Fall 2021 Poetry Project in collaboration with LCC’s “Please Stay: A Call for Suicide and Depression Awareness” Multi-Genre Event

 

Dear LCC Community: Awareness about the pervasiveness of mental health struggles, especially among young people is growing.  September includes Suicide Awareness and Prevention Week and October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month.  The Music Program at LCC is inviting students to lend their voices to a community-building project related to the song “Please Stay” and its messages of understanding, hope, determination, and connection.  Please take some time to share your responses to the prompts in this Google Form link: (deleted) Your submissions are totally anonymous.  There are no right or wrong ways to respond, although the more specific language you use the better.  Your responses will be used as part of the LCC Community-Generated Poetry Project, to craft poems surrounding the concepts in “Please Stay” in order to let all our voices be heard.  Thank you for taking the time to share your ideas, and let your own voice be heard.

 

Asking someone to stay…

  1. What does the title of the song “Please Stay” mean to you? What does the song hope to do?
  2. What is the “storm” in the line “the storm is strong, but it will pass”?
  3. Imagine you are singing this song to a friend or family member struggling with depression. What do you want them to hear?
  4. Write a line or two to add to this song.
  5. When you sing this song to someone struggling with depression, your voice becomes a _________ and then it ________.

 

Our own mental health journeys…

  1. If depression were an animal, it would be a _______ because ______.
  2. Choosing to live can be an act of courage because_________.
  3. When I talk about my feelings with others, my feelings become…
  4. What helps you to “stay”?
  5. What might you add to the Twitter thread: #IKeptLiving?

 

Lyrics of “Please Stay” by Jake Runestead  (Text adapted from tweets using #IKeptLiving — expressions of hope from those who battle depression and chose to live. Link to composer’s website: jakerunestad.com/store/please-stay/)

 

Please Stay

 

No! Don’t go!

Don’t let your worst day be your last.

The storm is strong, but it will pass.

You think you can’t go on another day,

but please stay. Just stay.

Hope is real. Help is real.

You are breath, you are life,

you are beauty, you are light.

Your story is not over.

You are not a burden to anyone.

Please stay. Just stay.


 

“Please Stay” Poetry Project Community-Generated Poems (Fall 2021)

 

Original prompt: If depression were an animal it would be a ______ because _____.

Poets: James Campbell, Barb Clauer, Melissa Kaplan, Josie Sebastian, Jon TenBrink

 

Depression Is…

 

Depression is a predator:

a snake, a lion, a shark, a raptor.

It follows you everywhere

and swallows you whole;

it’s constantly circling

waiting for its opening to pounce.

Lurking in the shadows,

it sneaks up, attacks without warning.

It rises to the surface, coiling tighter and tighter

then picks you to pieces

revealing its weight left on your chest

 

Depression is a parasite:

a tick, a leech, a mosquito.

It’s deceptive and tricky and

doesn’t always appear threatening

but eats you from within,

quietly, telling you the things you

don’t want to hear,

slowly draining your life, while

remaining unseen and unknown to others.

Out of nowhere

it will find you, sting you, hurt you.

Eventually it moves on, but a

a scar remains so it knows where to return.

 

Depression is an angler fish

existing in the dark, cold, crushing, lonely depths.

It’s a polar bear, whose world is

constantly falling apart

through no fault of its own.

It’s a chameleon letting you smile

on the outside while suffering inside.

Depression is a fish in a bowl,

trapped, swimming in circles in your head.

It’s a bat: misunderstood

and more common than we know.

 

Depression is a phoenix:

struggling to rise from the ashes,

courageously persevering

through cycles of

pain

destruction

& rebirth.

Original prompt: Choosing to live can be an act of courage because_________.

Poets: Judy Allen, Barb Clauer, Layne Ingram, Tami McDiarmid, Susan Murphy, Felipe Sustaita, Jon Ten Brink

 

The Battle and the War

 

Suicide Haiku: Losing the Battle

 

Living’s hard. Death’s not.

Life’s fucking hard all the time.

Not all win the fight.

 

Living as an Act of Courage: Winning the War

 

Living is the hardest thing to do in life.

It takes strength and stamina.

Even when you’re empty

or hopeless, your persistence can

be a light to someone suffering.

 

The only parts of life that are easy

are inconsequential things:

setting down a pen; walking one step more.

Perseverance is an act of courage;

refusing to give up is much harder than giving up.

 

It can be scary to keep fighting

as it requires a leap of faith

to believe that tomorrow,

or even the next moment, will get better.

Facing your fears and dealing with your mistakes

daily is a struggle. It’s an act of courage.

 

Choosing to live means battling the demons

that rise up, to take you down to the depths,

like weights tied to your feet.

Fighting to swim to the surface:

that takes courage.

 

It’s brave to face the unknown & push through.

There’s triumph in choosing to live

because it means you have survived

100% of your bad days

on this group project that is Earth.

 

 

 

 

Original prompt: What is the “storm” in the line “the storm is strong, but it will pass”?

Poets: James Campbell, Barb Clauer, Melissa Kaplan, Josie Sebastian

 

 

The Storm

 

Like a storm building on the horizon,

clouds gathering into a thunderhead,

depression is despair that moves from

unremarkable to unbearable.

 

The storm rolls over you in waves

a chaotic, endless darkness, a sea of vast lostness.

It pulls you to the low point of a panic attack,

persists as relentless anxiety, or an eating disorder.

The turbulence of thoughts surges

into a tsunami of negative emotions

that makes it seem like life is not worth living.

 

But storms have purpose, and they pass.

Don’t let your worst day be your last.

 

 

 

Original prompt:  Imagine you are singing this song to a friend or family member struggling with depression.  What do you want them to hear?

 

Poets: Judy Allen, Barb Clauer, Layne Ingram, Melissa Kaplan, Tami McDiarmid, Susan Murphy, Felipe Sustaita, Jon Ten Brink

 

Stay

 

Please stay.

This moment is just a blip in time:

you are breath, you are life

you are beauty, you are light.

If you leave, you’ll never see

the brilliance you created

just by your existence.

 

You are enough.

You are worthy of life.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

And if that isn’t enough,

you are so much more than my love for you:

you are the wind and the ocean and the stars.

 

You have the strength

to swim through stormy waters,

make it to shore and

leave your footprints on the ground,

to show others your journey.

 

Your story is not over;

you are not a burden to anyone.

Your pain and hurt is real and raw, but

your life has infinite, irreplaceable value.

Nothing could fill the void left behind.

 

Hope is real; help is real.

Instead of asking why, let the anguish

wash over you and wash away.

Happiness cannot exist without pain.

The storm is strong, yet will pass;

I will help pull you through.

 

Your story has just begun:

I love you

I love you

I love you

 

 

Original prompt: When you sing this song to someone struggling with depression, your voice becomes a _________ and then it ________.

Poets: Judy Allen, Barb Clauer, Layne Ingram, Melissa Kaplan, Tami McDiarmid, Susan Murphy, Felipe Sustaita, Jon Ten Brink

 

Hear my Voice

 

When you are in pain, let my voice be

a haven that holds space for you,

and then a key, opening new pathways to

glimmering, whispering hope.

 

When you feel despair, let my voice be

a seed planted in your heart,

and the sun that shines

to sprout and germinate it with life.

 

When you are in shadow, let my voice be

a light in the dark that bursts into sparks,

a star that shines through the veil.

Let it echo and inspire.

 

When you are lost, let my voice be

a beacon on the shore, a lifeline

pulling you into a channel of emotions

flowing into a vessel that holds you safe.

 

 

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