Mental Health

A poem by Chelsea Megan James, Pukekohe High School , one of the Top 10 entries in the Masters category (Year 11-13) of The Art of Science Competition 2020

“Stop shaking.” “You seem different.” “Don’t overthink it.” “You’re quiet.”

“How are you?”


“I’m hurt, upset, broken, alone, angry, frustrated, depressed, anxious, tired, misunderstood, crushed, giving up. I’m screaming out ‘someone help me!’ but no one hears. I’m crying but no one sees. I’m hiding behind this mask, creating an illusion for society to believe.”


My depression is like a thick fog.
It holds my hand pushing me backwards,
Walking me through sinking mud.
My depression is drowning.

It swallows me breathless,
While I watch everyone else breathing.
My depression is a demon.
It leaves me in a deep rest of exhaustion.

Holding the struggling weight,
Of my own identity.
This mental illness never sleeps.
I am defined by my unhappiness.

Disapproving of my smile;
Rather accepting my fears.
I am fighting this battle alone.
It’s like a constant war against myself.

Against my own identity.
My mind is something I no longer control;
It controls me.
This illness is something only I can feel.

It’s like a constant cry,
For help that doesn’t reach out.
My anxiety is a clone,
It makes a little moan.

It’s a constant imbalance.
Between the sweaty palms
And the shaky knees.
My anxiety is strong.

It’s the feeling of having
A mini heart attack,
When missing a step on the stairs.
Yet the missed step in every footprint.

Leaving a permanent marking,
Allowing the overwhelming heart attack
Feeling to accelerate.
The voices stop and my heart drops.

It creates a little whisper,
“don’t leave now, you’ll be the first”
“but don’t go last, you’ll look like the worst.”
My Amygdala never sleeps.

It watches the clock,
Tick… 12 am…1am….tock.
The drowning thoughts,
I’m not good enough.

It causes panic.
The shaky feeling just makes me
Look like I’m shivering
Even in Summer.

My anxiety is friends with my depression,
It is the sensation of being scared
And tired at the same time.
My anxiety creates fear.

The fear of being a failure.
My depression is the block which
Stops the urge of
Ever being positive.

“Just one more bite,
Surely it won’t hurt?”
My bulimia yells in my ear.
It created the effect to self-soothe.

Having a large intake of food.
My eating disorder helps silence
The untenable thoughts,
As well as feelings.

My bulimia has friends,
Anorexia and binge eating.
My anorexia counts numbers,
It stops food coming in.

It’s the feeling of being in control.
I stare blankly at the food.
Counting each calorie and replying with,
“No thanks, I’m not hungry.”

It’s the feeling of guilt,
with every bite, I attempt to take.
This appearance of mine is just,
The subtle reminder that I’ll never be good enough.

Binge, purge, binge, purge, binge, purge.
It becomes a way of life.
It’s the feeling of filling the emptiness with food.
I don’t mean to be rude.

All these mental illnesses;
yet there’s still a stigma.
My mental health is haunting.
This isn’t the life I’m wanting.