“I can’t breathe…. I feel like my stomach is churning at a hundred k’s an hour and my vision is blurred.”
This is just one example of the many times that I would experience panic attacks and deep feelings of anxiety. This was a daily experience for many years and I wondered if it was possible to live any different. Could I really break free? Was there hope? Often, I find that the biggest problem with mental illness in children is the lack of information or education about it. Contrary to the popular belief that a child should not and could not have a care in the world, statistics show that 1 in 35 young people between the ages of 4-17 experience a mental health disorder. Often, the young person may not realise that they have a mental health issue and often withdraw into thinking, “I am the only one.” I wrote this poem as both to raise awareness of mental health in children and also to share the hope that it is possible to heal.
“I am the only one”
Breathe short. Mouth dry.
Don’t know which one’s worse, it’s a tie.
Pain in my stomach and pain in my head.
The never ending cycle of fear and dread.
It was an intruder that lived in my mind,
how it all started is even harder to find.
But the day it got worse I felt that I died
And then there was silence and finally peace of mind.
See, it didn’t come by mind over matter
Cause every time I did that I’d come back worse,
always the mad hatter.
And saying I’ll do better tomorrow was more of a grim joke
A product of yesterday, one big ugly hoax.
But then in my lowest of lows,
When I finally rolled over from laying face down.
There right beside me, was a familiar face,
There, on the ground, was the Son of man.
His face so familiar, I was sure I’d seen it before.
That’s right, I had! through a tiny window, while behind a tightly closed door
What would he say to me, I wondered
As conscience became alive though my thoughts blundered.
But no words escaped his lips. He sat with me in my darkest moment.
never condemning, just sitting.
I didn’t feel anything. I had felt so much until I was numb
But this man stirred something in me, the face of the One.
Who endured so patiently, suffering and pain,
Who lived a life of toil, without material gain.
He knew what it was like, to suffer with excruciating pain,
All through the night.
He’d sweat drops of blood, and prayed alone
He knew it all, but without a single moan
No complaint, no lashing out, no turning back
He submitted to the Father
‘Cause his pain was to remove mine.
His suffering was so that I would have more time
To turn around, to make a change
To have peace of mind and true love.
As he sat by me not only that day, but as long as it took
Till I was able to lift my head, even just a little.
Until finally I was able to say “Lord, I surrender”
and he changed me that day.
I am still tempted by fear and despair
I sometimes feel it, tugging at my hair
But the truth of God’s word keeps shining a light
Even though the dark is too dark and the night, too-night.
The man Jesus, traded his life for mine
All I did was believe, I knew it was real this time
Truth reinforces, the mind enslaved
The mind that resorted to avoiding,
a side effect of the relief I craved.
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want,
He repeats to me daily and I sit amazed and listen,
Eyes closed, quiet mind,
breathe is calm, a new normal, I find
Heart restful, words of life,
He speaks and I hear,
Nothing but love.