There is something mysterious about selecting shells from the sea side – something treacherous about picking up fragments and trying to reassemble something of the ocean in your palm. No one was made to hold that much power – even rock pools lose their water at low tide.
But there exists another kind of power. It forces deception and silence, so I lie with my mouth and tell the truth on my arms. It’s the only way I can get the words out in this desperate hush, in this mind-numbing dull lull from days into haze… But it does not always come quietly. Sometimes it is birthed painfully, screaming and bleeding on the kitchen floor – scissors still in hand that severed the vein you mistook for an umbilical cord…
Dear Depression, you are a beast without a face. You have clawed for my attention and it seems you’ve got your way, but I’ve been told that just because I’ve named the monster doesn’t mean it can be tamed. You stole my name the day you were born. The only thing I ever knew for sure, now you’re the question mark that curves my throat and for once… I want to hang my head without your noose. My name is gone and I wonder if I am too. I have become you. So I tattoo “hope” on my skin because if seeing is believing then it’ll be a little easier to look at myself without wanting to be sick – without wanting to drain the vision from my eyes like liquid.
You are the object blocking the sun, so I find sanity in my shadow. You are dark. You are the black of coal before the fire starts. You are the spark of a lighter to the pitch I kiss – smoking chains of tar, trying to find my way, tying my paved throat to the bar on the ceiling, praying that heaven feels the tugging when I squirm. How much do I have to burn before my smoke signals reach the sky? Fact is, the hotter a fire rages the higher the smoke will rise. I’m going up in flames still very much alive. You are dark. But sometimes you are light – burning and blinding.
You have cut me down to size so I have learned to pray on my knees, asking God why you won’t let me sleep. I know you better than my secrets know my 3am sheets. You have made me more interested in the anatomy of distance than I have ever been. I measure everything. The distance from my bed to the floor. The distance from my floor to the medication. The distance from my medication to the shower because I need to clean again-again as if scrubbing my skin will purge this disease. The distance from myself… to the last time I knew myself, is immeasurable.
On the day the pills begin to work – when they finally grip fiercely at my insides like a mechanic with a ratchet on a rampage out to fix and tighten and hit and fasten till his muscles give way to metal… on the day they take hold, I feel myself seep back into my skin like a forever dripping tap that’s finally stopped trickling its soul down the drain. I learn to punch my own fists into my own mouth to force the wind and words out. I stretch out my arms toward my own heart and ask: “My darling, are you OK?”
And for the first time I feel fine to say: “No, I’m not, and I haven’t been for a while. But tomorrow will be better.”