Russell Road’s Basement

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2015 Nancy Virden

100_4475My big move to another state is tomorrow morning. Here in Pennsylvania I am leaving behind my husband and marriage of 34 years. There will also be hundreds of miles between me and the mental health professionals who literally and figuratively saved my life. This is clearly an emotional time.

4 days ago I had opportunity to sit quietly in an empty room that had once hosted both my despair and introduction to change. It is a room used for support groups for addiction recovery, depression and suicide, and more. It was hard to say goodbye to this room. The following poem is what I wrote as I realized I could leave pain and profound wonder in that room, and walk away for the last time.

Russell Road’s Basement

This Room.

The few shifting shadows,

Faint silhouettes,

Ghosts of enlivened memory,

Belie This Room’s history.


Hundreds, perhaps more,

Shattered, and shattering,

O’erwhelmed and fragile,

Breathless and barely living beings

Have come to This Room

In search of at least one-

An idea of hope,

A belief for hope,

An “I can” from hope,

Or that elusive hidden treasure,

HOPE, which changes everything.


This Room.

Today I watch

Moving, dark figures,

As  remembered souls

Experiment, striving

For  the regeneration

Of empty and filling,

Fallen and climbing,

Dying and resurrecting.


One shadow engages me,

Waving her hand,

Inviting me to follow her

Away from This Room

And it’s dank,




And to enter a new space

Unlimited by walls

And the few chairs

Where ghosts rest.


That shadow is me.

I  follow my past self,

Leaving behind This Room,

This wishing and longing room,

Into living, promising hope.


NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

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