The Tunnel at the Beginning of the Light


By Alexandra Elkington

ISBN: 978-1-84991-462-8
Published: 2011
Pages: 116
Key Themes: poetry, Dissociative Identity Disorder, recovery, empowerment


This is the first collection of poems from young poet Alexandra Elkington. The poems provide an insight into the desperate world of mental health. They reflect Alex’s own experiences with mental health and the struggles of some of the amazing people she’s met along her journey so far. Some of the poems in this collection are written by those closest to Alex and express how her mental health affected their lives. Some poems are written under a section called the light; these poems were written to escape from the seriousness of reality and just to make someone at rock bottom smile, even for just a second. The book also contains some of the quotes Alex finds most inspirational, the ones the reminded her to persevere as perhaps, one day, I might find some light. The title of the book is derived from the saying ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’ A friend said it to Alex one afternoon and when she asked how long the tunnel was, they had no answer.

About the Author

Alexandra Elkington was born in Blackpool in 1993. She led what seemed to be a ‘normal’, fulfilling life up until her early teens in which she achieved high academic results and awards in her first passion kayaking. Around the age of 14 Alex began to struggle with her mental health, however at the age of 16 things took a turn for the worse and Alex was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and placed into a psychiatric hospital.

Alex was always interested in poetry, which always seemed strange to her mother as English was Alex’s least favourite subject in school, she wrote her first poem at the age of 6 about an alien and has written (always in rhyme) ever since.

It was only whilst in hospital that Alex’s poetry became so important in her life. It became a way to escape and dilute the intensity of any situation, if the problem was on paper and rhyming, it was organised and no longer in her head, like a filing system. Most importantly, it became a way to communicate. The symptoms of her disorder (Dissociative Identity Disorder) meant that Alex found it extremely difficult to talk to anyone that may be able to help in any way. Poetry however, was different. It was not direct communication and completely open to each individual’s interpretation,even though 9 times out of 10 the psychiatrists and consultants knew exactly the messagethe Alex was trying to get across.

Book Extract

1. The Tunnel at the Beginning of the Light

Someone once recited me the famous saying that there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. I simply replied by asking how long my tunnel was, to which they had no answer.

They say that at the end of every tunnel there’s a dazzling, sparkling light,
A happy, joyful, paradisiac life, warm, carefree and bright,
But first we have this tunnel, a dark and dismal track,
No clear choice moving forward and no point in travelling back,
Everyone’s tunnel is different, in length, width, colour and shade,
And no one truly knows what yours is like and so they cannot come to your aid,
Some tunnels are built like a treadmill, set to speeds no one could ever contend,
Always forced straight back to square one, if you ever get close to the end,
Others are tunnels of railings, a little bit of light at a time,
Others are steep and uphill with no foot holes up which you can climb,
Some may seem completely invisible, others, a huge shadow they cast,
Some may take decades to crawl through, others you can run through quite fast,
And perhaps it feels now never ending; perhaps we’re not even halfway,
But that light and warmth will surround us, somehow, somewhere, and someday.

2. It All Started Back In High School.

It all started back in high school – or at least I became aware,
That it wasn’t just me inside my head, there were other people there,
An angry one, a childish one, and then there was, well, me,
They took over my entire life – my mind, soul and body,
At first I just denied it – thought I was going mad,
That I’d got these things inside my head and no other people had,
But eventually they broke me and it was time to admit,
I wasn’t quite myself and my head had sort of split,
To start the childish one came out and just wanted to play,
Reacted like a three year old to what my mum would say,
Then next to surface was a mediator – the storm it tried to calm,
But found an answer through a blade which it then took to my arm,
This led me in to hospital where my story does begin,
On a battle with my D.I.D. which I wasn’t meant to win,
And once I was in hospital the angry one came out,
Tied things around my neck and made me kick and scream and shout,
And for seven months I lived like this - stuck inside a ward,
Like living in Big Brother except there wasn’t a reward,
People following me at arm’s length and trying to find out why,
I’ve got this angry alter-ego and it wants me to die,
But no-one had the answers - no one had a way,
To get me free from misery that I lived in every day,
So I got myself back home again through solely drive and fight,
And I’m ever more determined that I’ll find myself some light.

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This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 05 May, 2011.