The Voice of Mental Illness: A Poem

by Elizabeth Johnson

Every other moment, every other day, questions plague my brain
Intoxicated and delirious with pain
So I write, creating footprints with language
What am I going to do?
Really I’m asking; how do I keep going? How do I move on?
Can you help me?
Yet, I have no idea who I’m talking to. Who am I directing these questions to?
Making deals with the voice that tells me to stay in bed
So much chatter in matter
Some days I think I am speaking to God
Hoping I will get an answer, but I never do
Only the echoes of another question. Why I am here?
How long do I have to endure this?
My mouth is closed, but more chatter in matter
Not whispers, but monotone of fear.
All questions with blanket answers
Telling me that I will get through this and to keep going
Never explaining how, or where
Just continue to walk on the path that leads straight ahead
Falling off a cliff
Cliffhanging to life
Falling into the clouds of a deep sleep.
Only to be awakened with another question
The words wring the heart like a wet cloth
A fist to eat before sundown
Wondering was I under the influence
Or brave enough to sign off
And then I realize… these are not my last words

Photo: Shutterstock

Elizabeth Johnson uses writing as a tool for healing and working through feelings. She resides in Northern New Jersey, and works as a Suicide Prevention Specialist. You can visit some of her work on her personal blog at