Talking Words Blog

World Mental Health Day – a whisper or a shout…

I woke up this morning and a bomb exploded in my head causing pink and white confetti to rain down. A confetti of ideas feels wonderful, dizzying, like there is too much to do and not enough life in which to do it. I have been dubbed  a ‘butterfly’ as I flit from thing to thing, supping excitement here, making friends there, leaving a puff of colour and activity in my wake.

It occurred to me only a few days ago, that I might have ADHD. My husband looked as me as if to say, “you’ve only just worked that out?” I was an incessant chatterer at school and still cannot sit through a film with commenting, asking questions out loud and answering them myself if I’m on my own. I went to see ‘A Star is Born’  – AMAZING FILM –  with my daughter and turned to her to ask her to pause it for a minute as I wanted to say something. I laughed out loud realising we were in the cinema with no pause button, then started fiddling with the reclining seat to get comfortable. With my husband at one of those quiet and reverential guitar gigs, I was overcome with hunger and tried to open the packet of crisps in my bag as quietly as possible. And failed.

I’m a classic bag rummager/make-up in strange places applier/list maker/







It’s either a whisper or a shout. Mental health is like general health – good most of the time with periods where it’s not good at all and others when we feel fine. For some, the bad periods overlap and we need intervention to cope with daily life. For others, the dips and highs are cyclical and need to be ridden or endured until the episode has passed.

‘October Blue’ © Sukie Rose

The challenge is we don’t always know when we’re going to dip or fly and we don’t always make it obvious to our families and friends. Social media can amplify negative thought patterns, hormone levels, creating sudden shifts into darkness.

On World Mental Health Day, I acknowledge that both of my children have life-long mental health and neurological challenges, but in spite of these challenges they both have the potential to live happy and fulfilling lives. Part of attaining that goal is talking to them, sharing what I’ve learned about their conditions and how best to support them. I’ve also learned how to better manage and self-regulate my own mental health.

The ‘happyinschool’ project encapsulates how passionate I feel about supporting parents of children whose mental health is compromised,  whatever the reason. We have been so fortunate as a family to access the kindness of friends as well as expert clinical, psychological and psychiatric support and advice when it was needed.

In either a whisper or a shout, if you need to talk, it’s good to know that someone is listening.

Take care of you and listen with your whole self.


S.E.N.D in the Clowns: (VIDEO) my non-fiction project, I’d like to share it with you..

I’ve been working on a non-fiction book for the last few years, bringing together my experience of being an autism mum, an educationalist by osmosis and a firm believer in the transformative power of education.

Like many writers, we can be so much in our heads, it can be tricky to articulate clearly. So I took a public speaking course… how did I do?
© Suzy Rowland

Spoken in the vernacular: Louise Bennett Speaks [VIDEO]

Louise Bennett – courtesy of Jamaica National Library

Susan Rigg loved language and poetry as a child and was amazed when she first heard poetry by Louise Bennett in the vernacular, it took her to another level.  Hearing poetry spoken in Caribbean dialect that created an atmosphere and feeling that was unique. Scottish and Irish poets have been doing this for eons but there was a a certain snobbery about Caribbean accents, epitomised by shabby comedians of the day (this was the late seventies, early eighties) so for me, er Susan Rigg, hearing the Caribbean dialect as spoken word poetry gave value and cultural relevance to an accent I had been previously been ashamed of.

As a teenager, when I ‘upscaled’ my name to Suzy, the poetry I learned and recited at school was classical in tone and delivery. When dub-poets like Linton Kwesi-Johnson, Micheal Smith & Mutabaruka came on the scene, they set my brain alight with the possibility of Jamaican dialect, humour and folklore as a tore de force for my literary enjoyment. There is a rich oral tradition in African culture but the cross-over took a little while to permeate. As Louise said herself:

“I have been set apart by other creative writers a long time ago because of the language I speak and work in. From the beginning nobody ever recognised me as a writer. ‘Well, she is “doing” dialect;’ it wasn’t even writing you know. Up to now a lot of people don’t even think I write. They say “Oh, you just stand up and say these things!” LOUISE BENNETT

Everything moves on, Poetry, in particular spoken word poetry, has moved a long way in the last few decades. Married now and going by the Rowland surname, I can reflect on how inspiring it is to see so many black and mixed ethnicity poets, weave their culture, class, dialect into their work and make it their own. The likes of George the Poet @GeorgeThePoet @akalamusic and Yrsa Daley-Ward firmly underline the universal impact of poetry to tell stories in a rich diversity of styles, and dialects.

Enjoy Louise!

© Suzy Rowland

Message to Mars – flash fiction by Suzy Rowland

The sky turned blue as the MARSO, an official order from Mars Command, flashed across the sky:

‘Urgent request for water, supplies are running low.. Blink! Blink! Blink!

MARSOs logged directly into the mainframe, so the operating team didn’t need to do anything but watch through the clear glass screen, as the giant subterranean reservoir four hundred metres down the corridor, filled with water. The reservoir, RES1, was supported by steel girders, due to the extreme pressure it contained.  Earth Command Crew watched the process intently; most of them had family on Mars; who had been elected to live there by State One, because they were either over sixty or critically ill.

It was a long time since this process had been activated and the anxiety of it made the atmosphere in Command Centre sticky. A few of the crew noticed that as the reservoir filled, large green areas of planet earth on the monitor, started to turn brown. Species Watch was starting to glow orange, as earth’s reduced water levels signalled automatic extinction for a variety of critical sub-species in our swamps and riverbanks, invisible to the naked eye but vital to our eco-structure.

