text by Sabrina Benaim
Mom, my depression is a shapeshifter
One day it's 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"
But when I see a candle, I see the flesh of a church
The flicker of a flame
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 die
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 visiting from out of town that depression felt obligated to invite to the party
Mom, I am the party, only 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 sometimes I would have wanted to go
It's just not that fun having fun when you don't want to have fun, Mom
You see, Mom, each night Insomnia sweeps me up in his arms, dips me in the kitchen in the small glow of the 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, but 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 that I cannot baptize myself in
Mom says, "Happy is a decision"
But my happy is as hollow as a pin pricked egg
My happy is a high fever that will break
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 Mom I am afraid of living
Mom I am lonely
I think I learned that when Dad left how to turn the anger into lonely the lonely into busy
So when I say I've been super busy lately I mean I've been falling asleep watching SportsCenter on the couch
To avoid confronting the empty side of my bed
But 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 just a careless tourist here
I will never truly know everywhere I have been
Mom still doesn't understand
Mom, can't you see
That neither can I