Voices of Youth: Poems and art on mental health

This article is part of Concentrate's Voices of Youth series, which features content created by Washtenaw County youth in partnership with Concentrate mentors, as well as feature stories by adult writers that examine issues of importance to local youth. In this installment, student Kadiatou Kitagbe Kaba shares her artwork and poetry on the topic of mental health.

Artist statement on the above artwork:

Project title:
Inside Our Mind 
What is this piece of artwork about? It is about a mind that is dealing with depression, anxiety, stress, and the hateful words that accrue in the mind. 

What inspired you to make it? Mental health is a big issue in our community and I just wanted to let the people who are silent about their issues know that they're not alone.

Who are you as an artist? I'ḿ a creative artist and I like to think outside the box and be different from everyone else. I'ḿ able to bring my art to life and I think big when in small situations.

For her Voices of Youth project, Kadiatou also contributed the following suite of four poems on mental health:
  1. Depression
Have you ever been to a dark place?
Sometimes you wake Up there, and some days you go there yourself.
It's the place you can't escape even on your Best days. It's a place that has you locked away and sometimes you get some light through the window of your eyes.
  1. Anxiety
"Think outside the box" is what they tell you. "my body is not where my mind is." Trapped In a Box is like being buried alive. it's hard to breathe, to survive. It's dark alone, it's my new home. It's a closed Dome. I can't get out, I wanna go home.
  1. Stress
The veins in your body are being pulled left to right. It's Draining you, it hurts, you can't think, and your mind is blank. Your mind is like an office with multiple file cabinets, and when you're stressed, that's when it opens. You're running around in your head. Trying to put it all back together, but you can't — there's too much work to do.
  1. Help
Calling for help is like a setup: they take it too far, and they take you away. And you don't know if you will get better. We have seen it all in movies, and in TV shows. they say they want the best for us, but they lock us away and give us meds, and in your mind, you think you're getting better and better every day but you're not. You're intoxicating your body with things you don't need. all you need to do is rant and breathe.

Kadiatou Kitagbe Kaba is a student at Ypsilanti Community High School. Concentrate staffers Yen Azzaro and Sarah Rigg served as her mentors on this project.

To learn more about Concentrate's Voices of Youth project and read other installments in the series, click here.
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