Tom Glover has suffered from mental health problems from a young age, but discovering a passion for poetry has given meaning to his life.
EMMA DUNN reports SITTING in a hospital for mental health patients, Tom Glover felt like he had lost everything.
Tom, who was 17 at the time, had suffered from mental health issues since he was 11 years old.
He had been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety when he was 15, and a few years later he was sectioned and sent to hospital.
“I felt like I had lost everything. I lost my flat, I lost my girlfriend at the time, I lost my freedom and I had lost myself,” he said.
“I was a wreck and I was deemed too unwell to be safe to myself or others, which is why I was admitted to hospital.”
Tom started becoming more introverted at the age of 11, when family life started getting him down. His parents had divorced when he was seven.
“I was bottling everything up and I wasn’t able to talk to anyone for years,” he said.
“When I was 15, I started getting really depressed. I was sad about the situation at home and, as time went by, and with everything building up, I became more introverted and angry.
“I was diagnosed with severe depressions and anxiety, which was like a double-edged sword. If you don’t have a diagnosis you’re wondering what is wrong with you. If you do have a diagnosis you refer back to it as if it is an excuse.
“It wasn’t something that was just invisible. The diagnosis was firm and concrete.”
Tom took an overdose the week before his 16th birthday and was admitted to an adolescent unit for mental health patients at Marlborough House just after his birthday.
“It was my first suicide attempt. It was an impulsive thing,” he said.
“When you get so used to experiencing a feeling, you just become complacent. You think it’s just not worth doing anything about.
“You don’t think you can change it and you don’t have any confidence in your ability to change.”
About six months after he left the adolescent unit, Tom’s symptoms started getting worse again and he started self harming as a coping mechanism.
“I stopped taking my medication because I didn’t feel it was working. I didn’t feel I was being listened to either,” he said.
Tom was sectioned at the age of 17, and was admitted to a low secure hospital in Woking, at which point he felt he had lost everything.
He became disruptive and was transferred to a medium secure hospital in Stevenage.
“I was lost in every sense of the word. While I was in Stevenage, I started working with the service and I was getting better. I felt different and I started getting home leave,” he said.
“But then I started self-harming again when my ex-girlfriend and I tried to give things another go. There were issues in the relationship and I had two episodes of self harm.”
Tom was sent to various mental health care institutions, before he went to Fromeside in Bristol for two years, where he started making progress again.
He was also diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
“Fromeside is a fantastic unit. That was when I first started to properly sort myself out,” he said.
“I didn’t want to just waste my life. When I went to Stevenage my nephew was born and that changed me. It was something to live for.
“Now I don’t live for myself because I don’t think enough of myself, but I live for my family and the good relationships I have.
“When I was in Fromeside, my niece was born. All that time, especially when I was in Fromeside, my relationships with my family got much better too.
“All that gave me a reason to get out.”
Tom, who is now 22, spent a year living in another facility in Swindon, but has been living independently in Old Town for the past three months.
He has just released his own anthology, Love’s Gutter, which contains a selection of poems that he started writing from the age of 15.
Having crafted more than 450 poems, he approached the Stepping Out Theatre, who offered to help him get his work published. Love’s Gutter was officially released last month by Berforts Group Ltd and is now available on Amazon.
“I just find something really moving in the written word,” he said.
“It is amazing being able to get thoughts from your head down on paper. It’s all about interpretation. I can write all my poems with something in mind, and someone else might read it with a different view on why I wrote it.
“I always had faith in my writing and strived toward that goal. I’m proud to have had the privilege of being published.
“I don’t think my work would be as emotionally charged if I had not gone through certain events in life. They shaped me.
“If you want to excel in something then you have to go for it and get the help you need when you need it.
“I am not 100 per cent and I will never be, but just because someone labels you with a mental health problem, it does not mean that you should sit back, accept it and not go for the things you want to achieve.
“I just want to keep out of hospital and stay on track now. My writing is my outlet.”
Tom thanked his friends and family for their support, particularly his girlfriend Cassie and his niece and nephew, Rhys and Maisie.
Love’s Gutter by Thomas Glover, Berforts Group Ltd, £7.99, is available on Amazon.
Praise for Love’s Gutter
Luke Wright, award-winning performance poet and broadcaster, said:
“Poems with punch and verve that linger
behind the eyes for hours.”
Abegail Morley, award-winning poet and editor, said: “This is brave and startling writing.
Thomas Glover is not afraid to tell it how it is.”
George Szirtes, award-winning poet and writer, winner of TS Eliot prize 2005, said:
“Suffering is shapeless and endless when we are in it. Once, however briefly, out of it, we look to give it shape and meaning if only to map where we have been and might be again. Thomas Glover’s poems are confessional in the sense that they speak out of direct personal experience, but they are not confessions.”