Hi all 🙂 I’m back to share another poem with you in preparation for the launch of The Poetry of Autism: Eyes of Perspective (a hand bound book of poems by three writers on the autism spectrum). This poem was written by me, Gwen Greenwood, and is called “Thank You”. It’s about learning to rely on others for help and support, and how this can sometimes result in low self esteem or guilt.
The words stick in my throat
Like cloyingly sweet honey,
Filling my mouth and nose till I choke.
My treasure cat smile
Is a sickle, its curved blade
Severing the flesh of both cheeks.
I shall accomplish one small task
Without any help from others.
Then there will be no need for
I had mixed feelings about posting this poem, because it’s quite negative. However, I do think it’s important that we understand how easy it is for those of us with disabilities and/or mental health issues to experience guilt and self loathing simply because we sometimes need help. This has become more relevant in the current climate where anybody on benefits is labelled a ‘lazy sponger’ and David Cameron hacks away at the amount of support available for people with long term illnesses and disabilities, all while claiming disabled people need to be more ‘adaptable’. Nobody should feel guilty for being different, or for requiring additional support. The truth is we all need help sometimes, regardless of whether or not we’ve been diagnosed with a disability. I think the difficulty with autism is it’s a completely invisible condition. If I were in a wheelchair I don’t think I’d feel guilty about needing help with mobility because the chair itself would act as a constant reminder that I need this help because my body is physically different- something beyond my control. However, with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome there is no visible reminder that I need help with certain areas because my brain is physically different. The physical aspects of my brain are beyond my control. But in the past I’ve forgotten that, I’ve resented the support I receive and felt sick every time I said ‘Thank you’ because that word just felt like a reminder that I was somehow inferior to everyone else.
I’m not inferior. I’m just different, and that’s not my fault. Sometimes I need help, and that’s not my fault. I should feel grateful for the support I receive, but I shouldn’t feel guilty. If you want to read a more positive poem about accepting help and support, I suggest “Alone” by Maya Angelou. With the refrain ‘nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone’ this poem reminds us that the need for help and support is just human. Nobody can manage on their own, and nobody should be expected to. You can read the full poem here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/alone-6/
I’ll see you on Monday with another poem from Eyes of Perspective. In the mean time, remember that guilt and self loathing are toxic emotions.