Anxiety & Panic Disorders · Depression

Window Shopping

By Nicole Kiss

I’m supposed to choose something
Anything, just not nothing
But I prefer the window-shopping
I get too overwhelmed by the options
It isn’t just tradeoffs or give and take
There is so much more at stake
Pick what you want, but it might break
Then pay in time and tears for your fate

Imagine it’s a bomb that I’m meant to defuse
And I have to decide between the reds and the blues
I don’t want to be put to the test and lose
Just because I was pressed to choose
Now, I don’t care what end I meet
But I know that it affects more than me
If it explodes, we’re smithereens
I can’t carry that responsibility

I mean, I could get in my car and drive it fast
But I know that somewhere I’m bound to crash
From my hand on the wheel to my foot on the gas
I know the weight that each part has
And it sits on my chest, this gnawing dread
Knowing my choices could kill you dead
I don’t care about even a hair on my head
I just couldn’t stand to be the reason you bled

Preparing my whole life to finally live my life
Like a surgeon thoroughly trained for her first slice
But I’m choking on the smell and gagging at the sight
When it’s face to face, it’s fight or flight
And I realize that running is for the weak
But maybe it’s strong to know when to retreat
You do less harm to those you never meet
And you do more good as the only casualty

Yea, I prefer window-shopping
I get too overwhelmed by the options
It isn’t just about investments and profits
It is about whom we affect with our losses



Nicole Kiss is an explorer of art forms. With a BA in Music and Psychology from Greenville College, she utilizes music, poetry, and drawing to express her struggles with depression, anxiety, and lupus. She hopes to someday pursue a degree in counseling to help others and pass on the creative coping she’s picked up along the way.


If you or a loved one are feeling suicidal, please reach out for help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 in the United States.

Anxiety & Panic Disorders · Mental Health - Other

I Understand

By Shannon Harrington

You say that you understand.
That you’ll hold my hand
As stand and cry.

What does that mean?
That you’ve been
Where I’ve been?

Is there’s a voice
Giving you a choice
Between hating or despising yourself?

That your muscles work
As the thoughts lurk and
Throw your stomach into turmoil?

Do you feel these things
As your mind flings
More poisonous words?

Then how can you say “I understand”?
That’s a lie.
Do you stand in my
Shoes and want to die?

What if “I understand”
Is nothing but an empty promise:
That you’ll be there
To show up at a distance
And pretend to care?

When the razor feels cold
Then come to me
With those bold
Words full of a bigger promise
Than you realize.


Hello, I’m Shannon Harrington and I’m graduating high school this year. I suffer from anxiety disorder, minor ocd, and partial seizures. I find much inspiration and expression through art in forms of writing, music, and painting.

Anxiety & Panic Disorders

From Anxiety Journal—Spring 2015

By Gregory Luce

Living with nerve ends
a little too close  
to the surface:
They vibrate
like steel strings
strummed with a razorblade.

Relief: Tumble a tiny half moon
from a trembling plastic bottle,
roll it between finger
and thumb, take a deep
breath. It leaves
a faint bitter aftertaste
even when swallowed whole,
but soon enough sweet
anodyne flows like
warm water smooth
over softening soil.

Evening of the last day of April, warm breeze, fragrance of lingering blossoms. I make my way gingerly down the sidewalk, taking the damp air in slow, even breaths. When I reach the bus stop I look up.

a flight of swifts just
at dusk their high thin music
a thin reed to grasp

Mother’s Day four years after: Sunny café Sunday, mothers all around. I think of mine, gone now four years. She passed on the 118th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s death.

catbird sings at dusk
broken song flutters into
my memory’s ear




Gregory Luce is a neurodivergent poet living in Arlington, VA, where he writes when not riding his bike, birdwatching, or teaching writing at Writopia Lab. He is the author of four chapbooks: Signs of Small Grace(Pudding House Publications), Drinking Weather (Finishing Line Press), Memory and Desire (Sweatshoppe Publications), and Tile (Finishing Line Press), has published widely in print and online. He is the 2014 Larry Neal Award winner for adult poetry, given by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and serves as Literary Editor of Bourgeon and Board Chair of Day Eight, a DC-based non-profit supporting the arts and artists. He is recently retired from National Geographic, having completed a 32-year career there.


For more information about anxiety disorders, please visit NIMH and also check out the category here on Pre-existing Poems. We’ve only been up for a few days, and about half of all the poems I’ve received have related to anxiety or depression. Statistically, 18% of adults in the US have an anxiety disorder, and it is the most common mental illness in the country. Read more stats about anxiety over at ADAA.

Anxiety & Panic Disorders · Depression · Post-Traumatic Stress

Natural Disaster

By Nicole Kiss

Forming its rotation
In the wasteland
Of my mind
Vacating all that’s mine
Taking all my shrines
To past and future
All that’s left is present time
Wind is shaking
All I know is vascillating
Between the pros and cons of sin
Am I in contradiction
With the things that
I have listened to and know
Cold seeps in cracks of the window
Pain is watching the destruction
And then wishing it was you in vain

Insane, deranged, infected brain
Crazed by any other name
Would still mean I’m the one to blame
For getting in the basket of that old ill-fated
Crane your neck to see my pair of shoes
I’ll perish soon
My parachute is broken
It’s still closed and
So here’s hoping
That the ground will open up its
Mouth of dirt and fungus
Fill it’s lungs,
Stick out its tongue
And I’m the snowflake
I am lowgrade
Not sick enough
To leave yet
But still sick enough
To heave and
Not see heaven yet
But I am buried
By the burden of this debt

It’s internal, see?
Cannot see externally
Apparently, eternally
I’m cursed to be
One can never tell
That toil
Takes a toll
I till the soil
Of my soul
And still find oil
But it does not mix well
With the living water
That allows the seed to grow
Impedes the flow
of Grace
I need to throw
Away the tar
And go back to that place
So far
Retrace the scars
And find out where the tissue
Blocked my heart

