Cerowyn Browne: Nizam Speaks

In his spoken poem, Nizam relates his journey through depression. Here, Cerowyn Browne asks him about his experience, what he has learnt from it and how his faith has helped him.

Nizam with his head in his hands

Nizam is a school teacher and poet from London, and wrote this poem when he was struggling with depression. I had the chance to interview him over the phone about his poetry and his experiences with his mental health. He told me that around the time he wrote this poem he was finding it extremely hard to explain to others how he was feeling. He felt that few people he reached out to understood what he was experiencing and therefore poetry provided a way for him to express himself. Through writing and performing his poetry he could share how he felt with people he would have otherwise struggled to. 

I asked Nizam about the line in his poem (in the video above) “I know I’ve not been acting like a man should”, and whether he felt that the pressure of what a man “should” be has impacted his mental health. Nizam said he felt that it had and that he believes this pressure has a huge negative effect on young men. He said, “I guess men feel they have to be strong and hold it together, not show any weaknesses. I think it’s a lot about pride, their pride prevents them from opening up about how they feel”. With suicide being the highest cause of death amongst young men this is clearly a huge issue. Therefore, as well as the personal therapeutic effect his poetry has, Nizam also hopes to be able to raise awareness and reach out to others who might be going through the same experiences.

In this poem it is clear how important faith is to Nizam and his journey through depression. I asked Nizam about the refrain which he repeats several times, “Why haven’t you healed me?”. I wondered whether he felt his experience with depression affected his beliefs. Nizam told me the poem was actually based on a Psalm in which a man is struggling with feeling that God has forsaken him, but in the end he has faith that God will help him through his pain.

My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”  (Psalm 42:3)

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.  (Psalm 42:11)

Nizam said he felt this Psalm perfectly represents his own experience. “At the time I was really frustrated and I didn’t understand. I wanted to express how I was wrestling with a few things around my faith. But having my faith is what got me through and I know it is what helped me in the end.”

As well as being a school teacher Nizam is a leader in his Church. Towards the end of his poem he deals with how the pressures of being a good leader can make it hard to open up because you feel you have to show that you are stable. Nizam told me however, that he believes it is important for leaders to show weakness and that they are human. Demonstrating your vulnerability means that people can relate to you and makes you a better leader. He said “You don’t have to have everything worked out, because everyone is a work in progress.”

I asked Nizam what he is up to now and what his plans are for his poetry in the future. 

“I am hoping to write more material and keep performing, although it’s hard with a full-time job. But I should have another poem coming out soon and another video is being edited at the moment.”

Overall, Nizam feels that his faith, medication and opening up to people were all vital in working through his depression. I look forward to his new video and hope he manages to keep writing despite the full-time job! 

Keep up with Nizam on youtube and social media…

Related Stories

unvisited tree in the mist

Group Poem: Unvisited 'Unvisited' written by Joan Ellis, Rachel Burton, Juliet Mcdonald and Shirin Teifouri. Photo by Juliet Mcdonald. In particular, Connected...