Two things tend to greatly suffer in mental illness- creativity and human relationships. Sarah Wheeler believed this as she lived with Borderline Personality Disorder and Depression. She set out to create a space that was open-hearted, connecting, non-judgemental, creative and safe – The Dragon Cafe on Borough High Street in London. And it is exactly that – a little bit of heaven for those who’ve been in hell.
Sarah set up “Mental Fight club”. It’s mission is to put on imaginative events for people of all mental health experiences. Every event seeks to connect our inner and outer world and ourselves to one another, whoever we may be. It is no wonder that I intended to be there only for a couple of hours but ended up spending more than double that time, feeling totally relaxed and quite happy.
All visitors are called patrons. Each one is important. You don’t have to do anything. You may do some art, read poetry, dance, sit around and chat, drink tea, have some heavily subsidized, freshly cooked vegetarian food or have a nap on a bean-bag in the Quiet Room.
I will definitely be back there next Monday.
From our conversations it was clear that it is the focal point of many lives. It gives them hope, some thing to look forward to and a strong sense of acceptance and belonging. These are basic human needs that are so often unfulfilled.
Maybe mental illness is not a disease of the brain, but that of society.
This poem by Ben Okri is one of Sarah’s inspirations:
An illusion by which we can become
A moment unremarked by the Universe,
By nature, the seasons or stars.
Moment we have marked out
Making a ritual, a drama, a tear
Domesticating the infinite.
Contemplating the quantum questions,
Time, death, new beginnings,
Regenerations, cycles, the unknown.