go back to work, and 40% experience isolation in the workplace following bereavements Link. In this issue, we have included articles detailing both the effects of excessive sugar consumption on mental health and the intricacies of different therapeutic models. We have also included a superb selection of creative contributions that deal with subjects like the intensity of the artistic mission and the desire for warmth and compassion. As always, I would like to thank our hardworking and talented writers; you are the heart of Equilibrium. I hope you enjoy reading the contributions presented in this edition. Be well and happy reading. Namaste. Emily, Editor/Team Facilitator

DISCLAIMER Equilibrium is produced by service users. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly forbidden without the prior permission of the Equilibrium team. Products, articles and services advertised in this publication do not necessarily carry the endorsement of Equilibrium or any of our partners. Any material that has been reprinted is, as far as we know, in the public domain. If you have any concerns about anything printed within Equilibrium, please contact the team via the email below. Equilibrium is published and circulated electronically four times a year to a database of subscribers; if you do not wish to receive Equilibrium or have received it by mistake, please email unsubscribe to

THE TEAM Facilitator/Editor: Emily Sherris Editorial team: Dev, Angela, Nigel, Richard, Richard.

CONTACT US Equilibrium, Clarendon Recovery College, Clarendon Road, London, N8 ODJ. 0208 489 4860,

CONTRIBUTIONS Wanted: contributions to Equilibrium! Please email us with your news, views, poems, photos and articles. Anonymity guaranteed if required.




Summer/ Issue 38

“There were many reasons why I first began volunteering. As someone who suffers from social anxiety disorder and depression, I wanted to find a way to combat it head-on, but in an environment where I felt comfortable. I also wanted to gain new skills that could help me


t first, I was unaware of Time Credits when I decided to

become a volunteer; they are defi-

towards one day finding a

nitely an amazing incentive to keep




be extremely isolating. Those of us

Suffering from a mental illness can who are often look for a safe space, a place they can be free from the stigma. I found that safe space at the Clarendon Recovery College. Although I was extremely nervous about attending at first, my anxiety eventually gave way as I quickly found that the people were warm and welcoming. I was able to go from rarely leaving the house to signing up for a range of short courses. This


included everything from the intrigu-

earn Time Credits. Time Credits give

ing debates of philosophy to the fun

you access to countless opportunities

and supportive exercise classes to

around London for free. This means I

more creative and sociable subjects

have been able to experience things

such as knitting and beading. The

that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve

courses were definitely an enjoyable

lived in London my whole life but had

and helpful first step in improving

never truly explored it. However, this

my mental and physical health. I still

past summer, thanks to Time Cred-

attend some courses and have been

its, I was able to treat myself and my

able to gain new hobbies through

cousin to a trip around London. This

beading, where I’ve been allowed

included a hilarious and informative

to go from simple beading to wire-

guided tour of the Tower of London

work to chain maille. I am now able

by a Yeoman Warder; a climb up the

to make a range of jewellery through

three hundred and eleven steps of

the supportive guidance of the

the Great Fire of London Monument,


which was rewarded by an amazing

Once I got comfortable, I decided view; a boat ride across the Thames to challenge myself further by

River with the Thames Clippers; and a

volunteering at the Hideaway Café

visit to see inside the stunning St Paul’s

located inside the college. I started

Cathedral. This was all paid for with

as a kitchen assistant and then

Time Credits, which meant a trip that

became a cashier and barista when

could have cost upwards of £100 was

my confidence grew. As I continued

completely free! And yet we had only

to gain courage, meet new people

scratched the surface of the incred-

and gain new skills, I was also able to

ible opportunities available to us.


Summer/ Issue 38

One of the best things about volunteering is the ability to meet new people and socialise. Time Credits has allowed me to organise fun trips with fellow volunteers, e.g. seeing a film at one of the cinemas that accepts them. I also plan to continue looking after my physical wellbeing by joining a gym that accepts the Credits. I know many people who have benefited immeasurably from receiving Time Credits and have used them to pay for courses around London, join self-defence classes or even attend one of the outings organised by Spice, including quiz nights and exploring Kew Gardens. If anyone is on the fence about volunteering, I would definitely recommend it, not only for the benefit of working with amazing people while giving back to your community, but to gain access to all the opportunities afforded to us by Spice Time Credits.



Wendy Walters

“Most men lead lives of quiet despera-

you have no currency. Against a back-

tion and go to their graves with their

drop of such prejudice, how do you

song unsung.” Henry David Thoreau

find the courage to ‘sing your own

But how to sing a song that has no

song’? You’d have to be crazy.

value in a world hobbled by numeri-

Never in human history has there

cal quantification, where everything is

been more emphasis placed on mental

measured against an inflated stand-

illness and more willingness to ‘cure’

ard – your bank account, age, weight,

it. But what if mental illness is a sane

height, IQ. All must meet an invisible

response to an insane world? What

bar, and if you fall below the bar (or

if the pursuit of your own song is the

above in the case of weight and age)

sanest thing you can do with your life?


