Mental Illness Poems 

Mental Illness Poems (A Collection of Great Poems)

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 

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


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—
To justify—Despair.

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
I’m coming
I’m coming.


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.

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