Call for Mental Health Metaphors for INCUBATE

Seven months ago…  let me just let that sink in for a second…

Seven months ago I started a sub-project for my Do You Mind? project, which had been brewing in my mind for at least a year called ‘What’s Your Metaphor’.

I had explored and theorised how metaphors about mental health problems were 1) usually an evocative and in some circumstances the only way of explaining the experience of a mental health 2) Could be quite awesomely translated into puppetry

Having already used some of my own experiences of anxiety, panic attacks and mild depression to explore this idea I decided the next step was to ask other people:


“What’s Your Metaphor?”

It was a simple question and I got a great response from it and I’m so incredibly grateful and touched by people’s honesty and the terrible beauty of their metaphors.

Now that I have now been given a theatre/rehearsal space to research, devise and develop my idea, thanks to the Little Angel and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s INCUBATE programme. So I am more in need then ever for these metaphors!

Can you help me?

Here’s a brief(-ish) rundown of what I’m looking for

I started What Is Your Metaphor? to find and collect the metaphors used by people with mental health issues to communicate their illnesses to other people.

One of the most famous examples is Winston Churchill’s references to a ‘big black dog’ which was a metaphor for his bouts of depression.

‘What’s your metaphor?’ is a question for anyone whose experienced some sort of mental illness or mental health issue. I’m especially looking for people who have had a direct experience with mental illness, but I’m more then happy to receive metaphors from people who have had experience with other people’s mental illness (we really cannot forget the people around us who help, because it is unfortunately too easy to)

With any luck examples of peoples metaphors will help other people speak out about their mental health and soon the stigma and discrimination will diminish. This is what this project is about after all. I want to encourage people to talk about their mental health by giving them a vocabulary.

So what I would like is your particular brand of mental health (if you have a label for it) and your metaphor, it can be one sentence (“My head is dislocated”) or more (“I feel as if I am in a pit, its dark and lonely and I can’t escape…”)

For example, here is my metaphor:

Anxiety – I feel I am invisible sometimes, like there’s no-one that can see me, or hear me and I am making no impact on the world.

Feel free to post these anonymously as a comment on WordPress

Or you can email me your metaphors at:

Lastly, from the bottom of my ever palpitating heart, thank you to all those that contribute. I  appreciate that its sometimes tough to admit or express what goes on in our minds and you are helping me to take that positive step forward. Hopefully one day it won’t be brave to send things like this.

 Some of the metaphors will most likely be used very considerately in the Do You Mind? Project, a puppetry project for an adult audience and, unless people post anonymously ,they will be contacted if I think about developing something around their metaphor.
Please find more information about the Do You Mind? project
Please find more information on the initial call for metaphors on the What’s Your Metaphor page

3 thoughts on “Call for Mental Health Metaphors for INCUBATE

  1. Borderline personality disorder is like being on a rollercoaster, blindfolded; you don’t know about the exact falls and turns until you hit them, but you know they’re coming, and there’s rarely time to recover in between. Or it’s like a storm, but you’re not trapped in it – you are the storm. I’m a hurricane shaped as a girl, and most people run for shelter.

    • I haven’t had a metaphor for BPD yet so thank you for this. It’s helped me to understand a little how that conditions feels 🙂
      Your hurricane shaped girl is just beautiful. I want to see how that looks.

      Thanks for your honesty and for sharing with me 🙂

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