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Mental Health Month - Reaching for help - and failing

Mental Health Month
(I've had, and continue to have, my own battles since childhood).

I'm Sorry, Not Sorry


I’m sorry to hear about that

She posted about her sick aunt
Dying really
She hinted at that aspect
But wasn’t it already obvious?
‘I’m sorry to hear about that’
They said
Sad face emoji
She stared at her phone
And it’s comments
And felt suddenly and overwhelmingly, empty.

He texted his ex
In a variation of detail
About his physiological problems
Brought about by real life obstacles
Or were they just the catalyst
For the exaggerated stress
He was enduring?
He knew
As did she
That it was long standing issues
That had brought him to this juncture
Almost to his knees
And that’s what he didn’t want
To be ground to a halt
Nervous breakdown
Or whatever the modern term was.
‘I’m sorry to hear about that’
She wrote
He went on some more
But quickly understood the futility
His pleas and requests
Fell on not deaf ears
As she had heard him just fine.
He was on his own
And had no idea
How to make any of it better
He’d never felt more alone in his life.

Not Sorry

‘R U Ok’
No, I’m not
But what will you do about it?
What will anyone do?

‘You need to get some help
Have you seen a doctor?’

It’s the first port of call
Doctors come long before
Confession to a friend
Pills come long before
Public admittance
Battles are fought
Long before fragments of defeat
Are admitted.

‘I’m sorry about that’
Makes them feel better
Do they really care?
What can they do anyway?
Sometimes, plenty
Simple practical steps
Take part of the life load off
Offer to pick up a chore
Insist on a personal visit
If only a small amount
Rather than buzzwords
Spewed out like an auto-correct response.

‘I’m sorry to hear about that
Now, where was I?’

© ajl 2019

This poem and 9 others are now available in a pdf for download, called All Empires Crumble.
All are from 2019.

exsomnis by m_tau

Previous entries in this Series on Mental Health

Thank you to M. Tau for permission to use these specific visuals in this series. 
See her profile at DeviantArt

My Books


  1. Very much what social media is about, sorry, then move onto the next thing. I think this is probably translating to our offline lives. Sorry, but do we really care? A few months ago a facebook acquaintance was posting a lot of things about how bad his life was, marriage breakup, death of a pet, couldn't get work in a field he was expert in. In response I clicked on the sad emoji, and probably made a comment along the lines of hope things get better. I hoped his close offline friends would offer him support. I remember he said he rang Life Line and was told to think happy thoughts, or something that really sucked along those lines. A few days later he killed himself. I really was shocked and wondered what I could have done. Could I have done anything? He lived in WA so I couldn't visit, I just assumed there were people closer to him in location and friendship that could have helped. But it didn't happen. I have another Facebook friend who often posts about how life sucks for them, I know her better and often post what I hope is encouraging and empathetic thoughts, but I worry about her now.

    1. Hello Graham and thank you for commenting and I'm very sorry but I seem to have missed this comment of yours which is very upsetting to hear of. I'm sorry to hear that. Sounds like things were pretty bad for him. It is hard to know what to say but if Lifeline can't point people in the right direction then that's a worry. Yes it's hard to know what goes through people's minds but if they are genuinely upset then hopefully we can all try a little harder to offer support. Still hindsight is a wonderful thing.
      Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. He had a lot of facebook friends, even though he was very forthright in his opinions, many of those facebook friends seemed very surprised when he killed himself. A committed Catholic too, so I wonder if he was asking for and/or getting any help from his church.


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