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.
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 life sparks a memory younger than noon;
i am standing beside her open casket,
it is the moment i realize
every person i ever come to know will someday die.
i’m not afraid of the dark, mom.
perhaps that is part of the problem.
mom says: i thought the problem was that you can’t get out of bed?
anxiety holds me 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.
i am the party, mom.
i am a party i don’t want to be at.
mom says: why don’t you try going to actual parties? see your friends.
sure, i make plans.
i make plans but i don’t want to go.
i make plans because i know i should want to go,
i know at some point i would have wanted to go,
it’s just not that much fun having fun when you don’t want to have fun.
insomnia sweeps me up into his arms,
dips me in the kitchen by the small glow of stove light.
insomnia has this romantic way of making the moon feel like perfect company.
mom says: try counting sheep.
but my mind can only count reasons to stay awake.
so i go for walks, mom,
my stuttering kneecaps clank like silver spoons held in strong arms with loose wrists,
they ring in my ears like clumsy church bells,
reminding me i am sleepwalking on an ocean of happiness i cannot baptize myself in.
mom says: happy is a decision.
my happy is a high fever that will break.
my happy is as hollow as a pin-pricked egg.
mom says i am so good at making something out of nothing,
and then flat out asks me if i am afraid of dying.
i am afraid of living.
mom, i am lonely.
i think i learnt it when dad left;
how to turn
the anger into lonely,
the lonely into busy.
so when i tell you: i’ve been super busy lately.
i mean: i’ve been falling asleep watching sports center on the couch
to avoid confronting the empty side of my bed.
my depression always drags me back to my bed
until my bones are the forgotten fossils of a skeleton sunken city,
my mouth a boneyard of teeth broken from biting down on themselves.
the hollow auditorium of my chest swoons with echoes of a heartbeat,
but i am a careless tourist here;
i will never truly know everywhere i have been.
mom: still doesn’t understand.
can’t you see?
neither do I.