A few years ago, I was sitting in a London teashop feeling pretty low. I had shuttered a startup that I had been working on, and just didn’t know what to do with myself. So, in an attempt to lift my spirits, my best friend treated me to tea at one of my favourite places in Piccadily. As we sipped our cups of (deliciously smoky) Lapsang Souchang, I had this crazy idea that would go on to become HaikuJAM…
Now despite the fact that HJ was born from a space of dejection, we could never have imagined that it would be used in the context of therapy. Since launching the app, we have received countless messages from people, sharing their daily battles with depression or anxiety, and how the unassuming act of writing poems with strangers has helped them out of negative spirals.
There was a time when life became monotonous: I was examining corpses and offences day in, day out and I became very pessimistic about life and the world around me. Just then I discovered the HaikuJAM app serendipitously and my perspective changed and has been changing ever since. It’s not just a comfort zone but a daily outlet, where I can in fact employ my higher faculties to create something wonderful, unexpected and instantaneous. Jamming is now the bright part of my day and I wish to continue to discover myself and touch my life and those of others through the happiness a beautiful jam brings.
Dr. Anamika Nath
We were intrigued and deeply inspired by this phenomenon. It seemed that, quite unconsciously, we had helped to foster a compassionate and empathetic community of strangers (which is pretty rare on the internet!). Retrospectively it did make sense however: HaikuJAM does feel like a zen garden, where people are connecting over emotions and perspectives; you physically pick up someone’s thought (without knowing who they are or their present circumstance) and continue the story. There is very little social pressure to ‘perform’ or present a glazed version of your life; you can just be you and share whatever it is that you’re thinking or going through, without the fear of being judged.
HaikuJAM is my creative support group, that’s available 24/7
So we thought that we’d share 6 poems from the HaikuJAM app on the themes of mental health, depression and anxiety. These are often discussed in the community and some incredibly brave jammers have also shared their personal experiences, to help raise awareness and let anyone who’s suffering know that they are not alone.
I downloaded HaikuJAM out of curiosity, you could say. And the simple idea intrigued me, collaborating with strangers to write words. But I had never in my wildest imaginations thought it would one day keep me alive and sane. I would love to share my experience on how HJ was a lifeline for me when I was reeling under the bout of severe depression.
I was going through a bad phase in life and craving for my voice to be heard. I wanted someone to say it’s OK. I wanted a way where my thoughts would find an outlet, I couldn’t bare the dark, morbid, suicidal thoughts. My efforts at Meditation made it worse. But the one thing I would do was open HJ everyday to read random jams. HJ had become my way of life. And as I continued to jam, connecting with random people, HJ became my Zen, my meditation, my therapy, collaborating with people was my connection to myself. Slowly, steadily, the dark oppressive clouds of depression were fading. And every haiku that I collaborated on was therapeutic. Each word, healing my soul, was an expression of thought falling to the parched soil of my mind like a drop on rain… And slowly spring came, and the grass grew by itself…
I would love to connect with people whose silent cry for help goes unnoticed. And it would be my pleasure to help them overcome their dark times.
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was drowning deep in an ocean of depression. Just then when life was the last thing I wanted from life and when relentless withdrawal symptoms were taking their toll, I took to silence. Just when my words had lost meaning, I chanced upon HaikuJAM.
Submitting my lines there, I was happy to see how beautifully my words took on new meaning. I found my lost hope. For the first time I was not a mother, wife, daughter but a name and an identity as a jammer in a warm and welcoming community. I found a new meaning to life, which was not a hallucination but a reality, my reality. To quote my psychiatrist,”HJ did, what counselling sessions could not do”. Yes, HJ is peace.
If you have a story to share or would like to collaborate with HaikuJAM to help raise more awareness about depression, anxiety, mental health or another theme that’s close to your heart, then please do reach out to me on firstname.lastname@example.org 🙏