Summer/ Issue 38

I have depression, anxiety and a mild

a few people owning more than half

form of Asperger syndrome. My life is

the world’s wealth while billions starve.

ordered around the chaos of my imagi-

And worst of all, humanity is brain-

nation, which leads me into unknown

washed into obedience by a daily

worlds. And I follow, because I trust my

invective of death, war and disasters.

imagination more than I trust reality,

The media-induced panic proliferated

and herein lies the key to the myriad

every hour on the hour keeps human-

triggers that contract my conscious-

ity in a constant state of low-grade fear,

ness into despair, anxiety or depres-

and anyone who sings his own song is

sion. From where I sit, I think the world is


insane. I see a world addicted to drama and twisted into reactive vengeance. People never question the decisions of politicians who lead them into conflict. They never question the rightness of

“I put my heart and soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process.” Vincent Van Gogh. Vincent sang his own song, and today


we celebrate his genius. The crazy man

date one traveller at a time. The roads

is dead. And now that the progenitor

less travelled are steep and lonely but

of Irises and Starry Night is safely silent,

oh, the view.

we are free to rhapsodise over his

In the centre of our galaxy, there

legacy and romanticise his suffering.

is a black hole – a collapsed star with

But would we have lent him money for

a gravitational force so profound

paints had he come knocking? Would

it consumes everything around it –

we have spurned his rather excessive

ingesting entire galaxies for its own

love? Probably. Passionate people are

sustenance. The black hole regards

difficult to be around. They have this

its surrounding magnificence – stars,

pesky dedication to excellence that

planets, comets and light – as its due

makes the non-achiever look slack and

and raids freely. Black holes are at the

incompetent. Who needs it?

heart of almost every galaxy. They will

We do. If we are to find meaning

be their destruction. However, before

and purpose in life, we need to sing

the greedy sucker gluts the feast, we

our own song, set ourselves challenges

are treated to a stream of exuber-

that defy gravity and follow paths so

ant light that outpaces anything

narrow they can only safely accommo- known – the quasar’s light show. The


Summer/ Issue 38

by-product of rampant consumerism

bright is this by-product of consumption

is exquisite, apposite light. I posit that

that it defines the culture it outshone.

society has a black hole mentality. The

Galleries, bookshelves, walls and minds

super-rich amass more than they can

are illuminated by Art, Thought, Wisdom

consume in a lifetime and are lauded

and Love.

as high achievers, while the poor are

These are the values we acquire at

dismissed as losers. Do we feel inade-

a distance, but the progenitors suffer

quate by comparison? We’re supposed

the pangs of non-acceptance at close

to. People who do well are generally

range, crazy–mad with excitement and

regarded as successful. People who

perplexity as they follow the uncharted

own nothing and have low-paying

paths of pure imagination rather than

jobs are generally regarded as losers.

the mainstream routes trodden into ruts

Van Gogh and Mozart were both losers

by generations of followers.

by that measure. And crazy. But they

Not everyone is born with genius,

shone so brightly we still admire the light

but, rest assured, it is acquired at the

they left behind. In fact, when the dust

apex of the road less travelled, and it is

of past civilisations settles, art, music

worth the risk. Even if it is crazy.

and literature is all the light we see. So


Navigating Your Way Out of a Mental Health Crisis Charlotte Underwood

There may be a time in your life, if there hasn’t been already, when the world becomes so heavy and overwhelming that you lose control of your own independence...


Summer/ Issue 38

... Your body may start to ache and

When you feel out of control of your

feel like gravity’s pulling down weights

own mind, when suicidal thoughts

attached to your limbs. Your heart

and ideas of self-harm become all-

may feel laboured, and each breath

consuming, when you are an immedi-

can feel like swallowing something

ate risk to yourself and, on some occa-


sions, others, that is generally what is

It’s a very difficult experience to go through, because that is a part of

known as a mental health crisis. I’ve been in crisis a handful of

you that still wants to live, to get better

times before. The first time was hard,

and not let the black dog take that

because I did not understand mental

last little bit of hope away from you.

health. I’d never heard of depres-

However, when you feel so mentally

sion or suicide before, at least not out

and physically exhausted that you feel

of the movies. I remember feeling so

unable to think or move, that’s when

angry at the world and so confused

death can start to seem like the only

about who I was. I felt like I was the


unluckiest person in the world and that


the universe had a personal vendetta

squirm. On the Thursday I was due to

against me.

head to my college course, but I knew

I did not seek help when it first

I was at my limit, so I called a local

happened, mainly because I didn’t

mental health team who had seen

know that that was an option, and I

me a month previously to assess me

couldn’t bear to tell my parents and

for psychosis. I was scared, because I

risk their disappointment. Once I took

hate making phone calls, but I pushed

an overdose, and I could feel my body

myself to dial that number. I needn’t

getting cold, my head going a bit fuzzy

have worried, because I was offered so

and then falling asleep. When I woke

much support. They calmed me down

up, I was so disappointed.

and also gave my husband advice.

