During the pandemic, poetry became a method of communicating feelings. When you don’t have the words to say what you’re going through, it always seems like you can find someone who knows how to say it, and far better than you ever can. If you’re feeling anxious or heartbroken, look no further than Blake Auden’s work. For 2 years, he has been sharing his work on a daily basis Instagram with its 142,000 followers. He has also written two collections of poetry, his most recent, Beekeeper, focuses on love, friendship, loss and sanity. The title, he explains, describes it well.
He said: “Someone once told me that my head was a colony of bees …[and I thought] Guess that makes me a beekeeper, then, trying to deal with all these anxious thoughts.
But, dealing with the anxiety out loud was not always something he was able to do. Like many men, especially those who grew up in military homes, Blake grew up prescribing the attitude that you have to ‘persevere’ and things like crying or worrying are not things that a man does. do. He also felt he needed to hide his emotions in order to protect others, especially his parents, from worry and self-blame. He talks about it in a poem and writes: “I learned to gently break / grab the pieces of me before they hit the ground / so that the people I love will believe me when I smile and say I am fine. In other words, he felt that even though he was falling apart, he needed to catch up with the pieces so that no one would hear them breaking and no one would notice. He often managed alone and in silence.
However, he learned that it was not possible to avoid or ignore the anxiety and it worsened to the point of taking over his life. He stopped playing music, stopped seeing friends, and reached a point where if anything could make him anxious he stopped doing it for fear of having a panic attack or being anxious. on this subject. About 2.5 years ago, he hardly ever left the house, which in hindsight, he says, actually made matters worse.
One day it hit its tipping point. He had a panic attack and missed being able to visit his best friend since he was three and he had already missed his wedding for the same reason. After that he decided he was never going not being anxious so he needed to face it. He reframed his anxiety like a wolf, which he is now characterized as in any of his poems. He explains the metaphor as follows: “The anxiety is always there, even when you are not anxious… It is there… right in the trees, just behind the tree line where it is dark. And, I’ve always thought of it as something that stalks and hides and stalks and takes the opportunity to attack you when you’re vulnerable and it all felt like a wolf to me. Instead of running away from the wolf, he made the decision to accept it (the anxiety) as part of him and learn to deal with it. He even got a wolf tattoo on his hand to remind him not to run away from difficult situations. He feels that since adjusting this attitude, although he still suffers from panic and anxiety, he is overall much better. He was also much more comfortable talking openly about his mental health with others without shame.
He attributes some of this comfort to initially speaking about his anxiety in the safe space of therapy. He thinks the therapy, which he went to for 18 months, was where he learned it was okay to talk about his mental health, and that he wouldn’t be judged for it, or that people did. character guesses on this basis. He notes: “It made me feel that in fact, it might not be as unusual a thing as I thought and maybe I’m not the only one feeling it. And I think that put me on the path to being more comfortable talking about it.
Now, through his poetry, Blake speaks openly about his experiences and pain with anyone who reads it. This is particularly poignant given that it is November and Mental Health and suicide prevention is highlighted as one of the three causes of men’s health in the Moving house movement. Blake adds, “I don’t think it affects my masculinity to say, you know what? I burst into tears at the supermarket before. I’d rather not do that, but it does happen and I have no problem admitting it. I suffer from anxiety, I suffer from panic attacks, and these are things we all have to go through and there is nothing anti-masculine about it.
While in some ways it may seem like the writing can seem cathartic or help process one’s emotions, Blake says the writing process is actually quite emotionally difficult and even overwhelming. He notes: “You engage in emotions that I would probably have traditionally buried for many years. I now force myself to watch [them] again and tackle them, which you know can be beneficial in the long run … It’s hard to do while I’m doing it, but I’m glad I did after.
Blake recognizes, however, that much of the benefit of poetry to him comes from sharing it and knowing that he is helping others with his words. He describes enjoying seeing how people on Instagram engage with and interpret his poetry. Many tell her that it helps them feel like they’re not alone or to express what they are feeling. Reader feedback even helped Blake normalize his own experiences and make them feel more acceptable.
As someone who explains that their biggest fear is being forgotten or living a life without impact, purpose or meaning, it helps Blake know that his words could be his goal. It helps her think that her suffering, pain, and most difficult experiences could make sense. It also helps him feel that he may be going through it all, or that he has been through it all, for a reason.
And, that reason is to help others cope. To give them hope or validation of their feelings, and let them know that they are not alone, especially at this time when we all need them so badly. He adds, “Now when I have a bad day I think maybe what I’m going through will turn into a poem next week that will really help someone who is in a lot more pain than me. In which case, it’s worth it.