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A poem on experience of ECT from Colin Hambrook / 14 July 2010

drawing of a figure held in thought by representations of demonic forces

Brooding, digitised drawing © Colin Hambrook

Zoom in to this image and read text description

I try hard when writing poetry… sometimes too hard. Scanning this drawing into the computer somehow gave it an even more oppressive feel. Playing with the contrast made it that much starker.

The drawing wasn't made for the poem, but the mood of the drawing sums up some of the suppressed rage in this poem. There is a central figure in battle with demons and strange fizzing machines rising above him. So many of my drawings express different aspects of psychosis...

In many ways my life has been shaped by the moment the psychiatrist took me into my bedroom, aged ten, and subtly demanded to know all the 'mad' things my mum had been saying, on a promise he would make her better.

He took her away and gave her so much ECT she couldn’t remember her children when we came to see her in hospital.

Held fast in the youth chair;
vacant, rebellious,
you are a broken cup
that smashes
a little more
every time
I try
to pick you up.

Your expression
burns my skin
reminds me of
that recurring dream
haunting early childhood
a black and white
movie picture of mum
the smell of burning
waking me
night on night
till, finally…

They burnt her temple
lobes with their 'all
for the best' ethos
that’s fucked us
generation after
fucking generation!

Keywords: depression,mental health,poetry,


Dolly Sen

14 July 2010

a beautiful and poignant poem, Colin, you are an amazing poet

Creativity with a Conscience

14 July 2010

"you are a broken cup that smashes a little more every time I try to pick you up".

Colin, I could just cry for every person in the world who has ever felt like that, including myself. I love your drawings, they are powerful, symbolic and interesting!

isolte avila

14 July 2010

When are we going to all get together and work on getting Colin a proper showing of his AMAZING work!? I love this Colin , thankyou for letting us see these . I feel so honoured to know you as an artist and human being ,. You are truly cool!


Joe Mc

14 July 2010

Beautiful poem - terrifying vision of a system which seemed to think so little of zapping people's life force. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Lynn Harrison

15 July 2010

Very powerful Colin.

As a mum, I can remember my sons being brought to see me in the psych unit and my trying to appear 'normal' for them and reassure them about the 'hotel'I was staying in, as my youngest once called it.

One day, maybe we will talk about what they made of those times, when and if they want to.

Maureen Oliver

14 July 2010

Your brilliant poem moved me to tears. My daughter was made to keep a diary about me when I was 'released' from hospital one time. She was nine... Your writing and visual art are quite amazing.

joe kelly

14 July 2010

a powerful piece of writing

sarah p

15 July 2010

Colin I am speechless - so powerful and it would be great to have a complete exhibition of all your poems and artwork - how can we do this?