However, I am still here. Despite the

They then told me to come in and said

fact that my last crisis was only a few

that what I was feeling was valid. I had

months ago, I have been doing very

been through a lot and I really needed

well in myself and have been seek-

to hear that.

ing help. The truth is that recovery

I was then taken to A&E, where

will never be linear, and a crisis can

I was seen by the crisis team. They

happen to anyone at any time, so it

spoke to me about my thoughts and

doesn’t make you a failure if you feel

feelings, and we put a plan in place. I

like you are struggling.

was then kept under watch, with visits

The crisis started on a Monday. I

every other day from the team for two

noticed I was feeling very tired. Then,

weeks. By the end of these visits, I was

over the next few days, I became with-

in a calmer place, because I had been

drawn. I got angry at little things. I had

listened to, and I had an outlet.

no focus, and if my husband touched me even slightly it would make me


I will soon start therapy, which will hopefully prevent me from falling into

Summer/ Issue 38

another crisis. My head is thoroughly

I feel safe in my own skin. I have no

above water, and it’s been smooth

desire to harm myself or end my life.

sailing for a little while now, but it has

Sometimes, when we let thoughts

been hard work to keep afloat. A crisis may build up over time, or it may happen suddenly. It is so important that you learn your own signs and symptoms so that you can call for help before your life is at risk. I did this, and, though I was nervous to seek help, I am so glad I did. During a crisis, you should not overwhelm yourself. I took it very easy and focused on my recovery. I tried to rest

fester, a crisis can creep up on you, so being productive is important. You need to make sure you have no time to allow negative thoughts to manifest. I myself will clean, write and jump about on the trampoline in my living room. I am not constantly doing things, but I am doing enough to distract and change my mindset. I want to let readers know that life

my body and mind, as attending lots

is not hard, but what you are feeling

of events and making plans can cause

is valid, and the physical pain is just a

a drop in mood. During this time, it is vital to remember that it is okay to say no, that you can take time off work or education. Your life is more important than anything else. I now work hard to maintain a stable mood. I am never in a really

response to the stress. A therapist once told me that mental health is in everyone; we all just deal with it differently, and that’s important to remember. You are not a failure or a problem. Mental health can be managed, and you

good mood, but neither have I felt low

can live your life to whatever full you

for a while. I’m just sort of in a blank


state, but it is not a bad feeling, and


The Holistic Benefits of


Summer/ Issue 38



here are different ways to deal

psychologist, that assists us in navigating

with the stressors of life. One of the

through life.

oldest and most effective ways is by

The word ‘holistic’ is defined by a

talking about those stressors, which is

practice that not only addresses the

what most of us consider to be thera-

physical problem of mental illness or

peutic. Sometimes these stressors are

diagnosis but, rather, tends to look at the

caused by everyday life situations or by

individual as a whole. It takes into consid-

a deeper reason, and talking about it

eration a balance of the mind and body

always seems to work. We usually have

in order to ultimately improve wellbeing.

a person we trust when we are feeling

It is an alternative form of client treat-

down, stressed or need advice. Some

ment that can help with a range of

of us even see a mental health profes-

ailments. By looking at the individual as a

sional, such as a therapist, counsellor or

whole, many factors can be considered,


e.g. lifestyle and diet. These things can

however, therapy can become an

affect mental health. Slowly develop-

additional tool to help individuals that

ing new habits and becoming more in

are undergoing psychiatric treatment.

tune with yourself will lead to greater self-awareness. For people who struggle with

Many consider alternatives to traditional therapy, such as yoga, massage therapy and meditation. For some,

mental illness, it can be quite challeng-

these practices facilitate the release

ing to deal with everyday life stressors,

of negative energy and stress by help-

so a therapist who can help the indi-

ing individuals find newer, more natu-

vidual learn better coping skills may be

ral, ways to cope. There are also those

the best approach. For the most part,

who consider spirituality and believe

I find therapy to be quite useful in my

talking to a pastor or priest may bring

life. As I heal from my past, I embrace

about a sense of comfort.

my present and focus on my future.

