Poetry and Prozac: Alumna Maya Williams ’18 Smashing The Stigma

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month!

Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, race, gender or background.  Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues. Every year thousands of individuals die by suicide.

As part of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we’ve been sharing resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly stigmatized topic.  Alongside other organizations and alliances (like NAMI, to name one!) we plan to continue to reach out to those affected by suicide, share their stories, raise awareness around mental illness, and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services.  


Today, we feature poetry by MSW Alumna, Maya Williams MSW ’18.  Maya (they/she) is a Black and Mixed Race suicide survivor residing in Portland, Maine. Maya graduated from UNE’s MSW program in 2018 and is a low residency MFA candidate for Randolph College. Maya has published poems in glitterMOB, The Portland Press Herald, Black Table Arts, Occulum, Homology Lit, and more. They are a Best of the Net Nominee and a winner of PortFringe’s Patron’s Choice Award for their spoken word showcase “When Speaking to An Extraterrestrial” in 2019. You can find Maya hosting open mics Tuesday nights and facilitating writing workshops Sunday mornings all on Zoom.   Learn more HERE

Alumna, Maya Williams MSW ’18

Image from Frost Meadow Review

 “I hope that we can continue to talk about mental health and suicide awareness.  We especially need to talk about suicide awareness as a public health issue for marginalized communities; it’s more than just sharing a hotline number.  Mental health care needs to be accessible and making social services more accessible plays a huge role in increasing mental wellness.”  – Maya Williams

If anyone is interested in booking Maya for a mental health and poetry workshop, just ask!  Follow Maya’s work at mayawilliamspoet.com

Before Taking Prozac for the First Time

weeks is a long time
to wait
for a change

years was much
than that

phone call
with Dad
wasn’t great

At least
your calls
with Mom and stepmom
were better

The headaches will feel
like a watermelon
being split

Haven’t you had
many slices
before this?

I’ll have to grieve
the way
my brain
used to be

Whether it’s fluoxetine
or another med later
maybe you won’t have
to grieve at all

Two Weeks After Taking Prozac for the First Time

What is the difference
between the reality
of the pills
and the reality
of my life?

Who is
to say
they aren’t
one in
the same?

My anxiety
has sparked me
for so long
I’m not as productive
as before.

the day
you finally
to be a machine.

It was so hard
to wake up
a few

it was
wasn’t it?

Maya pursued the Applied Arts and Social Justice Certificate while at UNE. Visit these posts to learn more about how you can use art toward your MSW degree as well!