My hero

I need words but I am at a want for them,
hope, but there is none to be had;
understanding, but there are only these whispers
and they just echo in my head.

They are not me, but I will own them;
they are me, but I will not rue them;
they are not me, but I will hold them,
they just are, are, are.

Mental illness is a burden on the afflicted and an equal burden on those who love them. It is a sad thing to see someone you know to be sweet, smart and funny caught in the grips of mental illness. They slowly become someone else who is different and not the person you know they really are.

But if mental illness in general is a burden, the hardest to bear is schizophrenia. You see the person slip into a world where it is harder and harder for them to understand reality and yet the one thing they hold on to is the absolute assurance that they are not ill and that their view of the world is perfectly real. There is no “logical” way to explain that their world is not “reality,” that what they perceive is not the way the world really is, that they are not in the danger they think they are.

And it is persistent, a heartache that never relents. Anyone who suffers from schizophrenia and who, every day, tries to rise above it and beyond it is my hero. Every day.

Thank you for reading My hero. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge,


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2 responses to “My hero

  1. Barbara C Minor

    Living with mental illness as a care giver opens my heart to their suffering, their struggle to make the ground under their feet solid, their anger when we can’t understand. Learning to let things “just be” is a new experience. No more correcting, changing, or fixing. Just be. This poem helps me to reach up, using kindness, to touch and connect, as you said, to that place where there are no words. The Spirit perhaps?

    • Barbara, I did not know that you work with the mentally ill, else I’d have asked you to review this poem first, before I posted it. All the more reason that I am glad that you liked it.