Fan the flames of love

We are Phoenix we rise above

we fly high against the backdrop

Of a twilight sky

And leave you dead and cold.

Let your sallow soul grow old amongst the bones of those who told

The shallow lie you heard amongst my teardrops.


Crystal clear

No malice here

I grace the air with wings of gold.

My heart unfolds with truth and beauty, pure love and loyalty

I am Phoenix.

I rise above.


©Alison Jean Hankinson.

Image creative commons free to use from pixabay.

Voices of Whittingham….Past lives in an Asylum.

This is again for mental health awareness week. I spent some time today at the archives in Preston. I am currently participating in a local history/arts/creative writing/mental health project. It is based around the Whittingham Asylum at Preston and it aims to give a voice to the lives and stories that played out there. It was a very large Asylum and Preston was very proud of it, there were about 500 staff and often as many as 3000 inpatients.

Whittingham Lives Project.

I have learned a lot in such a few sessions and certainly had some of my own assumptions challenged. The Asylum opened in 1873 and had patients sent there from all over the north-west of England, many of the other Asylums, workhouses, almshouses were already bursting at the seams. It was regarded as a model Asylum and postcards of its external facade were sold as memorabilia. There were extensive gardens where fruit and vegetables were grown and it even had its own orchestra. Underneath this facade still lurked the very real horrors of Victorian poverty and the mental health of a scarred nation. End-stage syphilis was one of the significant causes of the mental and psychotic decline that resulted in many people spending their end of days in the Asylum and in the period of World War 1, both shell-shock and a form of hydrocephalus resulting from the Spanish flu were  responsible for increased demand for spaces and places within the Asylum. The superintendent’s journal from 1873-95 was stark to begin with detailing the very worst events including the frequent dismissals of staff for what can only be described as physical abuse of the inpatients and the frequent outbreaks of scarlatina, diarrhoea and typhoid, whilst rules and regulations resulted in greater detail in later entries, including the deaths from misadventure, poor health and at their own hand.

The Asylum had its own cemetery. People came and went though, it wasn’t always the end of the road and when the photographer that came to capture the newly admitted, those well enough would ask to have images taken to show they were well and recovered to send to their loved ones with the plea to come and take them away.

Today we were considering restraint, emotional, physical and chemical.

I wrote this for Charlotte.


In Chains

Into the light, beyond the bands that bind me tight,

Into the dawn, beneath the hands that hold me down,

Into the sunlight, the stench of starch and sulphur stings my eyes

Into the madness, my muddled mind festers in fetid fettered manacles.

Deliver me.

© Alison Jean Hankinson






Mental health Awareness Week 2018- Procrastination

Thirty-three things to do

Each one causing stress

If only I could get off my butt

Step up and procrastinate less.


© Alison Jean Hankinson

Procrastination- the action of delaying or postponing something usually related to depression, anxiety or psychological distress.

Just one moment…

It is Mental Health Awareness week Mon 14th onwards in the UK and I wanted to take a moment to focus on the moment.


each moment is distinct

it may or may not relate to the preceding moment

it may or may not be followed by a moment of equal or even greater magnitude

it is what it is- a moment.


It will pass

It will be superseded

It will be vanquished, resurrected, redefined, it will shine redolent as the star in its own story

And then be gone….to make way for the next moment.

Always remember this.

It is a moment.

It will pass.


© Alison Jean Hankinson




The day we fell….

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,

We remember them each and everyone, every year, it is our duty

We solemnly speak their names, we treasure their memories in our hallowed halls

We honour their fate on memorials and museum walls.


Kick back, flashlight, night flare

We are back there

I do solemnly swear to bring honour and bear witness

To my country but he is missing in action.

tap tap….clack clack…. frack frack

I scour the wall of missing people.


©Alison Jean Hankinson


First line taken from For the Fallen- by Laurence Binyon. Last line taken from “Leaving time” Jodi Picoult. For Bridging the Gap at d’Verse.


Identifying stressors in our lives.

In the US mental health awareness month has been celebrated in May since 1949, and here in the UK we have our Mental Health Awareness week this next week May 14th-20th. The theme this year is stress. 

For most of us stress is a part of our everyday lives, and there are stressors that are positive and stressors that are negative. Whilst stress can contribute and exacerbate many physical and mental health problems it is not the only feature or factor.

Mental Health Org UK

I think we can all define stress in different ways, and whilst it clearly exists as some form of human alarm system it does have a necessary function and purpose. In NZ during my time as a High School Teacher I ensured that mental health, resilience and stress were all covered within the mainstream curriculum to ensure that students had the opportunity to explore key themes and concepts and to identify strategies to help them recognise stressors and deal with them appropriately.

I look at our students today and think that stress is indeed a pervasive feature of their lives and I worry for them as a generation.

Anything can act as a stressor, it can be an event, something environmental, something physical, even a thought, so, for example, someone who sweats (physical) excessively might find being in a warm room stressful. (Physical and environmental). A lot of the information out there seems to focus on the impact that stress can have on a person’s well-being and I wanted to focus more about how we can learn to identify our own stressors and manage them.

Ironically I would initially encourage students to use a really simple technique that I use in the classroom daily when encouraging students to be independent learners, a simple Questioning approach that can help us identify what a problem is, and in a sense begin to search for a helpful solution. It is the 3W’s and an H. What, When, Why?

  1. What? : What is the source of the stress? What is the stressor? What is it that is causing the “unease”?
  2. When? When does this make me feel stressed? Is it all the time, or just now?
  3. Why? Why is this making me feel stressed/uneasy?
  4. How? How can I deal with this stressor and minimise any unease in the most practical positive and useful way? Try to think of at least 3 things here….Magic 3.

So what does that actually look like-

Student A-

1. What– the stressor is an assignment deadline.

2. When-I generally feel stressed by deadlines especially when there are many of them close together.

3.  Why– I feel stressed because I don’t feel that I have the time or organisational skills to manage the deadlines well and get things completed and this the makes me feel inadequate.

4.  How– a) I could create a work plan to manage my assignment workload.

b) I could talk to someone relevant about the deadlines, workload, and stressors.

c) I could eat biscuits and worry and procrastinate and do nothing.

I feel that this is just a starting point and I have been student A many times in my life and probably done all three possible solutions.

The solutions themselves might bring additional stressors- I don’t know how to create a work plan…. I don’t know who to talk too….but at least we have a starting point.

So next time I will move on to how to approach a stressor in a pragmatic manner. (unfortunately, this isn’t eating all the biscuits….)

©Alison Jean Hankinson




I don’t belong to you…the voice of a lover crossed.

I don’t belong to you

I never did

I was just a borrowed shirt

An accessory of sorts

To compliment your crass existence

I wasn’t yours to own.


We danced all night, our bodies entwined

It was love at first sight,

We belonged together forever.

But at the end of the night

You were gone.

I was alone.


Do you want jam with your toast?

I prefer eggs she thought.

Is this my life I see before me?

Always him before me, and he can’t even see

Always sugar in tea, no chance to be free

No room for me.


I had his head on a platter

Silver ornate, shiny no blood spatter

It was the only way to win you see

I got to be loved and adored

Play the field, chair the board

And still be me.


©Alison Jean Hankinson