So, one of the reasons we heard about you is that you had read one of your poems at a Recovery College graduation last year and everybody was talking about it. They still are now! So I just thought we could talk a little bit about that. How long have you been writing and performing poetry?
Just over a year. So I started last April because my grandma passed away last January. She was my cornerstone, very accepting, nurturing and always willing to fight my corner. She was kind of a safety blanket. So when she passed away, I knew that I needed to get these feelings out in some way because it was going to be detrimental to my mental health if I was to keep it all inside. I decided to write just to express some of my feelings, and then the Poetry Festival came to Nottingham and I thought “If I’m writing it, I kind of want to listen to other people’s poetry – to find out what it’s all about.” So I went to an event and the organiser came to me and just said “Are you a poet? Do you want to get onstage?” I’d just started writing at the beginning of the week - one about anxiety and one on something else, but I got really anxious.
I would be!
I said “ask me in the break” because as much as I wanted to say no, I thought that if I go home and I have had this opportunity and I haven’t read it out I’m going to be kicking myself . So she came again in the break and she asked me and I just thought “Go for it! You’re scared, you feel anxious, but just do it anyway.” Do you know what I mean? So I got onstage and literally I was shaking and sweating and the lights were so bright! But I did it. I got off, and someone came to me and said “I really loved the poem that you did about anxiety. It really helped to know that I’m not alone.” And it was that that kind of inspired me to let people know that they aren’t alone in what they’re going through and I think that has been the most important thing in keeping me going, is just letting people know that you’re not the only one that suffers with these things and it can feel different to the way people explain it normally.
That’s a great story! Thank you. You’ve already mentioned a bit about how you’ve been inspired to write – are there any specific subjects that you feel are particularly inspirational?
To be honest with you, most of the poetry is about mental health. I like to speak about how it feels. People just say anxiety or depression, but they are umbrella words, or umbrella terms. So no one really goes into “It made me feel like this,” or “I couldn’t do that,” or “It affected my relationship with this,” so I like to explore lots of different avenues basically, just to get over those barriers. I would say a lot of the time I like to focus on what it feels like or what your brain is telling you. At the same time inspiration also comes from knowing that regardless of what I think or feel of myself there’s also a truth to who I am. That I’m not necessarily what I think of myself if that makes sense?
That makes perfect sense! I think for someone on their recovery journey, it’s quite hard to have an objective judgement of themselves. People can judge themselves quite harshly. So it’s great that you’ve managed to find a creative outlet to think about this differently.
So since you’ve graduated from the college is there anything in particular that you’ve been up to?
I’ve been doing a lot of shows -so I’ve had my first headline show- and I’ve been on BBC Radio Nottingham and Notts TV. I just went to Leamington Spa a couple of weeks ago to do my first headline set over there. I hosted a ‘Validate Your Voice’ workshop at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham. I’ve done a mental health first aid course. I’m happy to be invited to read my poetry and talk about my Recovery College experience at a Graduation Day. I’m still having counselling as well as a few other things that I’m working on at the moment.
You are a busy person! That’s impressive, and really it’s all come around from that moment when you said to yourself “I’m going to take the stage.”
And that’s why I share my story to people who want to listen because my motto is “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.” I think that it’s important to acknowledge our feelings but to also remember that that is all they are.
You’re a real inspiration.
So do you have any future plans for your poetry?
People keep saying “get published” and I have been published in a book, but at the moment I’m focusing on making my poems easily accessible and convenient so I do laminated sheets of my poetry. You can put it around your house somewhere and it looks a bit decorative. Something on the wall helps you to remember I guess. Also I’m really passionate about – although I’m not sure how yet -but I know that I want to help young people to express their voice, to help them normalise their feelings, because I think that that is a really big part of self-expression.
That’s fantastic. Thank you so much for agreeing to take part in an interview for the Nottingham Recovery College blog.
Check out part 1 of our interview with Ravelle-Sadé, where we discussed her experiences at the Nottingham Recovery College and what she found helpful in her recovery journey.
We are keen to showcase our students’ recovery journeys. If you are a former student of the Nottingham Recovery College and would like to be interviewed for our blog, please get in touch with us either through the College admin team or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Nottingham Recovery College courses are only available to people who are under secondary mental health care in Nottinghamshire, their supporters and staff members of Nottinghamshire NHS Trust. If you are unsure about our eligibility criteria please contact us.
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