Marion started to laugh uncontrollably. At 59 and clinically depressed, she was the perfect candidate for the next batch of Mars migration. Her heart racing wildly, she slipped out of Command Centre. No one noticed her leave, slim with shoulder length dark-hair and glasses she was used to disappearing into to the background, not being listened to.

Slowly at first and then with increasing urgency, she broke into a fast trot, sprinting down the long corridor towards RES1. It was a six minute walk from Command Centre, but she needed to be quick before her absence was noticed. The heavy grey slab door was bolted, but Marion had been entrusted with a microchip implant when she passed Security Level Three, as well as a slim iron safety key. She was given this before her beloved aunt was sent away. Aunt Sarah had believed in her as a child, encouraged her interest in science at school, paying 80% of her undergraduate tuition fees and had been a stalwart supporter of her career. She had also counselled her through her divorce. Her love for Aunt Sarah rivalled the love she felt for her parents, her selflessness, her spirit of adventure.  She was doing this for her.

She scanned her wrist, punched in the code and the giant door pad seemed to  glowed a green smile at her. The key slipped into the lock like a ring on a bride of many years. As it turned, Marion released a primordial scream that ricocheted across the complex, amplifying the security alarm’s siren. Within seconds she had pressed system over-ride, enabling full capacity for the last of earth’s water reserves to flow to Mars via the reservoir.  The water in RES1 danced in wild abandon, away from earth, gaily through the reinforced channels to hydrate the red planet, unaware of the devastation that would befall planet earth.

The rest of Command Crew could see what was happening, but they were frozen, blinking in horror at earth’s imminent demise. No-one else on the planet knew it, but it was just  a matter of time before the water shortages became commonplace and the rioting would begin.

Deranged tears ran down Marion’s face, she could think and feel more clearly than she had in years. She felt she was rebalancing the injustice of the universe, giving something back, this one’s for you Auntie! And for the others like you who didn’t have a choice.

It was 3018. Earth glowed another red hot summer. There were only two seasons now: winter and summer. This summer was causing earth dwellers some problems.  Earth Command Crew beamed a blue message across the sky to ROSS 128b.

‘Urgent request for water, supplies are running low!  Blink! Blink! Blink!

© Suzy Rowland






I am NO longer invisible [REVIEW/VIDEO- Gal-dem, Weekend Guardian]

‘Sunday morning

hot coffee and granola

your pink cover jumps into my space,

no bubble gum pencil thin barbie here

by the Grace of our Lord,

hot black talent with attitude (TWA),

grins at me, a cover full of promise

revolution in my bedroom by 07:35

my private world of black womanhood in typescript

knowingness of other

everything laid bare


replace coffee cup on table with extreme care

in case the words disappear when I look away.’

© Suzy Rowland


The drunken master of insecurity [FLASH FICTION]

She felt like an imposter… ‘Who do I think I am, calling myself a writer?’ Where’s the deal, the positive acclaim, cosy interviews on TV sofas headphones on, waiting in radio studios for the ‘on air’ button to glow red? This is my life! she whispered to herself through frustrated tears.

Her life story was similar to many others: the longing, the personal and financial struggles and finally  – the success! It’s so funny, she grinned – flirting with everyone in the studio – achieving your big writing break when you’re in your fifth decade…flutter, twinkle, wink. Everyone in the studio laughed along with her, but thought to themselves, ‘It won’t take me that long to get to the top of my game!’

Her gloomy thoughts reflected the sky-full of rain, after a string of sunny days. This mood will pass, she thought, closing her eyes in mini-meditation. I will poke my head through this web of despair, but today is a wallow sort of day.  Eyeing her white bookshelves groaning with self-help books, she acknowledged the wisdom of surrender to the drunken master of insecurity. She smiled at this, reminding herself these funks were transitory and usually  followed by periods of frenzied activity, globs of creativity and furious connecting with fellow travellers on the creative road.

The room was quiet, as her eyes moved from the bookshelves to the window, and rested on a smudge of yellow emerging from the grey clouds. The soft yellow grew brighter, shining directly onto the rage and beauty of her core.

© Sukie Rose

If you’re a writer, or any sort of creative, can you relate to this post? Let me know! We’re in this crazy game together. How do you get yourself out of the doldrums and back on your energizing game?

Summer 2018 [INSTApoem]

So far, 2018 is turning into a mega Summer for heat and the extreme impacts of the heat, it will become one of those years that become fuzzy and pretty in your head if you let it. Save this summer, in the memory bank marked ‘good times’.

The light and heat of the sun can be harsh and dangerous, but if we treat her with respect goddess sun is life-affirming, energy and vitamin providing, endorphin-generating. Even when you’re feeling hot and uncomfortable, close your eyes and say ‘thank you’ for the heat and well-being you feel in that moment.

Happy Sun Day!

© Suzy Rowland

Asperger’s [POEM]

Relentless pursuit of one goal

One, goal. Pure focus

‘what? we can’t cross the river here

let’s build a bridge or a tunnel

there must be a way!”

An unbending line

from here to my destination

details to be written, recorded

stored on plates, words, dates

please don’t distract me

with daily life

I’ve a job to do

stories to be consumed

by everyone I never knew

and you.

Burano, Italy

 I cannot stop, not no, cannot,

until the desire of my brain,

is sated, released of its many thoughts about

one thing, many things that are, the same thing

calmer then, until my eye

catches a new target:

‘Go, go go!’

there is no other way.

Continue reading Asperger’s [POEM]