“One day it’s as small as a firefly … The next, it’s the bear” Woman recites stunning poem to explain depression

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Anna Pollitt

A woman who couldn't make her mother understand how she feels with depression has penned a powerful and moving poem explaining the effects of the condition.

Toronto-based poet Sabrina Benaim recited her work Explaining My Depression to My Mother to a live audience on behalf of Button Poetry in November last year.

More than three million people have viewed the video of her performance (you can watch it below), and this week its resurfaced after being shared by Ashton Kutcher on his Facebook page.

A visibly moved Sabrina explains how her depression is a “shape-shifter” that doesn't follow the same pattern.

She compares it to being like a tiny firefly one day and a huge bear another, while anxiety is a “cousin” of depression that holds her hostage

Sabrina Benhaim

Sabrina Benhaim

Sabrina also conveys how universal mood-lifters, such as lighting candles, or counting sheep to get to sleep, are useless in the face of a debilitating disorder.

The Mental Health Foundation estimates that one in four people in the UK experiences some kind of mental health problem over the course of a year.

Sabrina's poem:

My depression is a shape shifter.
One day it is as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear.
The next, it’s the bear.
On those days, I play dead until the bear leaves me alone.

I call the bad days the dark days.

Mom says: "Try lighting candles".
When I see a candle, I see the flesh of a church.
The flicker of a flame, sparks of a memory younger than noon.
I am standing beside her open casket.
It is the moment I learn every person I have ever come to know will someday die.

Besides mom, I'm not afraid of the dark, perhaps that's part of the problem.

Mom says: "I thought the problem was that you can't get out of bed".
I can't. Anxiety holds me a hostage inside of my house, inside of my head.

Mom says: "Where did anxiety come from?"
Anxiety is the cousin visiting from out of town.
Depression felt obligated to bring to the party.
Mom, I am the party.
Mom, I am a party I don't want to be at.

...Mom still doesn’t understand.
Mom, can’t you see?
That neither can I. 

Watch Sabrina give her inspirational definition of depression:

If you're suffering from depression and want someone to talk to, The Samaritans offer emotional support 24 hours a day. They're on 116 123 (UK) 116 123 (ROI) or email


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Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant. The baby is borrowed.

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