Most of these practices are well-

That’s what I’ve found in therapy; it

regarded and accepted, but, in some

allows me to be more receptive to a

cases, your mental health needs might

different perspective and reinforces

require more traditional types of ther-

the positive things I have going for

apy, which is also a great option. The


main focus of therapy is to provide the

I do see how therapy on its own

client with a non-judgmental environ-

can be an effective way of dealing

ment where they can work through

with problems you may be facing.

their problems. Most types of therapy

Used in combination with medication,

have the same goal, which is to help


Summer/ Issue 38

the client see what the underlying issue is and work towards an agreed goal. The types of therapy out there vary and are recognisable by the techniques used by the mental health professional. Psychoanalytic therapy, also known as ‘talk therapy’, encourages the individual to speak about their problems without being judged. Being offered empathy by the provider allows individuals to speak freely about their feelings in a safe environment. Founded by Freud, its main goal is to help individuals see how their childhood events and unconscious feelings contribute to their mental health issues or maladaptive behaviour. The client sits on the couch, and the mental health professional begins the session by prompting the client to think of a happy or a sad moment in their childhood. They then attempt to find a connection between these memories and situ-


ations in the present, whilst helping the

together for support and encourage-

client resolve these issues through self-

ment. Most groups have guidelines to

awareness. This type of therapy is recom-

abide by. This creates a safe place

mended for long-term illnesses such as

where individuals struggling with the

mood disorders like depression and bipo-

same problems can relate to one

lar disorder. It gives the client more clarity

another. These groups are mostly organ-

and helps them deal with the everyday

ised by facilitators that usually

struggles caused by their illness, thus

have experience

encouraging better coping skills.

as clients. This

Cognitive or behavioural therapy

set-up is ideal

helps individuals target a specific behav-

for those

iour by encouraging different thought


patterns, which in turn lead to a more


realistic way of thinking and discourage

gle with

faulty or dysfunctional behaviour.


By changing their thought patterns,


clients can free themselves from issues


like phobias or anxiety. Usually, the


provider gives the client homework or

ism and

a task to work through that enables the

other mental

client to work themselves out of their

illnesses. Being


part of a group

Group therapy allows clients to come


where there is no

Summer/ Issue 38

judgement and where participants

There are many therapeutic ways in

are usually going through similar issues

which you can deal with your personal

can be quite helpful. They usually get

struggles. Just make sure the one you

together at a scheduled time, either

choose is the right one for you. Only

weekly or monthly, and relate their

you can determine which therapy can

personal experiences to each other.

help you rise above your issues and

This helps listeners feel a sense of

address them accordingly.

hope that one day they may also live healthy

I leave you with this‌

lives and that they are not going through their problems alone. It can also become a great

giving yourself time to heal. You will move forward; just know all it

way to

takes is an active and


willing participant to

ise and meet new people.

Be kind to yourself by

make therapy work in a truly holistic manner.



Be Here, Now

Barbara Smith



ardly a day passes where we do

is offered by many health centres and

not come across this term in refer-

therapeutic organisations across the

ence to its therapeutic value for a


myriad of mental health issues or as a

Broken down to its simplest form,

tool to aid spiritual growth and under-

however, it can just mean focusing on


the task at hand. How often do we

But what is mindfulness? Contrary

rush through our daily tasks and chores,

to what it implies, it actually involves

our minds racing to the next thing

the practice of emptying the mind of

before we’ve even completed what

everything, relaxing the body, focusing

we’re doing? How often do you find

solely on the sensations within (includ-

yourself on ‘autopilot’, with barely any

ing the breath) and remaining in this

memory of driving to a place? Have

meditative state long enough to regain

you ever done the shopping and then

a sense of calm and equilibrium.

realised that your mind is already on

This ancient Buddhist practice has

the next thing? Have you ever sat in

gathered much attention in the West

front of a screen where an hour has

in recent times, not least because of

passed, and you have no recollection

the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor

of what you read or watched?

of medicine and practising Buddhist,

The stresses and strains of our daily

who created the Mindfulness-Based

lives contribute to this mindless way of

Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme. It

being, and it may seem that we are


never really able to enjoy being in the

surface of each bubble…..feel how

moment nor feel happy and content

light the frothy foam is against our

to be so. In fact, this may become so

skin..…smell the fresh lemony/piney

habitual that even the things we really

fragrance of the soap…..hear the

value and are passionate about lose

bubbles popping softly on the surface

their appeal and become less enjoy-

of the water…..then, we take the cup,

able over time. We find ourselves not

carefully removing all trace of this

bothering to engage in these pastimes

morning’s coffee…..see how clean it

and begin to lose our joy and enthusi-

is? You get the picture…

asm for life. How do we regain a more moment-to-moment awareness? Let’s take a moment to become

