John is a freelance writer, ghost-writer, storyteller, and poet. He always tries to include a message or social commentary in his writing
Poem Requested by Misbah Sheikh
I have written the following poem as a 'Special Edition' of Poems From the Porch, as it was requested by my friend and fellow hubber Misbah Sheikh.
I could have included it with other poems but felt the subject was important enough, and the poem long enough, to stand on its own. Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects around one in a hundred people, so it is a very common mental illness, however, there is still much stigma and misunderstanding associated with it.
This is for you, Misbah, and I hope other readers find the poem interesting as well.
I remember you were asking for ideas for the "From the Porch" series, and I have one suggestion. I'd like to tell you that this is a request, not a challenge. I never challenge people I know have the courage to take on such a task. LoL. So, Can you create a poem in the tone of a Schizophrenic person? telling about his feelings, his fears, hallucinations, etc. I know I always have stupid ideas, but I think it would be fantastic. Have you ever written a poem about this topic before?
— Misbah Sheikh
Schizophrenia ~ From the Inside Looking Out
I hear these voices in my head,
some tell me I’d be better dead.
At first, I thought they were next door
or coming from the upper floor.
But soon I realized that was wrong
for the voices were too loud and strong.
They’d tell me I’m not good enough,
that I am weak, and life’s too tough.
They’d make me speak against my will.
I’ve hurt my friends, I do that still.
It’s hard to tell what’s right or wrong,
and I try to drown them out with songs.
With headphones on the music blares,
I know nobody really cares.
My psych tells me to take this pill,
a sedative to dull my will.
Next month he’ll see there’re side effects.
“Let’s try a new one. What the heck!”
I’m just used as a guinea pig,
I’m just a speck, the world’s so big.
I have only one persona,
which may suit a constant loner.
And that’s enough for me to bear,
When I may feel the need to share.
I feel judgemental people stare,
wishing I could hide and not be there.
I’d put a bucket on my head
if that would ease my growing dread.
I can’t explain the pain I feel.
Did I accept the Devil’s deal?
My life has no meaning or worth,
I’ve felt this way, I’m sure, since birth.
I could have been a happy girl,
but schizophrenia rocked my world.
I’m hopeful that these things will change,
be seen as “normal,” no more strange.
I feel that way, right here today,
but soon those thoughts will drift away,
and I’ll be stuck with my fucked mind.
As the world moves on, I’m left behind.
I can’t explain my mental state
but sadly must accept my fate.
If I stay strong I will survive,
and just thank God I am alive.
The voices laugh and call me weak,
“You’ll never find the help you seek!
You’ve been an outcast all along,
it’s easier to just be gone!”
Delusions are part of my life,
they cause me so much grief and strife.
I see things others say aren't real,
and feel things no one else can feel.
Hallucinations come and go,
what's real or not, I just don't know.
Zombies stalk me in the dark,
an asteroid crashed in the park.
So, please just try to understand,
and if I ask, just hold my hand.
Don’t judge me, shun me, put me down,
or in those waves of hate I’ll drown.
For I’m a person just like you,
Not in a freak show or the zoo
To ogle at and make fun of.
We all deserve respect and love.
Am I a mindless fool? My life is a fragment, a disconnected dream that has no continuity. I am so tired of senselessness. I am tired of the music that my feelings sing, the dream music.
— Ross David Burke, When the Music's Over: My Journey into Schizophrenia
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that causes a person to have an altered experience of reality. It causes psychosis when people experience delusions and hallucinations. Schizophrenia affects people’s thoughts, perceptions and behaviour and interferes with their ability to function in everyday situations like work, and school. They often find it hard to relate to other people.
One of the biggest problems people with schizophrenia face in the community is the stigma associated with it. Most people find it hard to understand this mental illness, and contrary to popular belief, people with schizophrenia do not have a ‘split personality.' Very few people with schizophrenia become violent but they do, unfortunately, suffer a higher rate of suicide than the general population.
According to a study in JAMA Psychiatry: "Those with schizophrenia are almost three times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those without the serious mental illness, making it second only to age as a risk factor for mortality." (thank you Misbah for researching this)
© 2021 John Hansen