They say it’s ok to not be ok.
I am not ok, I am unwell.
This is not ok.
I can’t explain how much it hurts to be alive right now. I’m not looking for attention, I’m not crying into my beer. I’m not sad because things aren’t going my way, or because I feel lonely.
This is different.
I am unwell.
The pain of a true depression is unlike any other pain. It’s suffering without cause. It’s labor without purpose. It’s a cascade of diamonds scattering into a black möbius pit of velvet nothing.
It’s not cold here. It’s not hot here.
It’s exhaustion. It’s a shredding vacuum. It’s shrieking whispers of clarity and doubt.
Imagine feeling guilty because you are wasting your potential – and at the same time certain that you have no potential to waste. Imagine feeling guilty because you are unimportant and forgotten.
I awake tangled in canvas sheets. Pull left… my arm twists. Pull right… my leg bends. I awake trapped in condescending thoughts like a shit-drunk fly in spider silk. I twist, and that hidden black bitch hisses and wrings a thousand oiled hands. I am a juice box for poisoned teeth.
Then I find myself in the shower. A hot droplet slaps my back. I don’t care how I got here, but in the distance it’s warm. It’s something. The water beads on my brows and runs down my face like the tears that never come.
A cup of coffee.
A scrape of toast.
Some distant looping program stuffs my body into the car, out of the car, into the car. Lights pass overhead, asphalt crunches below.
I pick at tasks like hair in floor wax. There is no purpose. There is no goal. I am motivated by an algorithm of upbringing and genetics. The conveyor belt that will dump me into the uncaring yawn of the Earth some unknown dozens of years from now has only one direction, only one gear, one speed.
I eat because I the chemical algorithm corrodes my gut, the overfed loop roars for more.
I’m ashamed to admit defeat, so I paint.
I can’t paint, so I draw.
I can’t draw, so I write.
I can’t write, so I sit.
I can’t sit, so I move.
I find myself at the cotton prison I woke from, and I sigh.
I strain at the tarpaulin prison that holds me in bed, my fatty brain panting like a dog in the summer, telling me I’m cancer, I’m important, I’m rot, I’m a God, I’m a smoking hill of decay, I am courage, I am shingles of detritus on an abandoned millstone, I am a pill for others stuffed with needles and good intention.
I am a loom weight.
I am a loss.
I am a snatched breath.
I am a wind on the hill.
The night dew clings to the grass – and flakes of crystal ice cut into my toes and tear me apart cell by icy cell as my consciousness gives way to predetermined dreams that are as noiseless and painless as the prison I awake to.
The Algorithm of upbringing and genetics and Jesus and school dropped me in a coffee shop in Columbus on a Saturday with a computer, a coffee, and a wifi connection.
I want to play with these thoughts. I want to tease them. I want to take control by saying,
“I see you.”
“I know what you are.”
I am not afraid, I am not courageous. I am a disinterested observer. I want to dangle that hulking lion on marionette strings. I want it to dance through the tall grey grass, but it twists and claws the air like a cat in the bath.
I want to cut the strings, and sit against a tree. I want to watch it through the side of my eye–pretend I don’t see it stalking me. I want to watch its arrow-tipped shoulders rise above its mane as it lowers, pressing into the soil for purchase.
I want to sit — motionless — drawing it out follicle by golden claw.
Ten years, twenty years, forty years from now it will reach the edge of the grass and leap.
I will know it well by then.
I will flinch, or roll, or both.
It will rip, or miss, or both.
I am a drop of ice water in an unresponsive eye.
I am the empty tug on an underwater lung.
I am the smoldering char of forgotten fire in a rainstorm.
They say it’s ok to not be ok.
They have no idea. They don’t know what this is.
They smile and laugh like muted pharmaceutical commercials. They smile in warm sweaters and brass bathtubs, holding hands through the golden hour beneath fireflies and laughing children. They wave sparklers and clink heavy glasses tossed full of ruby wine. They turn moistened eyes to one another, satisfied and full, and tell me in the forgotten tongue of blinking galaxies and spinning stars that they understand, they accept me, they know.
“It’s ok” they say.
“It’s ok to not be ok.”
If this is ok, then… Lion, pounce.
I am a quasar in the dark.
I am a brownian flutter in a forgotten neutrino detector.
I am a puff of molecules.
I am a twist in the kink of a fold.
I am a gate. On a hinge. In a wood.
I am unwell.