I work in the mental health and homelessness sector and have a mental health diagnosis myself. A lot of the people I work with have commented that the isolation that shocked the world and was so publicised during the pandemic can be an everyday occurrence for somebody living with an acute mental health illness. I wrote this poem hoping to capture something of the torment and loneliness of flashbacks and anxiety.

It feels
Like a balloon filling with sand
Crushing my ribs
Choking out air

An adult
Pressing the chest
Of a child
Back on floorboards
And threadbare rugs
With foreign scents
And dust

The pressure that says
“It’s ok”
“Don’t tell”

A mother who doesn’t hear.
Doesn’t come.
A God who was watching
And maybe a crease
In the corner of his mouth.

The eyes that find focus
Not on God
Nor flesh
But a frilly beige lampshade
Upon a backdrop of yellowed ceiling paper
I think they used to be white.

With the balloon
That fills with sand
and chokes out air.

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