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Winning poems from The Advocacy Project's Healing Words poetry competition

Winning poems from the Healing Words poetry competition

Below are the winning poems from The Advocacy Project's Healing Words poetry competition, created to allow people to express their mental health issues through creativity. 


The Cage by Hannah Lewis - Overall Winner

I can see it; I can see the life I want to live,

but there’s something inside me which I can’t forgive.

I’m trapped in this cage and I feel so restrained,

I want to be better but I’m shackled, I’m chained.

The restraint that I feel is too much to bear,

it doesn’t even matter what clothes I wear.

I’m chained to you: Body Dysmorphic Disorder

And the things you say to me are like a broken recorder:

“You’re so fat you’re so ugly you make children cry,

You’re deformed and you’re hideous – you deserve to die.”

For so long you said this and so I believed,

that if I was to disappear the world would be relieved.


The cage is my body – scratched at and picked,

They tell me to stop but I’m an addict.

And with my hand down my throat and tears in my eyes…

“Look what I do because of your lies!

Let me out let me out!” I kick and scream.

I’m out of the cage – is this but a dream?

I’m no longer anxious, nauseous or numb,

I appreciate the human that I have become.

I have marks on my body where the shackles once were,

But I’m adamant self-hatred will not reoccur.

For I am out of my cage and my body is healing,

And this freedom I now have, is a wonderful feeling.


Living a lie by Lee Baker - Darkest Days category 

Walking into a typhoon,

Swimming against the tide,

That's just how it feels,

When my truth I have to hide.

Pretending you're really happy,

When inside you want to cry,

Feeling unbelievably low,

But your exterior shows you're high.

Forgetting how to feel happy,

Cos your default is set to sad,

Forgetting all the good times,

Just remembering the bad.

Not wanting to leave the house,

Or talk to anyone today,

Walking with my head down,

In my bed I just want to stay.

Not seeing a light at the end,

Just stormy skies up ahead,

I can't see a way out of this,

Maybe I’d be better off dead?!


A feeling of guilt arises,

For two lives depend on me,

My special boys I love so much,

If only they could see.....

These dark thoughts I have inside,

The bad things I want to do,

The hurt I cause to myself,

These scares upset me too.

The one wish that I have,

Is my kids never feel this pain,

Or the feeling of self hatred,

Under dark clouds filled with rain.

As I look into the future,

The old me will resurrect one day,

I'll then smile a real smile and say,

"I really do feel good today"



Now and then by Ella Bridgman - Being Well category

Now and then

I take a moment to




and feel myself



The rise

of my chest


drawing in




slowly I

let it fall

setting the




I do it tens

of thousands

of times

              every single day 


but I only


              to notice 


Hiding places by Chris Bird - Illustrated poem category 

We hide in the streets
We hide in houses
apartments and flats
We hide in jobs
We hide in routines
And TV
We hide on tube trains
We hide in shirt and ties
Some men
hide in violent disorder
and alcohol
Some people hide in
Spiteful comments
Or hate crime
We have learned to hide
In families
In names, in traditions
or religion
We hide in heroin and cocaine
We hide in prison
In art, in rap music, in jazz and blues
In shoplifting, in theft and crime
All human creatures
Learn to hide
Hoping never to be found



For Emily by Paul Sugrue - Good days and bad days 

If I could touch tomorrow 

Should I fall down again 

Or fail to see

Whatever there is to see 

Would I remember then 

As if by chance

To catch a glance

Beyond this masquerade 

The briefest glimpse

Of all pending sorrow 

I would lose that frown 

Put on my gown

If I could touch tomorrow