This months collection of poetry focuses on the extremely important subject of mental health and wellbeing. This showcase is coming to you mid exam season – and for a good reason – to show that you’re not in this alone! So, without further ado, on with the poems…
I like to plan things.
Lists, spreadsheets, notebooks,
My best friends.
I plan to procrastinate,
I organise to postpone the deadlines
that loom over me.
Every year I give myself a plan,
Every year I fail to stick to it.
Every year I set myself targets,
targets too difficult for any normal human being to achieve.
Work on all three courseworks in one day,
Get a draft of each done by the end of term.
I make new targets.
You’d think they’d be more sensible,
they should be more sensible.
Okay, no draft by the holiday,
Plans by this Sunday
Drafts by Christmas day.
Christmas Day comes and goes,
The drafts still don’t exist.
Panic sets in.
Here we see the true horrors of academia,
A world which can take the content you love,
and suffocate it.
Suffocate it with deadlines, worry, stress.
‘I just want a first’ I cry,
Yet three years earlier loving the subject was enough.
Now, nothing is ever enough.
As the deadlines grow closer,
the panic grows stronger,
the worry intensifies.
And worse, it affects not only me,
but those around me.
My loved ones watch as I deteriorate,
and though they try to console me,
all they get in return is angry outbursts,
and too-late apologies.
Then they remind me to breathe.
A 1st isn’t the end of the world,
no matter how much I may crave it.
A 1st isn’t worth it if at the end,
my mentality crumbled because of it.
I know I’m not alone in this despicable mindset,
It’s not just me who sacrifices mental wellbeing
for a piece of paper which says nothing more than
‘You wrote a few good essays, congratulations’.
Though they say a strong degree opens many doors,
No doors open to someone who lacks the strength to pull the handle.
So, I beg of you, breathe.
Take a step back, make some tea.
Go for a walk, play that video game you’ve been longing for.
Put down the textbook, pick up the fantasy.
Indulge in your creativity,
and come back only when you’re refreshed.
When you’ve had a chance to breathe.
I know you’ll get it done,
I know you’ll succeed.
But when the stress gets too high,
please, put aside the work,
and remember to breathe.
Fleeting twitch grab on to stems,
Pull them from the ground.
Forget about the flowers that will grow.
Naughty fingers, teasing tips
Which grab and tug and plough
Forgetting of the hated it will sew.
These thorny rows
These tangled tresses
These loose rolls of barbed wire
Will forever sprout from me
I will forever fail to flower.
A Poem About Mental Health
How do I tell you
this straight A* student who has it all together
has to study
has to keep it together
so organised there’s even time slots
for me to cry
won’t let anyone see
I broke down between lectures
for the third time today. But clearly I’m coping
if I can turn up,
motivated solely by this weight stealing my breath
from between my collarbones
dragged into the ground by guilt, for fifty thousand grand of debt
I ought to be
Parents’ voices down the phone line
ask ‘How are you?’
Always fine, tell them you’re fine/I’m so sick
lying became default.
Anxiety robs me of the ability to speak out
against it. Instead, in bed mid-afternoon
and after a couple hours the tide leaves you
completely hollow. Nothing
to feel, loneliness the only company left
when all you know is emptiness.
Encouragement in Times of Self-Doubt
Novels and textbooks
A thousand dead-eyed looks
Relax your mind
After you feed your brain
And take a step backward
From the exam-season strain.
We’re in the flight of it all
I feel your plight for it still
When the words are swimming
But not making sense
And time is ticking
But you’re all but spent.
Escape from Hallward
Or where else
Take a bath
And deal with the day’s aftermath…
I’ll be your friendly reminder
The one to say
It’ll all work out
Tomorrows another day.
To get your work featured, send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or message Esther Kearney via Facebook.
Featured image courtesy of Georgia Butcher.
Image use licence here.