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Hillman’s Demons: A Poem on Depression

By Chris Reed | Featured Contributor

James Hillman told me
the demons will come
at night in old age,
and will settle
on my bed,
on my chest,
in my hair,
in my head,
in my guts,
and prod me awake.

Befriend them he says.
They are your demons.
They are here to help.
And know you are 
enough worn with years
to be not afraid.

Drink tea.
Pay heed.

If you look them in the eye,
know you’ll soon be gone,
so don’t care what they think,
they will give you quarter
and disarm.

Then you can hold them close,
like children,
with sharp claws and teeth,
and comfort them.
For their torments are yours;
their shadows are your shadows.

Hand in hand in the night,
no one is afraid of the dark.

Author’s Note: This poem is about my experience and management of depression—specifically how I wake up in the early mornings with free-floating anxiety roaring around my head. The title is in reference to James Hillman, the American psychologist and Jungian therapist.

Author Bio


Chris Reed is a registered arts therapist and teacher based in the UK with over 30 years experience of outdoor education and group-work in the UK, EU, and USA. His blog, Moving Space, works with art as a way to explore and express personal and shared experience, bringing together approaches from the arts therapies and experiential and outdoor education.

Chris’ Blog:

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22 replies »

  1. Your poetry reminded me of the tormented days and nights I struggled with over 40 years ago. This poem is well crafted and well versed. Thanks so much for a vivid description of depression and anxiety. Always the best for you.

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