My depression is a shapeshifter: Richie’s reflection on mental health

My depression is a shapeshifter: Richie’s reflection on mental health

May 4, 2023
Category: Perspectives
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Excerpt from Sabrina Benaim's poem "Explaining My Depression to My Mother: A Conversation"

Richie (Anytown 2022) shares a poem and reflects on his mental health journey. “Hope is the word that keeps me going.”

Growing up I got really bad anxiety caused by a person at school who was an adult. This anxiety started in 1st grade but grew worse in 3rd grade causing many issues in my life.

To give an example, in 4th grade I was out of school for 2 weeks and it’s not like I was just chilling and having fun. When I was home, it was just a nightmare of emotions. During that time, my anxiety increased because rumors were going around school about why I was out. Some people thought I had cancer, some thought I broke both my arms and a lot more.

That’s just one of the hellish things I’ve been through because of mental heath. There’s many more stories about my mental heath journey from elementary school to now where some things got better but some things got worse.

Most recently, my mental health got so bad that I had to drop out of high school.

When I was in 6th grade, I never quite understood what the heck was going on with me and I just looked up on YouTube “anxiety stuff” or “anxiety songs” and that’s when I found this:


The video is titled, “Explaining my Anxiety to My Mother,” but for me, I’d change that to “Explaining My Anxiety and Depression to Myself.” 


 “Mom, my depression is a shapeshifter.
One day it is as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear,
The next, it’s the bear.” 


When I was younger, it felt like my anxiety was a shapeshifter, nowadays it’s all the shapes. I would use some of these quotes to explain how I was feeling to others and sometimes I would get so tired of explaining it to people I would just make them watch this video. 

 I connect with a lot from this poem but in some ways, my experience is also different. Like when she references her Dad. I don’t connect with this part because I am lucky I have my Dad where some others could be dealing with what I am without their Dad or Mom or Family in general.  

This is how I can explain my mental health and the last thing I want to add is that there is one main thing in life that I rely on which might have started when I saw this video. The word that always keeps me going is Hope. Hope is the word that keeps me going.  

Thank you for reading this and listening to my story.