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By: Mariam F.

I’ve always considered mental health to be an important aspect of life. However, people only focus on the effects that are visible to outsiders. Often, we only notice the issues of bad mental health when we clearly see someone struggling in front of us. We tend to ignore or forget hidden, invisible emotions and worries. The narrator in my poem has a strong need for academic validation, which ultimately worsens their mental health incredibly despite the fact that they have seemingly ordinary parents, ordinary friends, and an ordinary life. Essentially, my poem’s purpose was to demonstrate that anybody can experience a challenging mental condition, regardless of circumstance, upbringing, or age, and it can have an impact in ways that nobody notices.

3rd Place · Middle School Writing (2023)

One o’clock.

Two o’clock.

Almost three in the morning.

Lamp on. Blinds closed. Book open,

and the eyes of Alexander Hamilton,

Isaac Newton,

and Edgar Allen Poe,


into my soul.

Taunting me to walk away,

and take a rest.


But rest leads to carelessness,

and carelessness leads to negligence,

and negligence leads to bad jobs,

and bad jobs lead to a bad life,

where you feel like a failure.

Are a failure.

And the more you think about it,

the worse it seems.


So I don’t rest.

I work and work and work and work

until the skin on my hand feels like its rebelling against me,

tearing away.

Until my mind feels like it’s mocking me,

going numb.

Until my soul is carrying the weight of the world,

like Atlas.


Even when I lay down,

the pills don’t work.

Melatonin turns into




terror induced nightmares,

reminding me

I’m not done.

Because I’ll never be done.


Every morning, every night,

my mind and body are tied,

to the pencil in my hand

and the paper on my desk.

They control me

like a puppet

on strings.


The irony beats me in the head.

What should make my life


Is petrifying me

Into failure.

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