Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway has been writing, self-publishing, and performing since 2008. I think it would be fair to say he’s steeped himself in creativity since then. He performs live and contributes to a wide variety of creative which share the commonality of being unusual, challenging, groundbreaking and inspirational! You can find out more about him at his personal site and at the cynical self publisher blog.  Dan is a member of the Authors Electric online Collective (as well as having a virtual finger in a lot of very creative virtual pies!) He’s a dedicated advocate for creativity and mental health issues.

Don’t Make Assumptions About Mental Health

 

Just because I sometimes need help, don’t assume I don’t have a lot to offer

In 2000, I was too frightened of the world to open my post or answer my phone for 6 months, racking up massive bank charges and getting my phone line cut off as a result. But the same year, I won the World Intelligence Championships.

Some days, it is so hard to move my legs I have to get up over an hour early just to get out of the front door. But I competed for my university athletics team and have attained a national level of achievement at indoor rowing.

Put me in a party or a restaurant and I will be so overwhelmed that I will have to make for the nearest corner or door in order to avoid a crippling panic attack. But I have won poetry slams and TV game shows in front of large, live audiences, host an acclaimed spoken word show and happily deliver presentations to international conferences.

There are days when I find it physically impossible to choose a flavour of soup at the supermarket. But I got one of the highest firsts in my year at university and one of the highest marks in the year in my Masters, and competed internationally over three years for the Great Britain juniors bridge team.

Think of all those business people society admires because they work so hard, putting in hundred hour weeks of high stress work. That gives you something of an idea of the effort I have to put in just to get out of bed, get dressed reasonably presentably and *be* at the office. But I still manage to achieve at least the output of a full day’s work.

I manage to achieve at least the output of a full day’s work. But think of all those business people society admires because they work so hard, putting in hundred hour weeks of high stress work. That gives you something of an idea of the effort I have to put in just to get out of bed, get dressed reasonably presentably and *be* at the office.

I got one of the highest firsts in my year at university and one of the highest marks in the year in my Masters, and competed internationally over three years for the Great Britain juniors bridge team. But there are days when I find it physically impossible to choose a flavour of soup at the supermarket.

I have won poetry slams and TV game shows in front of large, live audiences, host an acclaimed spoken word show and happily deliver presentations to international conferences. But put me in a party or a restaurant and I will be so overwhelmed that I will have to make for the nearest corner or door in order to avoid a crippling panic attack.

I competed for my university athletics team and have attained a national level of achievement at indoor rowing. But some days, it is so hard to move my legs I have to get up over an hour early just to get out of the front door.

In 2000, I won the World Intelligence Championships. But the same year, I was too frightened of the world to open my post or answer my phone for 6 months, racking up massive bank charges and getting my phone line cut off as a result.

Just because I have a lot to offer, don’t assume I don’t sometimes need help

(Originally posted on  Dan’s personal website)

Mentalist

This is the most straightforwardly political piece I’ve written, a direct response to the government’s Workfare scheme and its impact on those with mental health difficulties.


(This video was recorded at this year’s final of the Hammer and Tongue Poetry Slam in Oxford.)

Mentalist

I’m a mentalist.
I’m a ventriloquist and this fake smile’s my dummy.
Behind the guile I know I’m scum,
I’m hungry, desperate for your crumbs,
I’m broken by the years that no one spoke for me,
I’m choked beneath society’s conceptual thumb.

The thing is, if I’m cheerful
You think I’m well enough to work for free
And if I’m not then you’re unreasonably fearful of me.
The last boss I told I was bipolar said OK, but please don’t stick a knife in me
While I sat there silent, stunned
Thinking you think I’M the violent one
Just because I have an illness
That the media exploits for thrills
Because they haven’t got the skills to see beyond the pills
That someone else’s taxes paid for,
Someone wealthy for no other reason than that they happened to be born healthy.
But their hard work must not be squandered
On dropouts and shirkers,
On the berserkers lurking in the social undergrowth.

So now the government can force us into slavery
Without protection from the rules that gave us dignity
Or made staying alive in the cold and hostile environment a workplace can be
Anything close to a possibility.
With every decency they steal
They feel their backs slapped
By the so-called cash-strapped hacks in suits
Whose stacks are packed so tight
No cracks of light
Can leak out and disturb their sleep
With the sight of the smacked-up jacked-up cracked-up lives
Of those whose dice fell on the wrong side of the tracks

And all this is sold as a triumph of slashed bureaucracy
A victory for democracy,
For a people poisoned
By years of drip-fed filth
And casual hypocrisy,
By myths of laziness and hazy memes of craziness
Dreamed up on whims on days of bliss and Pimms.

And here’s the thing.
People will comply.
People will try.
They will try so much
No matter that it takes an act of heroism just to get out of bed,
No matter that their eyes are red
Because they cried so much
And kept on trying
And held their heads high so much
Their tears were washed away by the saliva from the bile
That people piled on them.
People will die
Their voices will fall silent
The iniquity will not be heard.
Their indignity will have the final word,
But still those who are left will smile in the face of tyrants
Still they will cling with grace to the ideal of non-violence.

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