This fibrillation is frustrating
Muscle twitching
Cardiac infarc-tion
In my own mind
Cause I am my own
Despised and divided
By my own beholding eye
I cannot stand the constant
Lance of my own sword
Passed on to me from all the words
And circumstances of my birth
And hopes and dreams are only worth
Their weight if second chances
Are a thing
But I’m not sure what I believe
Cause what I see and what I
Hope for
Are two conflicting no-tions
Tectonic plates that shift on and
Off and on without my op-tion
Back and forth and back like an o-cean

Wave goodbye
To good and right
Cause lack of dark
Is lots of
Light is luminescent
But it answers all the questions
You had no intention of ever
Task-ing you with a version of the truth
Pass-ing it on to you
Like a baton
In a race you never chose to run
It’s more like being chased, a gun
Is placed upon the temple of your

Face the music now
There’s no choosing in this town
Take the yoke and pull the plow
They’ll whip the sweat right off your brow
Showing weakness or
Losing pretense
Or using your own common sense
Is grounds for treason
No reaction or the beatings
Will never cease for
No apparent reason
The cost of your existence
Is each second that you breath in and
Out of from under your control
I need to be outside the rule
Of your green thumb nat-ion
Greed Trumps moral pat-ience
Hate from in and out and up and down
And all direc-tions

So I will shun the world
I’d rather give in to the force
Of the mental swarm of bees
That I set forth
My storm was formed
Through conflicting cold and warm
To the skull’s strategic soft spots
Laughter takes a wrong turn
Rug burns
Vision blurs
Fists serve as lessons learned
The sting reminds you not to cause a stir
But now that the punisher
Is safely six feet under
Will you stay so under-
Like it’s God’s plan-ning
For you to keep with-standing
Like those statues with no hands or feet?

Defeat, retreat, or take a seat
There is no option in between
But know a moving target is more likely to be seen
But less ea-sy
To take down
Tornadoes that touchdown
Parade around
They barely touch the ground
They do not stay in place
You see it in the distance
But you cannot get away
The nature of a storm,
Even death and fear and war
Is a cycle that is sure
Placating nomenclature
Is the only offered cure

Hurricanes get human names
So they won’t intimidate us
Or hint to us of fate
How we’re lacking in our faith
Or how we’d rather be sedate
Then feel the pain
That reminds us we’re alive
And helps us stay that way
Now, tell me who’s insane
The ones who feign their strength
Or those admitting they’re afraid



Nicole Kiss is an explorer of art forms. With a BA in Music and Psychology from Greenville College, she utilizes music, poetry, and drawing to express her struggles with depression, anxiety, and lupus. She hopes to someday pursue a degree in counseling to help others and pass on the creative coping she’s picked up along the way.


This poem is intended to be a spoken word/performance piece; at some point in the near future, hopefully we’ll be able to collaborate again with Nicole and post a recording of her performing!

For more information about PTSD, check out NIMH’s rundown.

Anxiety & Panic Disorders


By Veronica Rosenberger

my chest is a woven steel cage
my heart screams as it beats against the bars

my shirt clings to slick skin
sweat drips in stereo over the ridges of my spine

my muscles are pulled tight
my legs quake from tension, tension about to snap

air is squeezed from my lungs
I gasp, I gulp but the vacuum screams in its strength

my tongue is thick in my razor throat
tendons pulled taut like strings on a nightmare harp

the metal box of my chest shrinks
squeezing, straining, succumbing to the vacuum

my stomach swirls and boils
acid licks my razor throat, burns my metal box chest

the world tilts, spinning faster
my body loses its tether and lists like a toppling ship

fire races up and down my arms
my cheeks burn as my brain sizzles in my skull

my fingers flop useless and numb
veins constrict and my toes die at the ends of brick feet

forehead knotted to clamp eyes closed
I see my body sweat and shake, I see my dying star implode

rationality claws at the back of my brain
scraping and scratching, slapped back into silence as the war rages on

blackness clamps down on my heart
my body is crushed, eyes bulging, mouth open, everything—stops.



Veronica Rosenberger graduated from Gettysburg College in 2013 and will be starting the MA program for Forensic Psychology at George Washington University in August of 2017. A strong advocate for mental health awareness, it was her undergraduate English honors thesis on monster literature that ultimately pointed her towards her new field.

For more information about panic disorders, please check out the features at ADAA and NIMH.

Anxiety & Panic Disorders · Depression

Falling Off Bridges

By Maggie Felisberto

I think too much about falling
off bridges into heavy traffic
I think too much about being hit full-
speed by an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer to be considered healthy

to be considered sane or normal

I hate myself sometimes, because of my inability
to do simple things like
read the books I’m supposed to be reading
writing the papers I’m supposed to be writing

depressed since December
severely impacting my life. I hate that
when I’m not depressed,
my anxiety over the depressive episodes is so high that I’m
equally nonfunctional.

I’ve picked up nervous ticks and habits…
scratching the back of my hand,
pulling at my hair,
tugging at my clothes.

beyond anything, there is no one
no one to check my fraying edges,
to pour wax on the loose threads of my soul.
I crave physical touch and intimacy,
crave the deep, quenching connection that comes from
two parched minds finding oasis in each other.
I crave, and crave, and crave, and am
never satisfied.

If I were to jump off a bridge, I would jump
into water.
Not heavy traffic…
I don’t know why,
but I guess I feel fated to end in front of a speeding car.


This is a found-poem, with all lines taken and adapted from Maggie Felisberto’s private journal, from three different issues dated from February through April 2017.

If you or a loved one are feeling suicidal, please reach out for help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 in the United States.