Romanticize vs. Ostracize: Perceptions of Mental Illness

The following two poems are written from the perspective of someone who doesn’t understand mental illness. In no way are these my views; I just wanted to expose the harmful perceptions of depression that far too many people hold — the romanticization of mental illness, and the complete disregard for it.

she sees the world for what it is
in smiles
across her skin

in black she feels
and the red she steals
for the colors smudged against the glass
form wilting words that can’t express
the beast that lives within us all
the beast for which she bends her neck

and only she
can see
it rise

a shadow looming over the jar

claws raking
‘cross the
sloping walls
heart racing
as it
roars for more

there’s beauty in her loneliness
there’s art within her fear

she paints it
low and gentle
while inside
she wracks and rears

upon her lips there lives a moan
but her eyes house only light

I can see her turmoil turning
and to me
it seems
so right

she sees the world for what it is
and what it is
is what we are

undone by the years
to the turning earth

but most do not accept it
most are blind and bare

but she
she sees her
she sees her

and to combat the encroaching vines
she makes the strongest sacrifice

her skin is what enslaves
her to
the beast that lives within us all
the beast that she must force to fall
and break the glass that lines the walls

there’s beauty in her hopelessness
there’s art within her pain

she cannot cry
but that’s all right
for I
hear only

she bends her neck
to vice
and I shake my head
for knowing

she walks on legs thick as trees
she talks like a hundred buzzing bees
she lives free from natural disease


she bends her neck
to vice
you’d think at most just
once or twice
unhappiness breeds in humanity
minus, of course, the insanity


she bends her neck
to grief
the bell jar is
the thief
that stole her life up on a shelf

but I know the ways of mystery
and here’s an illusion she can’t see

the only thief

fragile flower
shadowy beast
mere words
that reach
for sympathy
that I would give
to a crippled man
a withered old woman
a dying lad

but she
she lives for sympathy
for sunlight
on her mangled weeds

and I
I won’t give sympathy
until she stands up and agrees
to build a bridge and break for land
for she can’t drown
in nothing but
and to smash the glass
that she pretends
torments her
to no end

there is an
she makes the

because everything else
is just

© 2015 Stellular Scribe

Preening- an original poem

"Depression- loneliness is a silent killer" by Kirsti Ottem Langeland
Depression- loneliness is a silent killer” by Kirsti Ottem Langeland

I’m an expert at preening.

No, not hair-grooming and lip-smacking and nose-powdering
and all those kinds of skin-creaming schemings-
I’m an expert at forming a facade,
varnishing a veneer,
preening a pretense, if you will.

I’ve got a ripe, rosy smile. See? I’m smiling at you now.
Look at it, all pink and upturned and rigid.
It’s like a Barbie doll got a hold of Botox
and went to town on my lips.
Now I’m always smiling. Can’t help it.
But ain’t my beam a beaut?

I dress nice, I talk nice, I walk nice;
am nice, with my carefully inserted giggles
and carefully crossed legs and carefully straightened posture-
you probably wouldn’t guess that I practice my laugh
in the mirror, ’cause it’s just so aerated and elated,
a chiming chuckle born and raised in my breast.

Persona preening isn’t just a personal pastime of mine.
I take it seriously with my morning coffee
(two sugars, hold the milk),
and tend to it with brittle fingers throughout the day.
I’m good at giving a guise,
real good, and though on some days
my lips wilt and eyes twitch and shoulders slump,
I can always wring it around with sugary sweet smirk
and assurance that no, I’m fine, thank you.
I’m perfectly ok.


Can You See Me? – an original poem

Hiding” by Photodream Art

Can you see me
over here
in my little box?
I know it’s dark,
but if you squint,
and tilt your head,
and call my name-
I’m sure you’ll see.

Can you hear me
through the boards
of my little box?
I know they’re thick,
but if you knock,
and pry the wood,
and train your ear,
I’m sure you’ll hear.

Can’t you see me
in my little box?
I’m trapped, you see,
and there’s no
air here to breathe.
Why can’t you
see me?

Can’t you hear me
in my little box?
I’m scared, you see,
and my voice
is drowned in the dark.
Why can’t you
hear me?