Embracing vulnerability: Witnessing a beautiful moment of healing in a mental health ward

For those who may not know, I work in a London mental health ward. I am writing this post to share a beautiful moment that occurred yesterday.

The protagonist of this story is a man named K., who is a likable 40-year-old with dreadlocks, black, and a cannabis user since he was 10 years old. He suffers from depression. Last night, just before going to bed, he picked up his guitar and started playing a few songs. His last song was a Bob Marley song, to which he bears a striking resemblance.

The song was “Redemption Song.”

Marley wrote this song after being diagnosed with cancer and while going through a period of intense pain and psychological turmoil. This song was completely different from his other ones; it was an acoustic ballad without a trace of reggae rhythm.

The way K. played the guitar and sang the lyrics “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds” was an open window into his soul. Through this window, I could see the tormented Marley, but also many other tormented people, like most of our patients, who had now gathered around K. and were listening to him with their eyes closed, swaying to the melody.

I looked around and captured the moment. I locked it in my mind forever, so that I could relive it during difficult times and remember that none but ourselves can free our minds.