Photo: Guy sits at a kitchen table looking to camera

My verses with MS

Poetry will do nothing for your MS. But it may do something for your mind; how to measure the mental positivity of that?

Getting diagnosed with MS

When I was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS in October 2014 my mind went into meltdown. I would never work in an office again. I didn't resonate with my local MS support systems. I was spending all day and all evening in my house on my own.

With the shame of falling over in public or being refused service in a pub (three times), people commenting on my sticks, my DMT of choice was alcohol.

Therapy through verse

A friend from my writing group suggested I speak to the local uni, fortunately 200m from my front door. I don't have a degree. Apply for a Masters in poetry, they'll take you on the back of your poetry. I'd been writing poetry all my life off and on, mostly long periods of off.

In 2011 a switch clicked. I fell in love, I guess. The words started to flow, the mental space became full time. I've always written, I've written five novels, a cookery book, an autobarkography of my dog and I. But this was different.

There's some baggage to the word 'poetry', but it's everywhere. Pure poetry, poetry in motion, poetic justice. Nationwide TV ads. Poetry can get under your skin, take you to a different place and quickly in a way other forms of literature can't. A young man who can't say 'I love you' to his girlfriend can say it in a poem. And poetry can heal.

Conjuring pictures with words

The skill in poetry is manipulation of metaphor and imagery and these are techniques we can use inside our own heads.

I can use the flicking of a light switch in many ways in a poem, to 'represent' many things, yet I can also use the visualisation of a dimmer switch to turn down the high frequency brain noise when I can't sleep at night. The imagery of an elevator to lower the active parts of my brain to move its focus down through the layers.

I don't write, I don't breath, live, poetry for a reason. I know no other way, it's a part of me. It helps me carry life's burdens. It's part of my soul.

A sonnet about MS

The match scratches with the gestalt crack of science.
As its sulphurous spark captures then clutches
the darkened room, it fills the space with fulfilling
light. I lower the stick's head to the spinal cord of the candle;
the wick flickers as it catches fire across the ether
the radius of warmth at limited war with the wax.
In the destruction, a faint essence perfumes the air
its sweetness gliding over the quiet trace of lying vapour.
Aye. “Let there be light.” For a multitude of dawns
can come with but the brothers of that match. The sensitivity
of the glow excludes the darkest hours, pulls you
into a place where Plato's cave is appeasing. The shadows
are friends. I snuff match and night with a puff to extinguish light,
hope can be put away to be drawn on again, maybe tomorrow.

Do you have a story about how creativity helps you? We'd love to hear from you. Email us at webteam@mssociety.org.uk.