To mark World Mental Health Day 2017, we have produced a collaboration of poems, art and commentary from various writers and artists. We feel these contribute to raising awareness of what it feels like to have mental health issues.
It Really Is Okay- A poem By Rosie Meyer
Two days ago I was taking big steps
That day I reached my goal
I was able to cover a lot of ground
And I felt in control
Two days ago my goal was achievable
And I had quite a bit of help
I was well prepared and I took my time
And I felt good about myself
Yesterday I stumbled and fell
And I was overwhelmed for the whole day
I tried to get ahead of myself
And made no progress along the way
Yesterday my goals were ridiculous
And I had no help at all
I expected far too much of myself
And it slowed me down to a crawl
Today I’m taking baby steps
I’m just going with the flow
I’m making more progress than yesterday
But it’s going kind of slow
Today I haven’t set much for goals
Just one-to make it through the day
And even though I haven’t worked much
I still feel okay
Some days I’ll feel like I’m on top
I’ll feel tall and my steps will be long
Some days I’ll feel like I’m crawling
And I just need to be strong
Some days I’ll feel scattered
Unaware of where I’m going
And some days I’ll be inspired
With creativity and knowledge flowing
On the days I need to catch my breath
I need to realize, I can’t run all day, every day
And when I need to slow down a bit
It really is okay.
Words by Rachael Lamb
A Poem By Anonymous Writer
That crushing feeling in my chest,
Never gives itself a rest.
Constant thoughts race through my mind,
Why can’t I relax, unwind?
Anxiety affects me every day,
Why won’t it just go away?
The panic, the feelings of despair,
Those irrational thoughts, they’re always there.
Why am I filled with so much dread?
I want these thoughts out of my head!
Such an awful feeling of unease,
Anxiety; just go away, please.
Art by Caitlyn Johns
A poem by an Anonymous Writer
No one understands or knows our pain, why do we feel like this again?
We toss and turn, we can’t sleep at night, we always think of giving up the fight.
Yes, the demon is certainly back, it makes us helplessly steer off track.
We say and do things we don’t mean at all, sometimes we feel good but most times we fall.
That’s what feeling this way does, we always end up thinking ‘why is it us?’
But we’d never wish it upon anybody else, because depression is well and truly hell.
This black cloud lingers above our head, we lie at night wishing we were dead.
Lonely, scared and worthless too, negative things we think are true.
Because depression feeds on our hopeless thoughts, it wraps us up until we are caught;
Among the hell we call our life, it sometimes makes us reach for the knife.
So we can feel a release of pain, it’s the only thing that keeps us sane.
It makes us feel we’re in control, makes us feel like we are whole.
Other people think that we are mad, but they don’t know that we’re just sad.
Until the day we start to grow stronger, we find our happiness is lasting longer.
All we need is a little glimpse of hope, that will help make us realise that we can cope.
Depression is an illness people hardly understand, so let’s get together and make a plan;
We need to make people more aware, so they can support us and just be there,
To help us through our darkest days, as depression affects people in many ways.
Young or old, boy or girl, anyone can be subject to this hell.
So please help us get this message through; We’re normal people just like you.
Art by Taylor ~ Sixth Circle Art
Freedom To Be Me
A poem by Lisa Mulholland
I am the one who isn’t enough
I am the one who is too much
The one chastised for things I didn’t mean
So much so that now I have no self esteem
Always apologising, taking ownership
Of responsibilities that aren’t mine
Maybe it’s because it’s easier than being wrong all the time
I stand a better chance of being liked
When my mask is on and I pretend to smile
But what about what others don’t see?
The tears and the turmoil
The fear of being me
I cannot and will not prove everyone right
I swallow my words and sit tight
I sit on my hands so no one can see
That I pick my hands until they bleed. Pulling the strands of my hair, surely that would make people stare?
That’s not acceptable in this day and age
Not the way a mother of three
So I put my mask on. I push down the tears And hope that no one notices; my long list of fears
No one can see, my cough helps disguise The bile rising from my throat, the stinging in my eyes
When someone looks at me with a frown
I just say “I’m tired”
And I smile And it works for now
It covers the terror, the panic
And the fear. Of all the things I can’t make sense of. Or don’t want to hear
I don’t understand what their expressions mean
So I’ve learned to smile and look keen
And replay it all while I’m alone. All the bits I did wrong, I hope it didn’t show
It’s too much sometimes
And I want to hide
I need to be better tomorrow. To work on my disguise
Right now my transformation
Is almost complete
From shy anxious girl. To woman of the world
There are two me’s
The one you that you see
And the other for those Unlucky enough to get close
Maybe one day
I’ll fully be able
To transform myself And in private be stable
Tomorrow will be better
I tell myself each night
Tomorrow I will learn
How to get it all right
To calm those butter flies
To stop those skipped beats
Until next time
Until I am free
Free to be brave enough to be me
Art by Taylor ~ Sixth Circle Art
Life – A poem by Rachael Lamb
Life is tough
The days the nights
The long darkness of my mind nothing can override
The days too are long but they are light nothing can erase the fright.