You may wonder how spending a little extra time doing this can be beneficial, but gradually extending this

mindful in our daily routine. You know

mindfulness to ALL areas of your life,

how we all LOVE to do the washing-

and just being FULLY present in each

up? Yeah, right….. But let’s say we fill

moment, can really enhance your abil-

the sink with warm soapy water, marvel

ity to keep stress at bay. You are not

at the comforting feeling of having

allowing negative thoughts to intrude

our hands immersed in warm water-

on your focused mind, which enables

observe closely the delicate shades

you to really enjoy just being here,

of pink, blue, green and purple on the



Summer/ Issue 38

RICKY WRITES I thought I’d share with you this poem that I have seen on sympathy cards and have heard read out at funerals. I find it very comforting and moving and hope you do as well.

All is Well

Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all, I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I, and you are you, Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by my old familiar name, Speak to me in the same easy way which you always did. Put no difference into your tone, Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow, Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be the household word that it always was, Let it be spoken without effect, without the shadow of a ghost on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am just waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. If you would like to read more of Ricky’s insights on mental health, please follow the link:


You Put on That

Uniform Amy Tynan

Let’s reduce Stigma together, I promise us patients will remember it forever. It can happen to anyone. Yes, anyone. Maybe YOUR mum, Or even your son. You put on that uniform, Please don’t transform. You’re still you. The one that smiles at your child, Checks on your mum and has fun. Please, Nurse, tell me your name. You know mine. Talk to me, Help me to feel fine. I know you’re busy, but a smile doesn’t take any time. That one small thing to you, That you would have forgotten about, Is massive to me. Shall I ask for a cuppa tea? Or will they say, “I’m not free”?


Summer/ Issue 38

She looks scary, Should I be wary? She seems nice, She made eye contact. It’s such a shame, I don’t know her name. What do you see when you look at me? When you switch off the light and say, “Goodnight”. Forget the day, go home and play. I’m still left alone now you are home. That smile could have helped me by a mile. It’s a job for you but a life for me. I wish you would see the real me, Not the mask that’s taken years to grasp. See me, wave, nod or smile, Or even do them all at the same time. So please, Nurse, when you next walk past, Think how much your impressions will last.


No Added Sugar to Your


Summer/ Issue 38

Liv Johannesson


ost of us have a sweet tooth,

increased risk of developing depres-

that one thing we can’t resist.

sion and anxiety. There is also an

For my part, it’s chocolates. If you are

increased risk of recurring depres-

battling depression, you might want

sion. Habitual sugar intake has the

to work a little harder to resist those

potential to alter our brain function

sugar cravings. In an article published

and increase the risk of inflamma-

by Food Pharmacy on their blog in

tion. In 2016, Dr Malcom Preet, a Brit-

October 2017, two studies published

ish psychiatric researcher, explained

earlier that year showed a direct link

that sugar suppresses a key growth

between sugar and depression.

hormone in the brain that triggers the

One study done within the MooD-

growth of new connections between

FOOD project, sponsored by the

neurons (How excessive sugar hurts

EU to investigate the correlation

our physical and mental health,

between food and psychological

Irish Examiner). This growth hormone

diseases, shows that those who eat

is lower in people suffering from

67g of sugar per day have a 23%

depression and schizophrenia, while


the nature of these conditions often

from my diet. It’s easy enough to cut

make sufferers less mindful of what

out sweets, juices, soda drinks and

they eat. One should also bear in

cake, but once you start turning all

mind that sugar has an addiction-like

packaged food and drinks upside


down to read the ingredients list, you

The SUN study from Spain saw the

realise how common sugar really

same increased risk of depression

is. This is a problem for people with

for those that consumed more than

diabetes but also for the rest of us

60g of sugar each day. This included

who want to avoid sugar. Go ahead

hidden sugars from common edibles

and have a look at your favourite

such as ready-made meals. The

sauces, ready-meals or breakfast

NHS recommends a daily intake

cereal. Chances are that sugar is

of no more than 30g. In Britain, we

one of the first ingredients on the list;

consume twice that recommenda-

that is, sugar is one of the main ingre-

tion on average; that is to say, we

dients. When you know what you’re

are right on the borderline of putting

looking for, you can also spot all the

ourselves at risk of depression. At the

hidden sugars, e.g. dextrose, fruit

same time, depression is predicted

sugar, glucose, starch syrup, glucose

to be a leading cause of disability by

syrup, etc.

