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What Are Some Touching Poems About Depression?

Depression poetry conveys solace and an understanding of this illness and what people experience with it. Read four moving depression poems here.

Depression poems offer solace when you can find no comfort, human connection when all human connection seems lost, compassion when self-compassion isn’t one of your top emotions, and gentleness when all the world seems harsh. Even depression poetry that seems severe to an outsider is often tender to someone who feels adrift in the murky sea of depression.

Depression poetry is a healing art form. It’s a powerful form of treatment for a debilitating illness that robs people of the quality life they want to live and absolutely deserve. Poetry and all other creative endeavors are a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). These mental health treatment approaches are actions taken and things experienced in addition to or instead of traditional healing approaches like therapy and psychiatric medication. Frequently, people use poetry as part of their work with a mental health therapist, as a way to process roiling emotions that often remain trapped inside, deepening depression because they can’t escape. Other times, people write poetry on their own for the same reason.

Whether you read the works of others or write your own (or both), poetry can help you feel understood, that you’re not alone. Others experience, have experienced, the complex feelings of depression that can sometimes only be described abstractly. Depression poems help you understand, feel understood, and at the same time know that your experience is unique to you, similar to but different from what’s expressed through poetry.

These excerpts from works of poetry about depression show the depth of the style and the illness.

Excerpts from Touching Poems About Depression

From “Tulips,” by Sylvia Plath.

“The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe   
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.   
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down,   
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color,   
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.   
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,   
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow   
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,   
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.   
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.”

From “It was not Death, for I stood up,” by Emily Dickinson

“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.”

“Aperture,” by John Sibley Williams

I know the hinges give me away. To be this open
requires doors. Night-sealed, dead-bolted, rusted,
shedding blood-colored dust. Roughly the size of
the world, the world that enters is sweet as a head
of foam scraped off a teacup, unforgiving as an Old
Testament story. The god I used to think I was loved
pain. Distance. & starlings. He’d dare his bike faster
down unpaved paths & relish the fall. Show the scars
off to everyone at school. Invent entire mythologies
to explain the stars, where they go in winter. Where
my mother went. Silent house. & frostbite. The rest
was just a parable. A paraffin river. Holy. It’s simple
enough: where there is no memory, nothing happened.
So nothing that happened hurt. I’m not sure what
changed, but these days the doorframe shudders &
yields in certain weathers. The fence posts I had
hammered down remain a bit longer in place. Then
they give too. An empty house testifies to everything
it once held. Held or holding? Both in- or egress.

“A Lesson” by Lang Leav

There’s a girl who smiles all the time
    to show the world that she is fine.

A boy, who surrounds himself with friends,
    wishes that his life would end.

For those who say they never knew,
    the saddest leave the least of clues.

Depression poetry can be moving and oddly uplifting. When you know that this illness isn’t a personal flaw but is an experience lived by millions of people in all ages of history and corners of the globe, you can, as Emily Dickinson inspires, stand up.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2020, May 6). What Are Some Touching Poems About Depression?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/depression/what-are-some-touching-poems-about-depression

Last Updated: May 18, 2020

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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