Sunday, September 11, 2016


This is a journey with no joy.
It begins when you want to go out
But you can’t even get out of bed,
Even though the pillow is wringing wet
With the rivers of tears that you shed
In your night of weak sleep -
Your death without the commitment -
When, even in your exhaustion,
No dreams may come
Except the dreadful visions
Of living as a stranger
In this most alien of places.

There is injury on this journey
For something is broken
And cannot be fixed.
It’s not so much painful
As it is numb,
So deadened that you’re sick.
And yet, it’s not an illness
Because there’s no cure
That can make you whole
And save you from this seizure,
This cruel cancer of the soul.

There are waters on this journey
In which you are always
On the verge of drowning.
You sink away from the surfers
While others rise to the surface,
Where the distant sunlight dances
For swimmers granted second chances.
How can they break into the brightness
When you’re still under,
Not able to breathe,
Slowly suffocating?
You realise too late
That it was too small –
Your last air intake -
And so you’re stuck there,
Beneath the waves,
Where you sometimes see the sun’s glare,
But you can never feel its warmth.
Meanwhile that insidious sea
Crushes your lungs,
Murdering you from the inside out.

There are rooms on this journey -
Rooms full of people -
Where you alone are alone,
An acrobat balanced on nothingness,
Knowing what comes of nothing.
They lead normal lives,
With ordinary thoughts,
And you observe them
And covet their states of mind
As an outsider,
Speaking in a language forgotten,
Remembering a history forsaken,
And seeing ghosts in every doorway.

But there are other rooms on this journey –
Dark, like dungeons in a vast castle,
In which only you are imprisoned.
Four blank walls –
A gallery of naughts -
And only your thoughts
To amuse you
With their ridiculous refinement –
Symptoms of your madness,
Of self-imposed solitary confinement.

There are deep holes on this journey.
At times the path seems like little more
Than pits and ditches
Full of slime and grime,
Devoid of nature’s pictures.
So steep are the sides,
And so slippery,
There is no chance
Of climbing out.
When, and if,
You reach for help,
No one is there.

There is no colour on this journey
For everything is shaded grey
In your black and white world
Of monochrome infinity.
So all you see seems absent,
‘Though it never fades away.

There is a war on this journey,
One you fight every day.
Sometimes you win
And sometimes it feels
Like you’ll die.
But you stand up
And face this monstrous world,
With its Himalayan inhumanity
And its Amazons of indifference.

There is acting on this journey.
For you are afraid
To be the real you –
Because you’re not even sure
Of your own name any more.
So you paint your clown’s face
And disguise your sorrows
Because everyone knows
It’s really your fault,
It’s what they’ve been taught,
And they will remind you.
Criticism will always find you
While, in every queue
Sympathy is last-placed,
Never ever served,
Never ever deserved.

There is no future on this journey
For you have no focus
And you have no will.
You know you will never
Start anything.
And you know you will never
Finish anything.
It’s a waste of a life,
But you are too overwhelmed
To beat this killing sin,
And, anyway,
You don’t know how to begin.

Acknowledgement:  This poem was inspired by responses to an Instagram post in which I&I Outfitters (a clothing firm with an interest in anxiety, depression and mental health) asked people to describe how depression feels.

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