[Poetry Friday]: Fighting Dragons & Depression

poetry friday

Iphigene here.

When I last participated in Poetry Friday I spoke of Emily Dickinson and Mental Illness. Today, I re-visit the theme and bring this topic out for discussion. There’s still a lot of stigma around mental illness, a lot of it related to the lack of education and understanding about it. In my own struggle with Depression, I have found people who would easily trivialize the matter, which in most cases is detrimental. People with mental illness will have to live with their illness. There is no real cure. And it is important for us to accept it without feeling self-hatred and guilt towards having the illness, belief that we can do something about it and the courage to act on our belief.

In the thick of my depression in 2014, I found myself working on an abstract painting I called Fighting Dragons. I was having a bad day and I wasn’t about to give in to it. The phrase Fighting Dragon has since then become my metaphor for what it’s like living with depression. I don’t get to slay it, it never dies, I just get to fight it whenever it comes. Today’s poem carries that metaphor in the title and I write this as my own conversation with people I know who are struggling with their own dragons.  Thank you Robyn for hosting today’s Poetry Friday. Head to her blog for more poems.

Fighting Dragons 16 x 16 Acrylic on Canvas

Fighting Dragons
16 x 16 Acrylic on Canvas

FightingDragons

  1. A lovely exploration of such an important topic. I love the image of dragon fighting.

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    1. Thank you Sally. This won’t be the last time I try to explore this topic in Poetry.

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  2. “Fighting dragon” is the perfect way to describe living with mental illness, iphigene. Among the other reasons you’ve mentioned, I like that metaphor because it describes mental illness as a noble cause. Mental illness is not something that happens because we’re weak, it reminds us of the inner strength it takes to confront these demons.

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    1. Hi Michelle,
      Thank you for expounding on the metaphor. It is a noble cause. Getting to the idea that we can fight the dragon is big enough obstacle to overcome, but I also think its where we get the courage and inner strength to confront it. We may never get to slay it, but where there is a fighting change, there is always hope.

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  3. PS. My favorite stanza is the one beginning, “While you curl up…” It’s truly a wonderful poem, Iphigene.

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  4. I enjoyed your exploration mental illness through art and poetry. Embracing emotional issues requires a lot courage. Excellent post!

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    1. Thank you Patricia. This is something I want to explore further in my own righting. My recent poetry has allowed me to look at the struggle with emotional and mental issues as well as the hope that lies at the end.

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  5. Your poem touches me because of some of the words that imply hiding out, Iphigene, “well-guarded heart” is one phrase. But in some of it there is such a connection, ‘micro-second of openness’ with the person to whom you are speaking. My mother had depression all her life, and until I was grown, we never spoke of it, nor did the family. It was good for us to talk about it and her fight, so like your ‘dragon’. Thank you. I only wish my mother was living so I could share with her.

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    1. Linda, thank you for sharing that bit about your mother. The truth is, I’m generally a private person, but I also find that there is a need to talk about mental illness. Some may not have it in them to talk about it, but also as someone working in psychology I find there is a need to put it out there beyond just the medical description but capture the experience. My hope that in adding my voice I get to encourage people who suffer with mental illness and who are close to people with mental illness to talk about it.

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  6. I love the depiction of depression as a dragon, especially the stanza “My words float between your ears…” Your poem helps me understand a little better the fight that my son has had for most of his life. Thanks for sharing this, Iphigene.

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    1. Hi Buffy,
      The day I made the painting, I felt it was a dragon. It was big, looming and brought in fire and ash. It was a creature that captured what I felt. In my experience, the ‘mood’ doesn’t come in fast, I feel it flying/looming in the sky of my clear mind. I am glad this brought some understanding to your son’s experience as that is the somehow my goal in talking about my depression.

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  7. Several folks in my immediate family battle OCD, depression, and bipolar, so this really hit home for me. I love the image of fighting dragons side by side. Thanks for this personal post and sharing yourself out loud. Hugs from Minnesota.

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    1. Hi Laura,
      Thank you for the Hugs! 🙂
      While I always hesitate in sharing my personal life, this particular aspect of my life was something I felt I needed to talk about in order to create that conversation and bring some understanding to the illness, the fight and the hope that is mental illness.

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      1. Yes! Yesyesyesyes. I’m collaborating on a writing project right now related to mental illness. Don’t know if it will ever see publication, but we’re trying our hardest…

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        1. That is wonderful! I do hope it gets published. I think with all the YA that dabbles into mental illness, I think there is an audience for it and I think the public is ready to have this conversation. I’m crossing my fingers for you. 🙂

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  8. Thanks for sharing your story through words and art. You made your pain into beauty. What a risk you took, but what a great role model you are. Fight on! Be brave! Cheering you on from Ohio!

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    1. Thank you Mary Lee,
      This is very encouraging. It is a risk to talk about it, but I won’t be a psychologist if I didn’t get to talk about it. Too many people suffer with mental illness and a lot are scared of it because of the stigma it carries. The fear for both the one who has it and those around them can be detrimental in seeking help. I have seen people, despite diagnosis, medication and therapy who see it as just being insane or crazy. It shouldn’t be the case. Again thank you for the support! 🙂

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  9. You are a brave and beautiful soul, Iphigene.
    Thanks for sharing. I’ll pass along to my hubby (a psychiatrist).

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    1. Thank you Robyn!
      A close friend of mine was also diagnosed with clinical depression a few months back. While she knew of her diagnosis and what she needed to do, she still called herself ‘crazy.’ She felt she would be forever damaged and inadequate. I felt a pang in my heart and this poem is rooted in that experience. The stigma is still there. I had a first hand experience of early this week. It is these experiences that inspire me to put this story out there and talk about it more. Thank you also for passing it along. 🙂

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  10. This is an awesome poem! It really inspires you, and, while also speaking about depression, could be about anything worth fighting for. 🙂

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    1. Thank you Erik!
      While I did write this with my own ‘dragon’ in mind, that bit of stanza referring other people fighting their own dragons was somewhat my way of saying…life and all it has to offer is worth fighting for. 🙂

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