World Mental Health Day – poetry by Dolly Sen

The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day (WMHD) on 10 October every year as an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilise efforts in support of mental health.

Dolly Sen is an Outside In artist who works across visual art, writing, film-making and performance. To mark World Mental Health Day, we asked Dolly to share a couple of her poems that explore the theme of mental health.



Finally you prescribe me stars
Not shame, nor loss of soul as side effect

You prescribe me holding my head up high
To find my soul again.

It is easier to see under a light.

Finally the universe is open to me
Where I can fly, standing still.

Because I have my stars.



Dignity cannot be taken 4 times a day

Being labelled, pathologised and medicated,
I cannot claim my mind for myself
I cannot claim my life for myself
So how can I even have dignity?

Medicine does not heal
But seals the scream
Is that dignity?

Dignity are never in the side effects.
Weight gain – my arse is getting bigger than my dreams.
Too tired to reach for the day, let alone the sun.
Try having sex without coming – dignity?

Love with a lot of going – dignity?
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, but try it with a largactil shuffle.
Constipation does not feel like dignity
How can I sing the song of dignity, drooling?

I would walk away with my head held high, but am too tired, too alone, too despised.
But let’s put aside the pills for a moment.
Is dignity in the waiting room?
Is it in the set of eyes that sees you as a sickness?

How much does dignity cost exactly? It’s not in our budget this year. It’s not in the economic case.
Dignity is not in the control and restraint, face down, begging to breath.
It was not in the staggered silence of my ‘community care’.
It is not in the ‘burden of care’ phrase.
I am still waiting for my appointment with dignity.

Dignity means not begging for my identity, my dreams, it means not begging to be heard, to be cared for.
Dignity means honouring the person, but not being hated will do.
Dignity cannot be taken 4 times a day.

And shouldn’t be bitter pills to swallow…


You can find out more about Dolly Sen by visiting her online gallery.

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