Superhero: A Visual Poem About Mental Illness and Heroism
"I am not a superhero," begins Laura Burke in the video for "Superhero," her spoken word poem about living with mental illness. Burke, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2009, describes the experience through the lens of superhero stories, where people's lives are often turned upside down as they are faced with entirely new ways of seeing the world and seemingly insurmountable struggles.
"It is true that I have endured the type of soul-crushing destruction beyond what most people dream about in their worst nightmares," says Burke. "It is true that I have suffered and that my sense of reality has had to shift. And it is true that there is an uplifting follow-up chapter to my story."Superheroes have always offered a powerful sort of fantasy for comic book readers, not only because of their incredible abilities and fantastic adventures, but also because the challenges they face are often very much like our own: They struggle with relationships, feel torn between the person they are and the person they want to be, get treated like outcasts, and even feel like failures, no matter how many times they have saved the world.
And like Burke, we conversely look at them and see ourselves because on some level we are all trying to be heroes in our own lives, to turn and face the many moments big and small where we feel like we can't do it, and somehow find a way. Ultimately, Burke reflects that like many heroes who have had their lives changed in sudden and unwanted ways, her recovery did not come "from some special quality I had always possessed," but rather from a slow, painful process of acceptance and the support of those around her. "Even the intrepid among us might sink without someone to hold them," says Burke.
(via The Daily What)