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slam poetry

A woman can't get out of bed.

Living with depression and anxiety is hard enough, but things are made much worse when the people we depend on minimize or discount the disorder. It’s prevalent for people dealing with depression to have parents or loved ones who say that they are just faking it for attention or that they just need to get out of bed and start living life.

If it were only that easy.

When people say these things, it can be extremely invalidating and cause further stress, anxiety and confusion for the depressed person.

Writer and performance artist Sabrina Benaim did an incredible job of explaining what it feels like to have your depression and anxiety invalidated by a loved one. In 2014, she delivered an award-winning piece at the Toronto Poetry Slam called "Explaining My Depression To My Mother," which has made countless people with depression feel seen.

In the poem, she beautifully explains the difference between depression and anxiety.

Anxiety holds me a hostage inside of my house, inside of my head.

Mom says, “Where did anxiety come from?”

Anxiety is the cousin visiting from out-of-town depression felt obligated to bring to the party.

Mom, I am the party.

She also explains why her happiness is beyond her control.

Mom says, “Happy is a decision.”

But my happy is as hollow as a pin-pricked egg.

My happy is a high fever that will break.

Mom says I am so good at making something out of nothing and then flat-out asks me if I am afraid of dying.


I am afraid of living.

Benaim's powerful poem helped earn the Canadian team the top prize at the 2014 Toronto Poetry Slam. After her performance went viral, she became a vocal advocate for anxiety and depression, performing tours in the U.S., Australia and Canada. She has also published two books, "Depression and Other Magic Tricks" (2017) and "I Love You, Call Me Back" (2021).