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I sit across the dinner table from my mother,
A wan smile dangling off my lips like a board bending under the strain of its load.
I turn to the mirror on the wall to glance at my face,
All made-up for an evening out,
Like a porcelain mask protecting the world from me and vice versa.
I pick at my chicken, trying to put on the air of lightness.
I wonder if the lines on my skin show the effort of maintaining this façade.
I chew without tasting,
But when I go to swallow, it is stuck to my mouth like peanut butter.
I’m so filled to the brim with sadness that my body
Does not physically have room for this food, this nourishment.
And that is the curse of depression.
People describe depression as drowning invisibly.
The truth is more like you drank the entire pool.
The chemical, urine, dirt infested water tucks into every crevice and cranny,
Fills every pore.
As it runs down your throat, you can feel your lungs fill up,
The water creeping ever higher,
And you know without a doubt that your time is running out,
Slipping away like sand through your fingers.
It’s killing you.
You can feel your will dying.
There is no more room for oxygen,
No space left for food,
Nowhere for happiness to inhabit your body.
No room or desire for the sustenance that can lift you from this abyss.
Everything around you screams to swim,
But how can you swim when the water is internal?
How can you float when the drowning is from the inside out?
If they notice your coughing and sputtering or the way your stride is heavier than most,
If they see the herculean effort it takes to roll out of bed,
Observe the way food no longer has room in your stomach,
They will try to help you swim.
They will give you flippers and goggles and a life preserver.
All that will be accomplished is you floundering on dry land in ridiculously unhelpful garb,
And you will still drown slowly
Because this demon isn’t around you.
It’s inside you,
And no matter how hard we wish it,
Some masses aren’t removeable.
Some damage is irreparable.
Sometimes you can’t stop the bleeding because the bleeding is too deep inside to be visible to the wandering eye.
And sometimes, when you’re drowning, swimming will not save you.
So I sit at dinner,
Sinking farther and farther into the floor,
Tearing shreds where my chest used to be
Until there is almost nothing left of me inside.
It’s just water.
111 lbs of water I can’t swim through.
111 lbs of water I’m tasked with carrying across the floor in a manner that looks like walking,
111 lbs of liquid saturated with air I cannot breathe and debris I cannot remove,
But I sit.
I sit, and I smile,
So insouciant in appearance
While my body aches with the strain of composure,
The anchor of my conversation and smile and movement of fork to mouth,
And the funniest part is that as the water pushes out every bit of me,
There is nothing I would rather shed than my skin,
No thing I’d rather flush from my system than myself,
But I’m stuck
Because I’m drowning in water no one can see.