Keep Walking, Don’t Worry

keep getting up before the sun

keep your wit

but make sure it’s secret

until you’re able to trust again

it’s okay

if you don’t know the difference

for a little while

take a walk down the railroad tracks

behind your parents’ house

stare at your boots

feel small and upset

beside the vastness

of the dead swamp

the 1997 family photo stays in the front pocket

of your blue jeans

mother, father, two daughters, a family wedding

remember the tantrum before the plaid jumper

the white socks, the Mary Janes

as if you need such a stark reminder

that past self preserved

now broad shoulders have filled out

the cracking voice

the scruffy chin

the court date

now you are more yourself

than you were

when you were five years old

trying to fall asleep

in purple Pocahontas sheets

wishing towards Sirius

praying on your knees

to a God you’ve never met

that tomorrow

would be a tomorrow

with groves of aspen

golden lion’s mane

and concrete

be thankful that everything is different

that you didn’t give in

to temptation

but keep listening to sad songs

shake the dust

watch the robins

smoke before bed

take sleeping pills

don’t worry about it

visit the ocean

please remember

the tide will always recede.


This poem was submitted by our friend Cal. Cal is a queer and agender mixed media artist and poet from Boston. You can visit Cal’s Instagram page here, and read more of this beautiful work by visiting his website here.

Always remember that you are not alone.

You are loved.

AC

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Societal Stigmas, Gender Norms, and their Effect on Mental Health

Something that has become increasingly bothersome to me, and I’m sure many of you, are the stigmas that society has put in place. Whether the stigmas affect those struggling with mental health, those who do not identify as a binary gender or sexuality, or those of a particular ethnic group, nationality, or religion, society has a way of creating these cookie-cutter-type images of what we are supposed to look and act like. Even though these images are near-to-impossible to recreate, we are often brutally shamed for not meeting these expectations.

We see this in visual ad campaigns where female models are stick thin, oversexualized, and often being dominated by men, and where male models are tall, dark, and rugged, often sporting a six-pack and bulging muscles.  We see this when people of the LGBTQIA community are bullied and murdered for not dressing like the gender they were assigned at birth, for publicly holding hands with someone of the same sex, and for simply not having the desire to hold anyone’s hand. We see this when people are attacked both verbally and physically for identifying with a particular religion, when people of a certain race or ethnicity are targeted and not given the same opportunities as others simply based on the color of their skin, and we see it when people who happen to look similar to whomever is labeled as “the enemy” at that point in time are attacked. And as we know, we see this when the topic of mental health is pushed further and further down on the agenda and people are told that their conditions are “all in their heads,” that their dire needs cannot be met because “other people have it worse,” and that it’s “not as bad” as a physical health condition.

Article dear hope