Oh, What Afflicts Me? (A Poem)

Oh, What Afflicts Me? (A Poem)

The weight on my chest makes me exhausted and I am breathless,

Yet I know the struggle against it is hopeless;

It feels like it has always been there and shall always remain,

And I can no longer determine the boundary

Between the loneliness and the illness.

My bloodshot eyes are throbbing with their own rhythm,

I see the world through a misty film

And voices sound like they are coming from under water,

My body is my enemy — I stumble and falter.

My mouth is dry, parched, and my throat scorched,

I open my mouth to scream, but all that comes out is silence.

Is it the pain from the disease that’s distorting my senses?

Or is it the despair that always follows me through the darkness?

Why I Wrote This Piece

The COVID-19 pandemic is leading to extreme fear and uncertainty. As humanity is locked inside, mental health issues are growing and young people are worried about their futures and their financial security. There is pressure on some students to be productive and learn new skills during this time, but I believe we should not be so hard on ourselves if our mental health is getting in the way of productivity. It is okay to take a break. After all, it has been scientifically proven that stress can weaken our immune systems. Depression and anxiety can even have long-term impacts on the body that can shorten one’s lifespan. And of course, they can increase your risk of contracting COVID-19. I have often ignored my mental health issues in the past, thinking they were not serious enough to worry about. The truth is that mental health should be everyone’s priority. We need to be taking care of ourselves both physically and mentally while in quarantine.

 In this poem, the speaker experiences symptoms that are associated with both COVID-19 and depression.  I have noticed that whenever I have been in stressful situations in the past, my body has reacted as if it were sick. This is because there is a clear link between our mental and physical well-being. In fact, there may sometimes be no obvious distinction or boundary between them at all, which is precisely what I have tried to capture in this poem. In the speaker’s confusion, they can not even tell if what is afflicting them is physical or mental.


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