The Mental Illness Poems we’ve chosen here were chosen because they have a central lesson that all of us can take away, such as realizing the challenges that relationships with mental illness present, the strength of community, and our own resiliency.
Mental Illness Poems
Just like artists effortlessly pick and mix colors on a canvas to create something beautiful, so do poets. Choosing and rearranging words on a page, give us the language we didn’t know we needed to describe our inner world.
Here we want to look specifically at poetry and with so many incredible poems out there on the subject, it’s difficult to choose which ones to share.
The Mental Illness Poems we’ve listed here were picked because they have an underlying lesson all of us can learn from, including understanding the realities of relationships with mental illness in tow, the power of community, and how resilient we are.
1. The Fire by Sarah Gray
The fire that rages
from within my rib cage is
weakening the bones
that should make me strong.
The feeling creeps for every dark place.
It fills up my head; it’s invading my space.
It’s melting me from inside; I think I’m burning up.
I can’t breathe or move or talk. I’m hopelessly stuck.
As people pass by, they give no second glance.
I cry out for help; this is my chance.
The fire claws at my throat; it’s burning my tongue.
I think it’s too late for help; the damage is done.
I down some water, which brings calmness and peace.
The fire has settled for a minute, at least.
Eventually it’s burning as hot as before.
The fire rages back up from my very core.
The fire inside is one you can’t see.
The fire inside, it’s my anxiety.
2. Another Breakdown by Shaydee A. Ault
It’s hard when you’re always lying,
Always hiding the way you feel.
Losing your sight on truthful words,
Forgetting what is real.
It’s hard when you forget to laugh
And you’re scared that someone might see.
Hoping no one saw your face,
As you struggle to remember how to breathe.
It’s hard to pretend you’re happy,
And you’re terrified someone might ask.
It’s becoming harder every day;
It’s becoming quite a task.
You feel when your body shakes,
As it searches for something to hold.
Though the temperature feels hot,
Your heart and mind feel cold.
Your throat feels like it’s closing,
And your legs feel like they’re weak.
You try your hardest to grasp a breath,
But there’s not even enough to speak.
Your hands remain unsteady,
And your heart pounds like a drum,
And even though you can barely walk,
You fight the urge to run.
You scream as the world starts spinning,
And your knees drop straight to the ground.
You realize in that moment
You’re just having another breakdown.
3. 2 People In 1 Body by Vanessa Kershaw
she is so similar, yet different in every way
I look in the mirror and we’re identical
yet inside tells a different story
at times she is my best friend
and others she is my worst enemy
I love her more than anything
yet I hate her so much
I wouldn’t change her for the world
but I wish she was different
we are so far apart
yet so close that we are united as one
we go by the same name
and have the same date of birth
we have the same DNA
and the same identity
we share everything
yet she is a complete stranger
- I Felt a Funeral in My Brain
- Mother Daughter Poems
- Aleister Crowley Poems
- Thinking of You Poems
- Spring Haiku Poems
4. It Was Not Death, For I Stood Up By Emily Dickinson
It was not Death, for I stood up,
And all the Dead, lie down—
It was not Night, for all the Bells
Put out their Tongues, for Noon.
It was not Frost, for on my Flesh
I felt Siroccos—crawl—
Nor Fire—for just my Marble feet
Could keep a Chancel, cool—
And yet, it tasted, like them all,
The Figures I have seen
Set orderly, for Burial,
Reminded me, of mine—
As if my life were shaven,
And fitted to a frame,
And could not breathe without a key,
And ’twas like Midnight, some –
When everything that ticked—has stopped—
And Space stares—all around—
Or Grisly frosts—first Autumn morns,
Repeal the Beating Ground—
But, most, like Chaos—Stopless—cool—
Without a Chance, or Spar—
Or even a Report of Land—
5. The Fury Of Rainstorms By Anne Sexton
The rain drums down like red ants,
each bouncing off my window.
The ants are in great pain
and they cry out as they hit
as if their little legs were only
stitched on and their heads pasted.
And oh they bring to mind the grave,
so humble, so willing to be beat upon
with its awful lettering and
the body lying underneath
without an umbrella.
Depression is boring, I think
and I would do better to make
some soup and light up the cave.
6. He Resigns By John Berryman
Age, and the deaths, and the ghosts.
Her having gone away
in spirit from me. Hosts
of regrets come and find me empty.
I don’t feel this will change.
I don’t want anything
or person, familiar or strange.
I don’t think I will sing
anymore just now,
or ever. I must start
to sit with a blind brow
above an empty heart.
7. The Swimming Lesson By Mary Oliver
Feeling the icy kick, the endless waves
Reaching around my life, I moved my arms
And coughed, and in the end saw land.
Somebody, I suppose,
Remembering the medieval maxim,
Had tossed me in,
Had wanted me to learn to swim,
Not knowing that none of us, who ever came back
From that long lonely fall and frenzied rising,
Ever learned anything at all
About swimming, but only
How to put off, one by one,
Dreams and pity, love and grace, –
How to survive in any place.
8. Depression By Alison Pick
I come by it honestly,
an heirloom passed
from my father
and grandmother before me.
In the bed by the window
she stares at the ceiling,
pills untouched on the dresser.
Cancer uncurls in her brain.
She says she feels nothing,
the heavy deadness
which also weighs me down.
Don’t worry, love, depression comes
and then goes. Soon
it will be over.
She says this to me.
And to herself.
Little Stones at My Window
for roberto and adelaida
9. Once in a while by Mario Benedetti
Joy throws little stones at my window
it wants to let me know that it’s waiting for me
but today I’m calm
I’d almost say even-tempered
I’m going to keep anxiety locked up
and then lie flat on my back
which is an elegant and comfortable position
for receiving and believing news
who knows where I’ll be next
or when my story will be taken into account
who knows what advice I still might come up with
and what easy way out I’ll take not to follow it
don’t worry, I won’t gamble with an eviction
I won’t tattoo remembering with forgetting
there are many things left to say and suppress
and many grapes left to fill our mouths
don’t worry, I’m convinced
joy doesn’t need to throw any more little stones
- A Mother’s Love Poem
- Mother to Son Poems
- Poems for Family and Friends
- Lovely Valentines Poems
- Poems on Father
10. The Soul has Bandaged moments (360) by Emily Dickinson
The Soul has Bandaged moments –
When too appalled to stir –
She feels some ghastly Fright come up
And stop to look at her –
Salute her, with long fingers –
Caress her freezing hair –
Sip, Goblin, from the very lips
The Lover – hovered – o’er –
Unworthy, that a thought so mean
Accost a Theme – so – fair –
The soul has moments of escape –
When bursting all the doors –
She dances like a Bomb, abroad,
And swings opon the Hours,
As do the Bee – delirious borne –
Long Dungeoned from his Rose –
Touch Liberty – then know no more,
But Noon, and Paradise –
The Soul’s retaken moments –
When, Felon led along,
With shackles on the plumed feet,
And staples, in the song,
The Horror welcomes her, again.
These, are not brayed of Tongue –
Self-expression and creativity can support us when it comes to processing and coping with mental health problems, but sometimes we all need a helping hand.
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Daily Time Poems.