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Showcase: I Used To Be A Mountain + Writing My Way To Recovery + Overcoming + Anxiety

Edited by Helen Aitchison

I’m delighted to return to Write On! for the month of June, to select pieces for the weekly Showcase. The theme continues to be ‘Overcoming’, something all of us have faced at times in our lives. This unity is reflected in the wonderful pieces I’ve chosen for my first week.

I Used To Be A Mountain by TAK Erzinger is a deeply moving poem combining poignant nature metaphors with the devastating emotions of loss. A piece guaranteed to stay with me for a long time.

I Used To Be A Mountain

I am no mother, but I carried life for a time.
A forest full of song.
Then the avalanche came and buried me alive.
Loss, followed by silence.
Later you whispered, wake up,
Coffee in hand,
As if a new day would awaken a tune, harmony?
Now lost in meadow of blankets.
Next to me, you sip your brew,
Admiring the changed landscape.
You try and reassure me: a little devastation isn’t always a bad thing —

© TAK Erzinger, 2024

Connect with TAK on Instagram: @takerzinger


The second piece, Writing My Way To Recovery, is by Dr Afsana Elanko. What stood out in this short story was determination and strength, even at the most challenging of times. And that this inner strength, and perhaps the support of people around us, can be our fuel for overcoming.

Writing My Way To Recovery

Present Day: Maya’s name was called out for the Rising Star award at the Khoti National Book Ceremony. She was in tears as she made her way up to the stage to accept the award. She was in shock. Why her? Was she really this good?

Twenty Years Earlier: Maya lay in the hospital bed, knowing her injuries were life-changing, as she could not move anything below her neck. She was lying on her back after surgery, just looking up at the ceiling.

The doctors kept asking: “Can you feel this?” repeating this same phrase every time they came to see her.

At first, she thought it was the morphine was playing tricks with her mind and that she imagined these scenarios. Morphine can have strange effects. But the realisation hit when her when her ten-year-old daughter, Lucy, put cream on her hands and she couldn’t feel a thing. Maya tried to be brave and hold back the tears, but they betrayed her and trickled down her face.

Was this going to be her life? A mother who just lay in a bed and had no meaningful interaction in life. Her biggest decision lay ahead. Was she going to be a ‘good’ patient and accept her injuries, following the path laid out by the healthcare professionals? Or was she going to fight to regain her life against all the odds?

Lucy wiped the tears, saying, “Mum, don’t cry. I’ll look after you.”

Her decision to fight for life was made.

She said to Lucy, “I should have done this ages ago. Get a pen and paper.”

Maya started dictating, with her daughter writing. The words came naturally, and the poems were heart-wrenching, coming as they did  from  the dark, deep place of pain she was experiencing.

On the days she’d taken morphine, the poems became dreamlike and fantasy-based. On the days the pain was intolerable, the poems pulled on the heart strings. Either way, as the words spilled out onto the pages, so did her anguish and pain.

Writing liberated Maya from her frozen body. Who knew its power could be so profound?

Present Day: As Maya reached the stage, Lucy whispered in her ear, “Mum, we did it. You’ve become the writer you always wanted to be.”

Maya turned her head in the wheelchair and said, “And you’ve become the college professor of literature you wanted to be!”

They’d supported each other’s dreams, creating a new world for them both.

© Dr Afsana Elanko, 2024


Next, a poem, Overcoming, by Eva Lauder. The emotion in this moving piece hit me hard and I could almost visualise the author, seeing their challenge, feeling their challenge. It echoes strength, determination and never giving up.


You’ll be fine, they said, nothing to worry about, they said.
I knew they were wrong. Inside I felt dread.
Things went from bad to worse,
Why was I punished with this curse?
I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry,
Why me? I want to die.
I had been left with no choice but to live alone with my child.
Better alone than be lonely, with someone whose ignorance drove me wild.
Life moved, I became adept,
To every debilitating thing that my body had grown to accept.
Sometimes I use one stick, sometimes I used two,
But more often when I want to go far, I use my throne on wheels.
It’s better this way than to struggle, feel blue.
What to do, what to do? My legs stick to the floor like glue.
Move like a tin soldier or move like a sloth,
I really don’t know, so I do both.
Spasticity, always a pain.
What to do, what to do? Exercise and massage, there’s less to lose and more to gain.
Keep moving, keep your lats down, abs in.
Focus when you walk. Easier said than done,
When your body is rebelling against your brain.
People wonder how I overcome these hurdles on the daily,
That I deal with ever so gaily.
I refuse to crumble. I refuse to give in.
Keep smiling. Keep laughing. Don’t forget the strength within.
One hand has tremors and one is numb,
It’s something I’ve learned to overcome.
MS is the villain that keeps on taking.
It’s hard to keep your head up, no faking.
But life is for living. I won’t be dragged down,
I hear people say, “Such a lovely lady, what a shame.”
And yes, MS is my bane.
But I think, do not pity me. For I’m surrounded by love. My circle is small but we fit hand in glove.
In all of this, I am blessed.
I have gone with the flow with three kids in tow,
And a granddaughter to make four little ducks in a row.
Life is what you make it. You can’t think of how things could have been.
But you can think, how can I be seen?
In a twist of fate, I’ve fulfilled my dream: I am a writer.
So, I guess it’s great being a fighter.