What do you do?
Where do you turn?
When you your living a lesson no one can learn.
You get up each day
Prepared to fight
Prepared to battle
Prepared to win
But all you want is peace
Is that such a sin?
You make others smile
But don’t own your own
For your smile is broken
Its not coming home .
Who do you turn to?
Where do you go?
When you’re feeling so lonely and don’t feel at home.
Your body is whole
But your soul incomplete
If only people could see
The invisible wounds on your feet ,
Your hands that are broken
From holding on tight
Because of the terrors
Taking hold in the night.
Your eyes they smile
But behind your eyes
Are floods of tears
That you cried in the night.
It takes time they say
To stop feeling this way
But when will it happen
Nobody knows what to say.
Words by Rachael Lamb
Why Are You Tired?
By Rosie Meyer
Chances are, you know someone with a mental disorder or disability and you’ve probably asked them this or thought this before.
This statement, “I’m tired” is not a complaint or pessimistic. It’s merely a fact of life.
Allow me to explain why a person who is constantly battling their own brain and societal expectations feel so drained.
These are people whose brains are stuck in overdrive and have a great amount of difficulty unwinding to fall asleep at night. For the average person, it takes 7 minutes to fall asleep.
Imagine crawling into bed exhausted and it takes an average of an hour to fall asleep instead of 7 minutes. Every nap and bathroom break and the brain relaxation delay begins again.
These are people whose sleep is frequently disturbed and who spend their nights tossing and turning instead of resting. Sometimes they’re awoken by noises, pain, an inability to keep body parts still, by loud noises inside of their heads, vivid dreams and many other reasons.
These are people who wake up feeling, at best, slightly more rested than they were when they crawled into bed in the first place…like a battery that has been damaged that never seems to recharge properly.
These are people, who for decades, don’t feel rested after their slumber.
These are people who put an immense amount of effort into focusing on the task that they’re supposed to do or perform while their minds are trying to carry them down other paths or while they are struggling to remember just what those tasks are.
These are are people with working memory issues who from school age on into adulthood, lack the skill to remember multi-step instructions in a world where they’re just expected to know how to do it.
These are people who are in a constant war with their own brain. People who are battling their own thoughts and fears; hearing every day from their brains that they aren’t good enough, strong enough, skinny enough, that people don’t like them, or that they should have done better…just to list a few things.
These are people who are in a constant war with other people’s judgement and lack of understanding.
Who are often asked questions or who hear comments like “Why are you always tired?”, “Just suck it up and deal with it.”, “It’s just a lack of discipline.”, “It’s all in your head.”, “Stop being so pessimistic.” and “Stop being so lazy.”
These are people who experience sensory overload that mentally exhausts them. From the clothing they are expected to wear, the food that they are expected to eat, the noise around them, the sights engulfing them and the odors surrounding them, these people’s senses are constantly under attack.
These are people who are exhausted from self-advocating to people who don’t understand and don’t care to understand.
These are people who spend most of every day dealing with fears that others find silly and irrational.
It’s like living on a rope bridge swaying in the wind over a canyon while you’re afraid of heights and hearing “I don’t understand what you’re complaining about, the bridge is secure. Suck it up and deal with it. I can do it, so you can too.”
These are people who are struggling to communicate their experiences because communications is a skill that needs to be taught and exercised. It’s like those who don’t have a strong artistic talent being instructed to create a sculpture using the items around you to present how they currently feel within the next five minutes.
These are people who expel a large amount of energy trying to understand body language and emotions which is another lagging skill. It would be like showing you a picture of my cat and expecting you to identify what he’s feeling based on his facial expression and pose within minutes, multiple times a day.
How is this kitten feeling?
These are people who are tired from the side effects of medication or self-medicating to cope with the symptoms of their diagnosis and the expectations of society.
These are people who are struggling with their brain to differentiate what’s real and what’s not because their brains present everything to them as reality.
These are people who are likely to be struggling with relationships, drug abuse and alcoholism.
These are people who have physical manifestations from their mental struggles because being on high alert takes a physical toll on a person.
These are people whose muscles ache constantly or whose muscles are tired from being tense too often, who get frequent headaches or migraines, who’s appetite is affected and whose immune system becomes impaired…just to name a few things.
So please, dear readers, the next time someone with an invisible disability says that they’re tired, don’t treat them as if they’re lazy or irrational.
Instead, imagine living your life on a rope bridge over a canyon, or imagine how you would feel if someone jabbed you and woke you up several times a night for just one year and the physical and mental impact it would have on you.
I beg of you, on behalf of all of us fighting our own silent battles, please be patient and empathetic. Just because you don’t experience it doesn’t mean that it’s not a reality for someone else.
If you would like to know more about World Mental Health Day or get involved please visit: