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Express Yourself!

“In the shuffling madness, Of the locomotive breath,, Runs the all, time loser, Headlong to his death”  Ian Anderson

It is late at night and I want to do my post for Psych Central. My wife is back in the hospital for the second time this week. 

abstract art photoI have been married to Sylvia for almost fourteen years. We have always been together except for short times. Once for two weeks and a week when she went to Grenada without me. One four four weeks when I was in a psychiatric hospital. There have been other times as well. Simply put I terribly miss her.

I have many alternatives to dull the pain. To be honest I could always walk to the bar that’s three blocks away. When I was young I used alcohol to avoid facing reality. There are other unhealthy escapes as well. Instead of wallowing in my pity I am trying to fill my time with constructive things. To me, that means practicing my art and that would be writing.

All art is inspiration. Also, we all possess some artistic talent. One of Sylvia’s arts was cooking. She could take whatever was in the refrigerator and make it taste good. Sylvia also had a garden of which I helped her. She knew how to do a garden right which meant turning the soil, using dung and fresh soil and watering twice a day. Sylvia’s garden was a tremendous success and vegetables picked minutes before eating cannot be compared to. Syliva was generous and we shared our bounty with both our neighbors and friends at church.

Now Sylvia is in a hospital bed. She is getting an e.e.g. to determine if she was having seizures. They call dementia, ‘the long goodbye’ and I have thought much about my wife dying. It is, after all, inevitable. The sermon I preached last night was on Ecclesiastes chapter 3. That is the famous scripture brought to life by Pete Seger, that there is a time and season for everything. A time to be born and a time to die.

Life isn’t about avoiding hardship or finding the easy way through. Life is about how one handles the struggles and burdens. One way that humanity copes with the pains of life is through art. Art, in its highest form, transcends and conquers. How does singing your favorite song feel? Now just imagine how the artists who wrote that favorite song feels. I was watching a Roger Waters video of him performing and he seemed more excited singing his hits than the fans in the audience.

People with mental illness tend to be very artistic. In fact, some of us are more in that abstract world than the so-called ‘real’ world. Art is very healthy and might I say essential. It is a tragedy that when school budgets need to be cut, art and music is always first on the list. More tragic is the fact that if we didn’t spend so much money on the military we could really do wonderful things with our young people.

I am a strong believer in synergy, especially in my prose writing. When I write a story or a book, I don’t mind comments or help improving it. This goes along with my song lyrics. The few collaborators I have worked with made constructive changes to my lyrics improving it dramatically. But as far as my poetry goes, well that’s another story. Once I got a poem accepted to the now-defunct “Black Magnolias.” The editor said that he made some suggestions. I couldn’t open his version of word so I had to go to the library. Low and behold when I finally viewed his comments he changed every line. Well, I wrote back clearly expressing my offense. He returned saying that I didn’t listen to what they wanted in a poem. I had met one criterion but I failed on the second one of using imagery. Imagery was the prime thing. Well after a couple of weeks I submitted another poem which also was accepted. It came back with some edits and I worked on it. It turned out to be a great learning experience as we worked on about a dozen poems.

It is in that spirit that I would like to open up with my poetry school. It is an effort that I hope will one day form a book that teaches people to write poetry. It is, of course, free and all are welcome at any skill level, even if you have never written a poem before.



Photos by GRIFOLL Art & Folish Games,

Express Yourself!

John Kaniecki

John Kaniecki is a full-time caregiver for his wife Sylvia. He is a published writer and works with the Church of Christ. John has lived with bipolar for over thirty years and has been hospitalized nine times, three of which were committed. John has chronicled his life story in his memoirs "More Than The Madness". Also of note is John's book of poetry "Murmurings Of A Mad Man" which are poems written about being committed in Graystone Psychiatric Hospital. John believes in the power of words to change the world for the better. His website can be seen here. His books can be seen on Amazon. You can visit his personal blog "Turn A Page Or Two" here.

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APA Reference
Kaniecki, J. (2018). Express Yourself!. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 24, 2019, from


Last updated: 10 Jun 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Jun 2018
Published on All rights reserved.