2030. You can read more about how

The good news is that the SUN

the SUN study came about in the

study saw that those who eat

Oxford University Press, International

wholemeal and carbohydrates

Journal for Epidemiology, Volume 35,

high in good quality fibres reduce

Issue 6, December 2006.

their risk of depression by 30%. To

In 2015, I started avoiding sugar,

quote nutritionist Mary Carmody

although, even before that, I went

(also mentioned in How excessive

through spells of cutting out sweets

sugar hurts our physical and mental


Summer/ Issue 38

health): “There is a tendency for people on antidepressants to crave sugar, so you have to be aware of that. I encourage people to cut out sugar and use alternatives…” Foods rich in vitamin B and high in magnesium, such as nuts and pumpkin seeds, have

KALI Barbara Smith Kali come. Kali come last night, and she take my hand, Take me to a land I don’t understand, Where my feet can’t root on the shifting sand,

been noted as mood-enhancing.

Where my eyes grow small and my ears expand.

According to the Food Pharmacy

Can’t hear the words, but I can hear the band,

article, antidepressant medicines

And nothing goes quite the way it’s planned.

are only effective in 50% of the

My ship is moored but no longer manned,

cases and can also have many

And I’m sinking…

negative side effects. So, if you are battling depression, whether long-term or temporary, you might want to start cutting out the sugar from your diet and adding more vegetables and fibres. Perhaps it’s time to, like me, become that

O, Kali, come. Kali come and free my mind tonight, Steal my darkness, bring me to the light. Show me how to stand and fight; I’m weak And filled with rampant fright.

annoying customer who turns all

I’m almost fragments...but not quite.

packages around to check what’s

My soul is ready to take flight, but

in them. Start making your dinners

The rope is long and the noose is tight,

from scratch. Why add any sugar

And I’m drinking...

to your depression.



Summer/ Issue 38



he postured like a woman, no one

is a monastery: no chatter or giggle or

was gonna deny that. Slender

clatter, no laughter let in. Why do that,

calved, waxed and shapely legs

open the windows, let them in?

beneath the pixie dress, but anxious,

So, the windows stayed shut, closed.

too, inside, she in her third-floor studio

You take that iron pot, you fill it with

art pad, musty-smelling workplace,

water, boil it up, sip it back. You do that

looking out over common trees, rustling

because water is fine and pure and

in the breeze. And knowing she’s not

God only knows you can’t go no place

quite a woman, not yet, unripe and not

without a glass or two. You ever see an

quite… fleshless down to the stone. A

animal drink water brutally? Well, work

bell-shaped roof of a school, verdigris

the clay and sip the water and all will

and lit, peeked through trees. The

be fine, you’ll see.

glittering sounds of children fell dead

A dim light cast grey silhouettes over

against the impenetrable barriers of her

the woman’s sculpture, not a cloud

wide shut windows. And there, behind

in the sky, not one… only bright blue,

her closed features, staring out into

and children’s voices, trilling in the

trees, wanting to be complete, inside,

distance, falling flat, dead, against her

some place, alive, but not quite. Not

windows. And she was in the business

yet. Mostly stone or clay but not ripe.

of making things breathe, injecting life

Not yet.

into inanimate materials, and it hurts

Why draw open those big bay

to know that works give so little back:

windows? Why do that? Let them

kind of lifeless, standing silent with never

in? Children, their songs, their singing

a word of gratitude. Silent. Dumb.

glitterings, their youthful shrills? A studio

Objects. In two thousand years, not a


single word. Or two, like, “Thank you”.

that was just coincidence… well, no,

But she went on, sold her Self, wound

not entirely, like a pair of Siamese twins,

that clock, got it ticking. Why? Because joined at the psychic hip, like a freak she’s an Artist! Don’t let go of that,

show. See the bond, don’t see the

child, or you’ll be lost in the big, bad

bond! But pay your money, because

ocean, swamped and sunk. Hold on to

this is Art, you mute spectators hear

that raft for all it’s worth; it’s all you’ve


got, you hear, all you’ve got! She thought about taking a cool

This piece is gonna rock the world. Big homage to Giaccometti,

bath, imagined her body soaking up

watershed, a divergence in style and

that cool liquid. You can sip water

approach, for she, young up-and-

through pores, did you know that? Like

coming Artist, was finally gonna be

dragons’ capillary legs, step in the stuff,


soak it up, swallow and gulp, it’s fresh

She looked again at herself in the

and fine down in the belly depths. Take

mirror. In some place, at some time, her

a bath, take a drink, but don’t touch

lazy stomach had retreated within the

the food.

cavern of its ribcage; her patterned

She pulled back a flap of clay

ribs stood out like street railings, and,

from her sculpture’s body, scraped

as she ran her fingers along the railings

beneath with a palette knife until

of her body, she half expected a

the figure’s roughly hewn shoulders

lullaby to ring out. She stroked the

decreased in size. She saw herself in

hollow of her cheeks, smudged clay

her full-length mirror, in the corner,

into her face, took a handful of clay

looking strange and distant, she and

and drew it diagonally across her

clay woman similar in height, inner

breast, finger marks from clavicle

armature measured at 5’ 7’’, though

to flattened stomach. In the mirror

no self-portrait, not that, barely any

she saw her shoulder blades pierce

resemblance in truth, and height? Well,

through stretched skin, like books falling


Summer/ Issue 38

from shelves, wiped clay across her

creation, to become so cumbrous

emaciated buttocks, feeling bone

and brutal, to live like a humungous

beneath, so angular, so pronounced.

clod of dirty food-filled earth?

