Alone

Alone
By Edgar Allan Poe

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were-I have not seen
As others saw-I could not bring
My passions from a common spring-
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow-I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone-
And all I lov’d-I lov’d alone-
Then-in my childhood-in the dawn
Of a most stormy life-was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still-
From the torrent, or the fountain-
From the red cliff of the mountain-
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold-
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by-
From the thunder, and the storm-
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view-

Born during the early 19th century, Edgar Allen Poe’s characteristic mood swings were probably symptoms of Poe suffering from bipolar depression which may have led to his alcoholism and other self-destructive behaviors. Poe exhibited many of the symptoms of a man who suffered from mental illness. Trauma can cause mood disorders, and Poe was orphaned at a young age. He was also believed to be an alcoholic, likely the cause of his untimely death at the age of 40. When his beloved foster mother died in 1829, he wrote perhaps one of his most famous poems about depression, “Alone.” The poem illustrates loneliness associated with depression that leaves many feeling disconnected from others.

Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. However, mental illness affects everyone directly or indirectly through family, friends or coworkers. Despite mental illnesses’ reach and prevalence, stigma and misunderstanding are also, unfortunately, widespread. That is why each year, the first week of October (October 4-10 in 2020) has been set aside for raising awareness of mental illness. Each year, mental health professionals focus on  educating the public, fighting stigma, and providing support.  While mental health conditions are important to discuss year-round, highlighting them during Mental Illness Awareness Week provides a dedicated time for mental health advocates across the country to come together as one unified voice. Since 1990, when Congress officially established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week, advocates have worked together to sponsor activities, large or small, to educate the public about mental illness.

Below are only a few of the reasons why it’s important to take part in promoting awareness for Mental Illness Awareness Week. Please use these facts and others to encourage discussions about mental health.

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  • 1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
  • Mental illness affects:
    • 37% of LGBTQ+ adults
    • 27% Mixed/Multiracial adults
    • 22% of American Indian or Alaska Native
    • 20% of White adults
    • 17% of Latinx adults
    • 16% of Black adults
    • 15% of Asian adults
  • Annual prevalence among U.S. adults, by condition:
    • Anxiety Disorders: 19.1% (estimated 48 million people)
    • Major Depressive Episode: 7.2% (17.7 million people)
    • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: 3.6% (estimated 9 million people)
    • Bipolar Disorder: 2.8% (estimated 7 million people)
    • Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.4% (estimated 3.5 million people)
    • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: 1.2% (estimated 3 million people)
    • Schizophrenia: <1% (estimated 1.5 million people)

Remember, people with mental illness need your support, not your pity. Talking to friends and family about mental health problems can be an opportunity to provide information, support, and guidance. People with mental health problems deserve respect, compassion, and empathy.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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