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Listen, Daughter, Listen

By: Penny R. Adams

My writing was mainly inspired by my daughter, who experienced various mental health issues beginning in her early teens. However, my experience with mental health began with my mother in the 1950’s and 1960’s when there was no really no help available for people suffering from depression other than electroshock therapy, which helped my mother for only a short time. It was not until anti-depressant medications came into existence that she finally experienced some relief. People need to understand that treatments for mental illness have come a long way, but acceptance of it as a real disease is still lacking. Hopefully, the sharing of stories will help to bring it to the forefront in today’s world.

Honorable Mention · Adult Writing (2023)

Listen, daughter, listen to my heart, to my love.

You won’t listen to my voice, scolding, pleading, shouting,

“Eat, please, won’t you eat – just a bite- one small morsel?”

It will sustain you ‘til tomorrow and all tomorrows of your life.

As your mother, I’m not finished. I need to see you grow.

Let me hug you and feel flesh instead of knife-sharp bone

Jutting from your back

Like lofty mountain peaks.


Listen, daughter, listen, as my voice crackles with sadness.

You wear a mask of golden hair hiding your green eyes-

Those strands like prison bars keep out the world you knew,

But keep in blackened thoughts that confuse your fragile mind.

Let me lift your locks again into a wavy, ribboned tail.

I promise not to pull too hard. Your eyes can open wide.

You’ll be free to smile and laugh.

Free to be.


Listen, daughter, listen as I cry from my pillow.

You are a gentle whisper, a precious beam of sunlight

That dances in the middle of a hundred thousand lives.

Don’t believe the demons whose voices scream inside you.

They taunt you. They connive. They lie.

You’re not fat, you are perfect – an offering from Heaven.

Stay with me daughter. Listen.

Please don’t die.

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