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Positive Season: Lose to Gain – Creative Writing as Recovery

Tuesday 13 August 2013

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Words Spindle

I was 21 years old when I suffered a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage. I woke up after ten days in hospital with no recollection of the incident. I hadn’t eaten, walked, talked, or opened my eyes for ten days. I hadn’t written, I hadn’t read and I hadn’t listened to anything that I could recall. Fortunately I was able to write. I began writing two days after I woke up and poetry became my coping mechanism.  

The words of the poem Oxford literally poured out of me without any real conscious effort. After writing it I lay looking out of the window over the hospital allotments as a solitary tear rolled down my face. Unable to decode whether it dropped for sorrow or for joy I was suddenly aware of its symbolism for the entire scenario I now found my life in. When I tried to reason the situation I found little logic, and much guilt for having tried to – embodying the classic survivor’s guilt. However, all this evaporated when I held a pen.

Time, space and wonder, every mind at once will now ponder.
A frozen toe, nose and under, how curious that spring wakes from such a slumber.

I found an avenue to articulate my feelings, a way to express the words I could not bring myself to speak. Whilst searching for meaning out of the episode I took up meditation in a bid to allow in a space for reflective Art. This was echoed in what I believe is a crucial part of my recovery – the discovery and love I know have for classical music. Previously I was made impatient by its lack of words; now I realise they were there all along but I was unequipped to read them. Truly, Art in all its forms became a release, a way to deal with my emotions. Whether through my hands on clay and charcoal, through two fingers grasping a solitary pen, my eyes reading, or my ears and the splendour of Bach, Beethoven or Einaudi. Art brought me companionship along the left fork in the road which I now found myself walking.


I am able to look back at that fork now five years on. I feel directed from that period in my life where I gained the impetus to both complete and further my degree to postgraduate level. I see Art as crucial to that journey allowing me to stop and reflect on what matters in both Life and my role within that. I am now a couple of years into a career as a Youth and Community Worker where I am able to use the benefits I’ve learnt from Art to facilitate others in recognising the space they need to reflect.


Words: Alicia McMorrow
Illustration: Molly Walsh