Explaining my depression to my mother: a
Mom, my depression is a shape shifter. Ond day it is as small as
a firefly in the palm of a bear. The next it's the bear. On
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 a flame, the sparks of a memory
younger than noon, I am standing beside her open casket. It is
the moment I learn every person I ever come to know will someday
Besides, mom, I'm not afraid of the dark. Perhaps that's
part of the problem.
Mom says, "I thought the problem was that you can't get
out of bed." I can't. Anxiety holds me a hostage inside
of my house, inside of my head.
Mom says, "Where did anxiety come from?" Anxiety is the
cousin from out of town depression felt obligated to bring to the
party. Mom, I am the party only I am a party I don't want to
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 should want to go, I
know sometimes I would have wanted to go, it's just it's
not that much fun having fun when you don't want to have fun,
You see, mom, each night insomnia sweeps me up in his arms, dips
me in the kitchen in the small glow of the stovelight. 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. But my
stuttering kneecaps clank like silver spoons held in strong arms
with loose wrists. They ring in my ears like clumsy church bells
remind me tha tI am sleepwalking on an ocean of happiness I
cannot baptize myself in.
Mom says, "Happy is a decision". But my happiness is as
hollow as a pin pricked egg. My happy is a high fever that will
Mom says I am so good at making something out of nothing and then
flat out asks me if I am afraid of dying.
No! I am afraid of living!
Mom, I am lonely! I think I learned how, when dad left, how to
turn the angry 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 SportsCenter on the couch to avoid going
confronting the empty side of my bed but my depression always
drags my 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 truely know everwhere I have been.
Mom still doesn't understand.
Mom, can't you see? That neither can I.