Copyright © New Therapist



The upside of down

By John Soderlund


Dr Seuss’s timeless children’s book, The Sneetches, has been one of the earliest and most absorbing literary guides for millions of young minds about the mechanics of prejudice and identity politics. For those who were deprived of the simple elegance of Dr Seuss, his story tells, predominantly in simple rhyming couplets, of a race of yellow, beach-dwelling creatures, the Sneetches. But, as you might guess, not all are alike. Some had stars on their bellies and others did not. And those with the stars had succeeded in earning the envy of bare-bellied Sneetches on beaches, who were down in the dumps with their starless state. And thus starts the story of their bitter fate.

Because discrimination, as we all know,

Soon creates markets, and markets that grow.

And who better to milk them to make himself happy,

Than McMonkey McBean, the “fix-it-up-chappie”.

For those who could pay, he could make them the same,

As the starry-eyed fellows who soon felt the shame

That comes from being just like all other old sneetches

Who were now also strutting their stars on the beaches

And so stars came back off and went on in a hurry

As all of the Sneetches got caught in a flurry

Of staying the coolest, the hippest, the best,

By making quite sure they were not like the rest.

And so it went on as stars were recycled,

Till nobody knew who was really entitled

To call themselves special or most prepossessing

Except old McBean, whose departure was pressing

The mental health landscape might be quite akin,

To a star on a belly or colour of skin.

Well that’s what Tom Wootton might have us believe.

Depression and mania might be a reprieve

From the sameness and boredom that most of find

In our humdrum existence and “soundness of mind”.

In fact your depression might bring some relief

If you see that your pain shouldn’t always mean grief.

And if you’re bipolar, don’t get in a panic,

The thoughts you can think - while they feel rather manic

Might be just the things, if you manage them well,

That can make you feel better, in fact, rather swell.

Our downs can be uppers, says bipolar Tom

And our highs won’t be downs if we don’t wish them gone

And with careful attention we can be diagnosed

And like all the normals, remain quite composed.


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