13 Poems For Bad Mental Health Days

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There’s something about autumn that makes me crave poetry. Maybe it’s residual, first day of school nostalgia; maybe it’s that pesky seasonal affective disorder creeping in and begging for the emotional immediacy of a well written stanza. Either way, there are few things I'd rather do on a tough day than sit in the sun and leaf through a poetry collection. If you, too, turn to poetry in difficult times, here are 13 poems for bad mental health days.

If it feels like poetry is suddenly, gloriously cool, you’re not imagining things. According to a study by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released this summer, poetry is more popular than ever, thanks, at least in part, to social media. Poetry reading among 18-24 year olds has more than doubled over the last five years, according to the NEA’s 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, from 8.2 percent in 2012 to 17.5 percent in 2017. Americans as a whole are reading the most poetry since the study was established more than 15 years ago.

Poetry has become a coping mechanism for millennials, a way of articulating complicated feelings. And even if you're not the one writing the poetry, you can still hold the words to wallow in, to work through and overcome some of your darker moments.

'Diving Into the Wreck' by Adrienne Rich

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"I came to explore the wreck.

The words are purposes.

The words are maps.

I came to see the damage that was done

and the treasures that prevail."

'Perennials' by Maggie Smith

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"Let us praise the girl

who lives in what they call

a transitional neighborhood—

another way of saying not dead?"

'Ongoing' by Jenny Xie

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"Never mind the distances traveled, the companion she made of herself. The threadbare twenties not to be underestimated. A wild depression that ripped from January into April. And still she sprouts an appetite."

'For women who are difficult to love' by Warsan Shire

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"you can't make homes out of human beings

someone should have already told you that

and if he wants to leave

then let him leave

you are terrifying

and strange and beautiful

something not everyone knows how to love."

'natural' by Nayyirah Waheed

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"expect sadness

like

you expect rain.

both

cleanse you.

- natural"

'what love isn't' by Yrsa Daley-Ward

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"it is weight

it is weight and it is too heavy to feel good sometimes. It is discomfort - it is not what the films say. Only songs

get it right"

'Hope is a thing with feathers' Emily Dickinson

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'"Hope' is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all -"

'To Prisoners' by Gwendolyn Brooks

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"I call for you cultivation of strength in the dark.

Dark gardening

in the vertigo cold.

in the hot paralysis.

Under the wolves and coyotes of particular silences.

Where it is dry.

Where it is dry."

'A House Called Tomorrow' by Alberto Rios

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"You are not fifteen, or twelve, or seventeen—You are a hundred wild centuries

And fifteen, bringing with you

In every breath and in every step

Everyone who has come before you,

All the yous that you have been"

'An Old Story' by Tracy K. Smith

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"Then animals long believed gone crept down

From trees. We took new stock of one another.

We wept to be reminded of such color."

'The Summer Day' by Mary Oliver

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"Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

'Someday I'll Love Ocean Vuong' by Ocean Vuong

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The most beautiful part of your body

is where it’s headed. & remember,

loneliness is still time spent

with the world.”