On Depression: Explaining My Mental Illness in a Prose Poem
Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.
It coils itself to strike without so much as a warning rattle, fangs dripping with poison and ready to dart into flesh, retract, leave its venom to do the dirty work.
It sneaks up on you in the dark or in the light, a shadowless creature because it’s made of darkness, sucking the light out of life. It doesn’t make its presence known until it’s too late, too hard to turn and run.
It sinks its claws into your soul and won’t retract, and the only way to be free is to rip, rip, rip until a part of you is gone, forever in its clutches.
It is invincible, the king of the night, the harbinger of doom, the thing that stalks your thoughts and learns your patterns and serial kills its way through whole communities.
It sees you when you’re sleeping … it knows if you’ve been good or bad … and then it tells you you’ve been bad, so bad, the very worst, and it’s time to punish yourself.
It convinces you that the blade or the pills or the sex or the smoke will finally make you happy again, will wash you clean of all your wrongdoings, but once it’s over all you feel is dirty in your soul.
It appears when you least expect it, sneaking from your mind and winding its way through your body, until you’re racked with pain and sore and tired and numb and every thought is just … I can’t.
It finds your weakness and exploits it, but your weakness will not be your undoing.
My weakness cannot be my undoing.
I will find a way. When it coils to strike, I will cut off its head. When it sneaks up, bringing darkness, I will shine a light brighter. When it tries to rip off my soul I will perform feats of magic to unhook it and remain intact.
I will not listen to the lies, the ones that overcome me, the ones that hiss, You should die, you should die, you should die.
It made me think death was my idea, my desire, the only way to save myself and others. It made me think the world would spin happier, spin brighter, if my breath were stilled. It made me think, just yesterday it made me think, that if my veins bled themselves dry then maybe I would be redeemed for my mistakes.
It made me think the only way to atone for sin is with my own blood. It made me think everyone’s unhappiness stems from my existence.
I will not, I cannot let it have its way with me.
My soul is weary, my heart sick, and all I want is to curl up and cry until I can be better. All I want is to eradicate myself and maybe let something new be born in my place.
I am weak. The world itself has sharp claws and they drag across my flesh, and when the blood runs it convinces me that is my fate.
But I will not let my weakness be my end.
I will gather what strength I have. I will fight. Till my dying breath, I will rage against the beast that seeks to best me. I will not go silently. I will not go at all.
My death will not be caused by my own hand. It cannot be. It will not be.
It coils to strike. I raise my blade.
Its head streaks forward. I drop my blade.
And in the end, I stand and it dies.
Follow this journey on the author’s blog.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via castenoid.