She came around her sculpture’s

She threw her knife to the floor,

back, placed her hand on the figure’s

clawed away chunks of clay. First

rear, felt for protrusions. Finding none,

the arms, pared them into bony

she took her knife and carved away

branches, barely concealing

heavy curls, watching scallops of clay

armature, removed a dozen inches

fall to her feet. Her buttocks were now

or more from the greedy waist,

emulated in the work, bony backsides

clawing with hungry fingers all the

identical, and her spine, a row of

while, spun herself around the figure’s

nodules strung together in beaded

ugly clay slab of a back. Where was

necklace formation. She gripped the

the sinew, the beauty of bone, the

knife hard, carved off clay, extracting

curve and striations of dancers and

identical bone nodules from the poor

mothers and brittle old home nurses

sculpture. Breasts retreated into safe

whose bodies buckled and bent in

caverns, work to be done. She clawed

weird formations? She stripped away

her fingernails into the woman, drew

voluble slabs, pleased at the struggle.

clay from its breast, clawed deeper

This was Art, wasn’t it? Well, no matter.

and deeper and deeper into the

She scraped back shavings from the

clay fabric replica, and where the

sculpture’s cheeks until angular and

sculpture’s eyes sat blank, gouged out

sharp, thinned the neck into a dead

hollow spaces, pressed thumbs deep

branch stalk, seeing all the while

into the giving material, pressed into

nothing but perfect unrestrained

lead armature brain.

Beauty. Inner thighs too full, pulled

Her work, always grotesquely

back handfuls of the unnecessary. It

obese, fat and vulgar and unlovable;

came off gratefully, as though never

how had she allowed this woman, her

attached, just hovering over the


essentials like unwanted baggage.

result of struggles over the last months,

She ran around the figure, excited at

there to be witnessed by anyone who

where she was headed, where the

cared to look.

work was taking her. It was making

She collapsed onto her old couch,

sense. She scratched, clawed and

possessed by a singular thought: more

savaged the clay, incrementally

than anything she wanted to eat. If

reducing the entirety, thinning it down

only she could complete this work

as though it were a carcass on African

first, she would be fine. The corporate

plains, scavenged, in time-lapse. All

people would see the beauty of

pared, but not to death.

her work. Not at first, perhaps. But in

And the figure fell away, to the

time. Hail it a success. People would

floor, revealing beginnings of lead

admire her creation. Admire her. They

armature. The sculptress watched on,

would circle the plinth upon which she

feeling satiated and at ease, smiling

stood—upon which her work stood.

and exhausted. An inner peace

They would discuss their pleasure

coming over her as though she’d

at the figure’s hollowed, childlike

simultaneously purged something

innocence, see the figure was good

awful and good within, something

and thin, a thing of beauty, that the

that had to be extracted at all costs.

thinness revealed proportions worthy

And looking at herself in the mirror,

of universal admiration, not just theirs.

dark clay drew patterns across her

And she cried a little. When her

greenish, pallid skin. The bones of

tears subsided, she saw clearly that,

her knee caps stood out like stones

where she might fail or falter in life or

ratcheted into soft, fibrous tissue, her

fall away from the world, her figure,

pelvic bone hanging out of her body

her creation, her sculpture would

like a broken musical instrument; she

remain and continue. She smiled,

rubbed the instrument’s ridges feeling

knowing she would never be lost or

a smooth, porcelain beauty… the

forgotten or abandoned, never feel


Summer/ Issue 38

isolated or imprisoned. That was good. She pulled herself up off the couch

order, looking tragic all the while. She’d pawed over Giaccometti’s

and went to the fridge, wiped a cluster

women, prior to her work, found them

of drying tears from her eyes, swung

distasteful, emaciated, isolated near-

open the fridge door, an acrid smell,

death figures. Something tragic there,

drawing her back. Rotting meat, stale

as though reflections, or shadows, of

bread, furred vegetables. She saw

humans, poor humans, malnourished,

an emptiness in the space, like her

strained and tortured. And yet there

belly, as though she were staring into

was something, a refined beauty,

her own terrifying life. She turned from

something proud and regal, tall and

the fridge and let her tired, naked

willowy in amorphic state.

