Poet to Read: Yrsa Daley-Ward
We can’t get enough of poet, model, memoirist, and general life inspiration Yrsa Daley-Ward. Her honest poetry and transparency on social media motivate us to fearlessly share our struggles and true identities with the people in our lives. And today, on #WorldMentalHealthDay, her poems are just what we needed.
Yrsa offers rare authenticity in a time of ceaseless self-promotion and picture-perfect, photoshopped images in the media. She removes the veneer of perfection created by the online version of ourselves in her writing about her struggle with depression and substance abuse and her desire for all-consuming love. She advocates for therapy and for treating ourselves with gentle kindness.
A few months back, she posted this reflection on Instagram: “I understand the same things – hope, fear, love, hopelessness, grief, excitement (to name just a few!) Putting words to these feelings simply acts as a bridge, which can really help someone else in the world feel less alone. If you have something you need to make, write, say…why not try it today?”
View this post on Instagram
Me at home by the lovely @mcgregorphoto ✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨ People ask me a lot about truth-telling, and its place in what we write…if I feel nervous or afraid to say what it is I have to say or to talk about things that have happened. The day everything began to get clearer for me is the day I realised that writing about myself was not so much about myself at all…but about ‘us.’ The collective. We all experience different things and we all experience the same things. There are no new emotions, and, mostly and within reason, we all understand the same things – hope, fear, love, hopelessness, grief, excitement (to name just a few!) Putting words to these feelings simply acts as a bridge, which can really help someone else in the world feel less alone. If you have something you need to make, write, say… why not try it today?
Yrsa invites us to leave it all on the table (if that’s what we need) and express ourselves in ways that make us feel connected to others.
Her poem “Mental Health” normalizes despair, but urges her readers to take small actions to feel hopeful.
“If you did not get up for work today
If it has been afternoon for hours
And the silence is keeping you awake.
If you only remember how to draw your breath
in and out like waves of thick tar cooling
If you are wishing it later,
pulling the sun down with your prayers, leave the damn bed.
Wash the damn walls. Crack open a window even in the rain, even in the snow.
Listen to the church bells outside.”
We love that she reminds us to reframe our struggles and that it’s possible to turn negative experiences into positive possibility.
Thank you Yrsa for encouraging and creating a space for candid vulnerability!
Listen to Yrsa Daley-Ward read “Mental Health” 🎧