© Eva Lauder, 2024

Connect with Eva on Facebook: Eva Lauder Author, on X: @laulauev, on Instagram: @EvaLauderAuthor and via her website:


My final choice is Anxiety by Lee Allen. What drew me to this piece was the transparency, honesty, and feeling this writer was giving a voice, validation and encouragement to so many.


Many may believe that suffering with anxiety is simply being worried — you know, something we need to stop being so weak and silly about; just get a grip and get on with it. But anxiety is far from being so simplistic and easily conquerable. Anxiety is like being trapped in a war between yourself and your thoughts and emotions. It is feeling overwhelmed by everything around you and inside your own head: past, present and future. It is feeling a lack of control over your own existence, of being assaulted by a thousand interpretations of present circumstances and future scenarios, none of which you feel you can influence or avert. It is the dread that entirely consumes you. Perhaps you know why, or the thousand reasons why. Perhaps you don’t.

It can prevent you from living your life to the fullest and doing things you enjoy,  it can harm your relationships with others, it can make you turn and run away or freeze you in your tracks. It’s the enemy of pleasure and happiness, of peace, of time fulfilled. With it may come embarrassment and shame, due in part to the way people do not understand and still hold on to their preconceptions of what it means to be anxious.

Anxiety manifests in multiple ways: perhaps in an inability to switch off, a constant awareness of a long list of tasks that must be accomplished, beginning a cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. In social anxiety, leaving you on edge amongst large crowds of people, or even with your closest family and friends. In health anxiety, wondering if the slightest blemish or ache or pain is actually something sinister. In obsessive thoughts and compulsive coping mechanisms, overwhelmed by a desperate need to maintain control over your mind, your body, your environment when you feel such a lack of control elsewhere.

These scenarios are just some of my own experiences. Others will read this whose anxiety manifests in entirely different ways.

In recent years, I’ve usually been able to recognise the symptoms early enough to combat them. Not that it’s by any means easy to separate your thinking from external triggers. Nor does awareness of thinking irrationally or obsessively make it any easier to escape the escalating thoughts and emotions. More often than not, I’m able to find solace in writing and my hobbies and interests, when I’ve not slipped too far down the track to where my mind cannot focus and everything feels like noise. Being out in nature always soothes my soul; such reminders of feelings of freedom can help the mind to find it.

Something it took me a long time to accept was that I needed to stop. That the only way to heal was to be able to pause. Far easier said than done,when part of what’s causing the anxiety is feeling intensely overwhelmed by everything you need to do and think and feel and plan for. Too many of us still feel inadequate or ashamed, telling ourselves this is our ‘fault’. If only we could be ‘stronger’ then we could more adequately deal with these things. Until very recently, I didn’t directly speak about my own experiences and I still struggle to allow myself to be that vulnerable.

In my short story, Run, I personified anxiety and depression as a demon stalking the main character’s soul. Unsurprisingly, it’s probably the story that has the most readers saying it left them confused. And, of course, that is partly the intention. If mental health issues were so easy to understand, to empathise with, then we wouldn’t even need to talk about it, to explain it, in order to raise awareness. It would simply be self-evident; then people may naturally treat sufferers with compassion.

Mental health has featured heavily throughout my work, sometimes directly, sometimes metaphorically, long before it became ‘normal’ or ‘socially acceptable’ to talk about it. But that is the beauty of fiction, and we’ve been doing it for centuries. It can help us to know we’re never alone, even when we feel that we are.

© Lee Allen, 2024

Connect with Lee on Facebook: @LeeAllenAuthor, X: @LeeAllenAuthor, Instagram: @LeeAllenAuthor and via their website:


If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to:

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