body collapse into the couch, pulled

She walked around her work, her

a sheet over her body, her skeletal

finger and thumb pressing buttons of

form knuckling through material in

clay into places, her knife removing

unnatural, angular shapes, dreamt

more layers, shavings of clay falling

of the completed sculpture, of how

about her naked feet, clinging to her

everything would make sense once it

skin. Day in, day out, her own image,

was finished, finally finished, not those

the image of Giaccommeti’s women

putrid in-between stages when others

and her forming female sculpture

would judge, but finally finished, hailed

remained sole points of reference. She

as a perfect thing of beauty.

enjoyed changes throughout the day;

She climbed from her sofa in pain

as light dimmed, her features dimmed,

and hunger. In her full-length mirror, she

her body dimmed, the Giaccommeti

saw her features, tired and haggard,

woman faded… a kind of vanishing in

her skin sallow in hue, her sore, red eyes

subdued light, with windows closed,

weighted with dark circles beneath.

the sound of children falling dead

She pulled her hair back from her face,

against her closed bay windows. Shut

tossed it back in some semblance of



The Sum of My Parts ‘My’, to me, was just a hole, A void, avoiding, whilst collecting rot and mould, Soiled stress ball, a free-for-all, for you to shape and mould. I eclipsed my own sun. “You’re just a piece of fun” was let in by the cold. Then inner walls fall, veils slide, my abandoned thresholds, Where lost parts hide, truths remain untold. Dictating inane rules inside, and still my life unfolds. I learned the sum of my parts were more and less than ‘my’ whole. The black room, calling out, “I want Mummy.” I thought it was the true nature of ‘me’, My painful emotions, innately bad and naughty, That same rot deepening, Blackened roots became intestinal intentions of a once pink tummy. I thought I was a toy, my sleeves all bit and scummy. One part decided, “Just be funny.” Another ‘branded herself’ consumable, thought she was so yummy, Out with innocence, her world became un-sunny. Parts want to dodge me yet try to be seen. My hand writes automatically, “Why don’t you care about me?” A scribe from my set-to-self-destruct, toxic inner family. The parts would flirt, Get me hurt, All to protect the heart, That most dangerous part.


Summer/ Issue 38


Some parts don’t want to be seen, Pulled out of the cupboard, they still kick and scream. Others intent on treating me mean, Teasing those hell-bent on keeping things clean. I’ll return this offer of love, please, in exchange for the obscene. Serene, Drama Queen, Prune and preen, Envy and green, Lost in a dream, Then work … and work … and work ... Until I’m diseased and left fleeing. The mirror changed, then and now, from haggard through to lean. Unsweet sixteen waves out at me, amongst my faces daily seen. Some didn’t mean to show up and be seen, In therapy, that profound scene, of outer body, can’t now be unseen. Clearing up the mess, Has created more confusion and stress, Free-falling into my own abyss, Whilst waiting for the NHS. In digging, I become more of less and less of less, I say, “No” then “Yes” then “No” then “Yes,” Until I’m frozen in my room, in my atrophying-ness. I feel certain in this poem … though, in therapy, something’s still… amiss. But, according to psychology… it’s me that I actually miss.


And so, my parts are still at war, Push, pull, shun me to my core. “My core, core, core, blah, core,” Just being understood, connecting body, mind and mouth, The excruciating chore, She always stops me being seen, even by me, The girl in her own war still sets the scene. And she’s the most frustrating part; I befriended the bully from my inner playground, She was trouble from the start, always sullying my name, To keep me safe and sound. To her, my mouth is just a game, She’s lost on me and everybody now, so now I can’t be found. In her, and them, I’m almost drowned. No matter how hard I blow the whistle, parts scatter out… for different things, Fighting myself for a makeshift life ring, Against the flood, I’m heaving air, Into deflated water wings. Again, I wheeze into the whistle, I am only just afloat. My lungs taped up, now plastic and gristle, The key to the kingdom, long lost in the moat. Never swimming, My head is sinking, Growing thistles in an inflatable boat. My parts are … not… … winning? I just can’t stop them thinking. I always was, and still am, the joke.


Summer/ Issue 38


Equilibrium Magazine for Wellbeing, Issue 65  

Hello, readers, and welcome to the spring issue of Equilibrium Magazine. It is both incredible and strange to think that we are nearly halfw...

Equilibrium Magazine for Wellbeing, Issue 65  

Hello, readers, and welcome to the spring issue of Equilibrium Magazine. It is both incredible and strange to think that we are nearly halfw...