4 poems that highlight the importance of mental health
In honour of World Mental Health Day, we urge you to take a minute of action in whatever way makes the most sense to you. We’ve pulled together a few poems that serve as a gentle reminder to spread awareness, show love, and above all—remind us that we are not alone. Assume all trigger warnings.
‘FIXING THINGS’ by VIMAL SANGAM
in my home, we never repair things
the flickering light bulbs,
the bathroom tiles,
the squeaky doors
in my home, we believe
that nothing is really broken
as long as it is functional,
that ceramic coffee mug chipped
right where Pa’s lips touch
still finds it’s place
in the glass cabinet with
Ma’s most prized crockery,
how the light switch has
five dusty brown duct tapes
stuck against the edges
making a sad scratch
every time we press it,
you see there is a jigsaw puzzle
lying in our attic
with half of the pieces lost
but we still keep it because
some day we’ll put it together
and now all of my edges
are frayed in trying
to put this family together,
I don’t fit anywhere, anymore
in my home, we have
the creaking cupboards,
the torn bedsheets,
that jar whose lid just won’t fit right
our photo frame hanging
on a loose nail,
the stains on the carpet,
the toaster that half burns
every goddamn slice of bread,
my parents’ marriage,
all of it running on a belief
that it’s okay as long as
no one sees it
the cracks on the floor
or the ones in their relationship
the spoilt milk in the refrigerator
breeding lovelessness as
their tongues wage day and night
like clanking of the utensils
in the kitchen sink
in my home, we never mend
things until they’re dragged to give up
and today as I’m twenty two,
tired of being the duct tape
in the brokenness of this house,
tired of regretting a childhood
spent in darkness because
they were too busy haggling
about who’d switch the light on
I realise it is me who needs fixing now
so instead, when the guests arrive
we shove the broken plates
to the back
throw Oriental rugs over
the walls flaking off,
make love the harbinger
of dysfunctional bonds
and hide our torn selves
behind a glorious smile
that switches the light on
and laughs when they look
at the family photo and say-
‘oh what a happy picture!’
‘Another reason to go on living’ by Swati barik
My mother asks me why do I
Give my poems names
Like wheelchair, a crutch,
A one bedroom beating heart
Why can’t i call them
something prettier, softer,
less sick and more
alive or simple literary devices
that carry my sad
around when it gets bored inside
It’s home, or when restlessness
locks itself out of my mind,
It doesn’t happen often
But it happens.
What she means to ask
But is too afraid to is
Can you not put yourself
on display like that?
You’re drawing the wrong crowd.
Most of the days i sneer at them,
The questions i mean.
Or the crowd
( depends on what day it is)
A girl gone feral is a girl alone
But today is a question mark
Shaped freckle resting in the
crook of my arm with the IV needle
And time is throwing rocks at my window,
so before the tapping stops
Let me tell you that this poem right here,
is a gas mask
A tiny piece of tech miracle
A small rebellion against death’s tyranny,
This poem will make paper swans
out of your discarded suicide notes
and teach them how to fly
so that your friends can find you on time,
This poem thinks you’re beautiful
Even on the days you don’t wash your hair
or shower because inside the blanket
is a dark you feel safe in,
This poem will say i love you back
Exactly seventy three times and
will not be afraid to hold your hand
in dimly lit parking lots,
This poem will not cancel plans,
This poems thinks love is coming,
is just around the corner and
is one call away.
This poem will dial the number.
This poem will help you
on the days medicine will fall short,
On the days you’re the only person
In your one bedroom beating heart
And the walls start to close in on you
This poem will be there to
paint the cabinets yellow,
it’ll let the sunshine in,
This poem will kiss you behind the ear
and rub that spot on your back
you can’t quite reach
when you’re nauseous
This poem will love you,
If it still doesn’t sound pretty
Think of it like like this
This poem is just
Another reason to go on living
In a long list of reasons
For one more day
‘INCOMMUNICADO’ by ARITRI SHAH
“Talk to someone”
Seems like a hollow sticker
Pasted on too many walls
For a mind
That’s calling ‘May Day’
How many bodies
In the river
Does it take
We’re not built of the steel we claim?
How many autopsies
Till our minds are cut open
To the possibility of feeling?
How long should someone be asphyxiated
For us to know
That they’d been choking
Your concerned friend
Swallows the lies you laid out for breakfast.
An “I’m fine” with a dash of smile
Dressed in the apology
For your existence.
The ‘someone’ you’re supposed to talk to
Doesn’t seem to understand
Why the weight of the world
Seems to descend upon your chest.
Sits cross-legged across you
And pleads you to tell her
What plagues your mind.
And just when you begin mouthing a river
The sea of judgements
Now your lungs are blue from advice
And rock bottom
Seems like a cozy bed
Where drowning is a lullaby
To the bases of the icebergs.
If at all sunbeams kiss water,
Your shipwrecks learn to walk in daylight
But the nights
The nights are for sinking.
‘GRIEVING MILLENNIALS’ by smita singh
we teenagers paperclip our sadness onto the art wall and like to call it an abandoned masterpiece. our language and estrangement is a newlywed couple who was forced into a marriage of collateral damage by abuse. they say if we visit a therapist, we’d violate the community guidelines of our mother tongue, which only knows one sentence—”log kya kahenge, beta” and it’s ironical how the ‘society’s voice’ [lullaby sung against human mercy] shapeshifts into our own parents’ so we pretend to eat communalism, fascism, homophobia, bullying, rape and everything inhuman and bury down questions like “maa, aren’t ‘we’ the society?” beneath our condensating foot soles.
we teenagers are scared and furious poets cursed to exist without metaphors—we compare our mother’s lap with a mournful ocean bed and pray to a faceless god to drown in its inexistence. our knees shudder like collapsing cosmopolitan cities due to pandemics with every “are you okay?” question so we say, “yes, we are” and do not tell them about how these days, our laughter sounds like ambulance sirens carrying foreseen death news and how we post aesthetic ig stories of the sunlit sky while gulping frozen sunrise in the darkest corner of our room.
we are young and they tell us that we are easy to be molded into our dreamlike beliefs so we name our lover’s skin, a Vrindavan street aftermath of Janmashtmi celebration—ruined yet serene and ourselves, a Banaras ghat where the dead resides reeking of unholy explosions. this is ‘love’ for us—romanticizing polaroids of melting sandcastles until the other person leaves us for wombing too much emptiness.
every time we reach our birthday, we cut cakes with our weapon-like shoulder blades and manage to speak “thank you” to “God bless you” wishes from our violence-dripping throats. on most days, self-love for us, feels like a stranger wounding our fleshyard that looks a lot like assault. at nights, our body defragments into pieces we try to fix in the most ‘acceptable’ way—by denying that we are broken. we wonder and worry about falling skyscrapers while there is a whole hometown within us waiting to be visited.
#World Mental Health Day , 2021
Some of the most common mental health conditions, depression and anxiety, can be treated with talking therapies, medication, or a combination of these.
Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons. Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language.
Try meditating, Mindfulness and/or prayer. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your mental health, state of mind and outlook on life.
Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule. Alter your jogging route, plan a road-trip, take a walk in a different park, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant.
Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives.
Handpicked poems from June 2021
This poem will make paper swans out of your discarded suicide notes
The absence of a poem by Resham Sharma