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“Daily Routine Of Waking Up” by Chiwenite Onyekwelu

In October of 2022, we released our second Open Call: How might we view healing in mental health through art, letters, stories and poetry following the pandemic? The following is a poetry submission we received from this open call.

“My submission depicts what several of my mornings look like, since after the Pandemic and the death of one of my closest friends. It addresses the issue of healing from depression— a mental disorder— from a personal perspective. My poem also draws a parallel between my life-story and that of Vincent van Gogh, the renowned post-impressionist artist who shot himself to death in the July of 1890, due to depression. It shows that depression has been here for long, but that we can stay strong— by learning to heal gradually. My poem matters because it outlines effective steps I’ve been taking to push through my gloomiest days. And I believe this can be very helpful for others who are feeling so down; feeling like they should just end everything with a stark finality.”

Chiwenite Onyekwelu

Daily Routine Of Waking Up

(for TY)

Mostly it begins with the bed, 

        the stark

yellowness of my room. This 

        is no Post-

impressionist Art Hub, so I yawn. 

        I stretch. I 

drag my body, half naked, onto 

        the cold 

tiles. Today— again— I won’t 

        mistake the 

thin gloss of paint for a lingering 

        ghost. It’s 

been right here since after our last 


since the pandemic, since those

        gloved hands 

lowered my friend, TY, into the 


I mean, isn’t that the way grief 


Last night a health journal, the one 

        I read

sitting 4ft away from the sizzling  


explained that depression too is a

        mental dis-

order. & I googled the difference: 


Depression. Lingering ghosts.  

        I’m not sure 

where the line begins to connect. 

        Or if. I just 

know my mood’s been gloomy for 

        far too long

& it keeps wanting to be fed: hard


cheek. Peppered eyes. Live heart 

        in place of. 

beef. I set the table & then I’m food. 

        In a 

biography, the post-impressionist


Vincent van Gogh pulls a sunflower 


his belly. In the same, he pulls a

       gun. See

how quickly depression exchanges

        a petal

with something dense. I know. I’m 


to heal— it’s just so hard when the 

        gun’s on 

you. In the mean time, I’ve got to  

        use the

bathroom. Scrub this body clean. 


my best look in the mirror’s stare. Or 

        maybe reply

the howfas in my DM. It’s a brand 

        new day,

I have a bus to catch & Lord knows 

        I will.”

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