Hi, I'm a Jam Jar

A powerful poem by Karen Richards addresses the language used to describe people who have experienced mental ill-health

Hi, I’m a Jam Jar

I’ve a label like a tin of peas

And my thoughts and feelings are a disease

Hi, I’m a Jam Jar and I can’t do the things normal people do

But give me a pill and I’ll be normal too


Hi, I’m a Jam Jar

Like a table that’s unstable . . .

But a Carpenter could put me right

Fix me quick overnight

Tidy my edges, smooth me out

But if that hurts I cannot shout


Hi, I’m a Jam Jar

I’m a piece of cloth you can cut to fit

Me a coat that I don’t like one bit

But you’ll keep on picking me apart

You’ll stitch me up and you’ll break my heart


No, I’m a Clock, you can fix me

Pick and mix me

And manoeuvre my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams

Make me doubt who I am, pick me apart at the seams


Hi, I’m a Person

And my thoughts and feelings aren’t a disease

And I’m not paying Psychiatrist’s fees

To label me to go with a pill


Hi, I’ve a Life

And I’ve messed things up and made mistakes

And sometimes that is all it takes

And add loss and grief and all abuse

Is this enough to put my neck in a noose?


Oh no, ‘cause I’m amazing

I’ve lived through Hell for a purpose and a plan

And so can every child, woman, man

And when it’s not just I, but We

Just think of the possibility


So you are not a Jam Jar or like a tin of peas

YOU aren’t a label or a disease

You are a unique being with vast potential

Remember this, it’s so essential


So let’s stand here all united

And listen as each one tells their story

Of Hell and Heaven, hope and glory.


And of what has made it worth the fight

To come out of the darkness and into the light.



©Karen Richards


Karen has been involved with P3's Derbyshire Independent Living service, and runs the Eureka Writing Group in Swadlincote, in association with Rethink.