Poetry in emotion
Sandy Jeffs is an outstanding poet and writer. She is also not afraid to talk about her schizophrenia. Sandy was diagnosed in 1976. She has been completely open about her illness. Sandy has talked about schizophrenia on radio, television and many schools and universities.
In 2008 Sandy appeared on Andrew Denton's documentary Angels and Demons. She began by saying to Andrew that "if you need an insane conversation, just talk to me". She then described in theatrical manner all the different manifestations. She spoke of hallucinations and voices.
Sandy's humour is very refreshing. But can also be very sad to hear her talk. It is particularly confronting hearing her describe all the voices hurting and insulting her. They often tell her she is worthless.
Love of poetry
Sandy is best known for her poetry. Her love of poetry is something we have in common. She is a prolific writer. Her poetry books include:
- The Wings of Angels
- Poems from the Madhouse
- Bloody Relations.
In 2009 Sandy also published her autobiography. It is called Flying with Paper Wings: Reflections on Living with Madness. In the book Sandy shares her difficult family life. The book was shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year.
From the heart
Sandy writes from the heart. Her poetry is never dull. It is interesting and complex. She also uses unforgettable turns of phrase. In one poem she describes herself as being in a "broken land". She also describes schizophrenia as "the untamed dark wood".
Sandy also writes many beautiful and touching poems. Poems from the Madhouse features a poem about a nurse gently brushing her long hair. There are also spiritual poems about angels, goddesses and bright light. Art, philosophy, history greatly feature in Sandy's poems. She also weaves elements from popular culture. She uses wonderful illusions and allusions.
Many of the poems in Blood Relations explore her difficult family life. It can be frightening to read. Sandy describes a "house of horror". In the interesting poem Facade, she ends each verse with the mantra "something was rotting in our family".
I feel fortunate that I have a wonderful family who support me. It must have been so difficult for Sandy not to have the same support. She has gone through so much. But she has survived it all and is positive about her life. Sandy now describes the way she manages her illness through an operation called "Team Sandy". The team consists of people who help and support her such as friends, psychologists and psychiatrists. Sandy's other positive outlets apart from writing include a love of tennis and her beloved pets. She has also committed to attending the same discussion group every Tuesday afternoon for the last 20 years.
I really admire Sandy. She is a real role model to me. I am sure she also inspires other writers, particularly those with mental illness.