My Mum Spent 13 Years in Psyche Wards — Now Her Poetry Book Is Making Waves

Fate spoke and suffering enveloped a family.

Benny Carts
7 min readJan 13


Photo of my mother, Anne Gruenberg by Clare Park

There are many ways I could introduce this — poetic language, grand metaphors, a well-known quote — but I think it’s best put simply.

My mother has gone through hell.

Doing any justice to her story requires a word count heftier than the average article, so this will be split into two parts. Despite this, both will be mere cliff notes to what could easily be an epic novel. One that, despite there being no such neat finality to life, approximates a hopeful ending.

Reading this won’t only give you a unique insight into my tragic family history, but convey to you a universal truth: The bonds of love can strengthen the most timeworn vessel and, even amid the crashing waves of fate, enable it to cast off once again.

A pain we couldn’t clearly see

My last article detailed how, in the early nineties, my dad suffered a severe head injury. Shortly after his accident, he moved to California, leaving my mother to raise my brother and me on her own. Anyone who was brought up by a single parent, when money is short and support scarce, will know the kind of strain this can put on a person.

To clarify, my mother’s mental health wasn’t exactly copacetic before my dad’s TBI. She’d previously endured anorexia, physical abuse, and silent generation parents who (surprise, surprise) weren’t particularly demonstrative with their love. Despite all this, she did her maternal duty with aplomb, sacrificing herself to ensure we had a decent childhood.

And we did.

Photo by author

In the halcyon days of dens, after-school clubs, and visits to grandparents, we weren’t that conscious of the masks she wore or the increasingly heavy burden she carried. The fact my brother and I have any pleasant childhood memories at all, let alone a generally positive recollection, is a huge tribute to her.