Tuesday, May 20, 2014

depression, acute

how do i tell her
it may get darker,
the night longer—

what i know
from my hollow
and vacant days?

the night may stretch you
than you ever thought
you could be stretched

by damp sheets
twisted at your wrists, elbows,
knees, ankles—

and you welcome it.
because getting up

and facing the day
feels like
a vortex of mud
and shrapnel

covered in bits of
your flesh
and blood—

pieces of you
in action.

and now
you are stuck
to inaction.

you don’t know
or where you will find
the switchblade
to cut yourself
from its mocking

to begin your life

i don’t mean
it’s hopeless;
i never mean that.

i just know
to face the day

cooks longer
on the grill

some pre-packaged smile
someone will try to hand

like a flippant curse
to your inability
to rise above
and simply “be happy” now.

as if they have some idea
that depression and happiness
are not even at war

you’re caught
in the fallout,
the aftermath.

like a personal chernobyl,
the long-term effects
are still being accounted for.

but i tell her
you can
i did—

and move the blade
a little closer.

© 2014 Jennifer Wagner


  1. a personal chernobyl...a vortext of mud and schrapnel and bits of your flesh...dang...vivid...intense and all too real you know....breath taking ending as well...

  2. Ooh Jennifer, this was a delightfully dark piece delineating that melancholic state that makes zombies out of us...great work, love the diction!!!!

  3. if you're not happy take a pill. if you're too loopy take a pill. if you're too heavy take a pill. too many damned messages out there.

    delicate and, yes, sharp, Jen ~

  4. Thanks for this sis. I needed to hear it. Knowing you can do it, and did it, and still are doing - makes me believe I can do the same. Love you.

  5. This intense, visceral piece is expressed with real depth and honesty. The message is not sugar-coated, but there is hope – more so, I think, because you have articulated acute depression, truthfully and with empathy. There is a great line in the book, To Kill a Mockingbird: “You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” I believe you have conveyed that sense of “really knowing” brilliantly here, Jennifer. Thank you for bravely sharing this with others.

  6. there is definitely comfort in the darkness and the nothing; it can be easy to get lost in them...when the other option is being torn apart on a battlefield very few can comprehend. it is nice to know that the light is possible...quite encouraging...even in the comfort of the dark. lovely piece.

  7. I specially admire this part:

    ike a personal chernobyl,
    the long-term effects
    are still being accounted for.

    I have not suffered a deep depression but I know with help & medication, it can be overcome ~ This sears deeply as I am aware this is coming from a personal experience ~ One of your best Jennifer~


  8. In my experience, it cuts itself loose, in time. One day, the color is back in the world, as inexplicably as it left.

  9. So deep and gripping like the depression...after reading your poems the only thing I can think is that where do you get your thoughts from? Who inspires you to write so powerful. If possible share the secret. May be after some years of practice we might get to write a little bit like you. :)

  10. I love your message to her here - it's full of realism but also hope because you're letting her know that you did it. This was written with a heavy heart, but also a hopeful one :)

  11. Wow! Incredible imagery and an excellent illustration of the combat, casualty and carnage of depression. I loved reading it.

  12. depression is tough... and def. you just cannot press a button and smile... a colleague of mine suffers from depression and i know it can get really dark at times - though i have seen windows open and color flooding back in again

  13. Never will I ever will this to happen to someone. You are right. It's a personal Chernobyl.

    Thought provoking write.

    Thank you

  14. Oh wow, how gripping! Beautiful, dark, intense.

  15. To those who know depression, your words haunt and heal-the hurt is real and can hardly be described but you've done a fine job of expressing it here Jennifer. In Psalm 40, it's called being left in a pit, but encouragingly, a way out of the pit is also described.

  16. Love the pure, deep honesty and wisdom here, Jennifer, and how you bring us in. You're listening to us and providing hope.

  17. ah... hopeful to the end... worked with teens on and off through the years... I hear their cry in your words


Thank you for your thoughts!