Poem by Halle Preneta — 5/28/23
This huge, overbearing, dark, fuzzy creature to constantly fear.
But it isn’t.
My depression is static electricity.
It is the hairs rising on the back of your neck,
the shaking of your hands,
the prickling fear on your skin.
It buzzes like a bee near your ear
that you’re constantly swatting away
even when you know it will never go away.
It lives in the background of my world,
always making its presence known at the most inconvenient times.
Always getting its stage cues wrong.
Always dragging me down with it
whenever it got into trouble.
Depression was not gifted to me but thrust upon me.
As the youth might say nowadays,
“I didn’t choose the depression life,
The depression life chose me.”
And being the ‘chosen one’ is hard.
But my depression also taught me how to live
and I know all of you are probably thinking,
“But how? I thought it wanted to murder you?”
Yes, it did.
It wanted me to die so much that it convinced me it was the only option I had.
But that’s the thing, it was wrong.
Because everyday when I woke up at camp to feel the cool breeze of Ohio summer at 6am,
feel the goosebumps on my skin, the rising hairs, the shutter down my neck,
I would thank nature for existing, for keeping all of those species alive and well.
Because everyday I worked with my little 5 year olds,
watched them make up stories before their very eyes;
Fairies were real, mermaids were real, the rocks could talk if you drew a face on them,
they gave me this sliver of hope
that in this cloudy, grey, stormy world
there can still be so much brightness.
Because everyday I had the hot, beating sun pound at my skin all day long,
I was grateful that it was making me sweat my sunscreen off my body
because it proved to my skin that it was still functioning, still breathing, still working.
Because everyday I chose to live was a day my depression lost its fight.
I once told you that suicide is a lot like holding a bag of weights.
The days where they drag behind me, scrape against the concrete,
make me walk slower, my speech only a whisper
you somehow managed to hear through the noise of your life.
I couldn’t believe you the day you told me that there was so much to live for in this world
and everyday, it can feel like the list of reasons to stay gets shorter and shorter
thanks to news outlets and social media and allstu chains
full of screams and the smell of gunpowder and the ringing of bullets.
But I have a list of all the reasons I am staying today.
I stay for the moments my friends make me laugh so much
that my cheeks flush and tears spill from my eyes and I don’t care.
For the moments where I say I need a hug and there is someone there to give me one.
The moments where the birds’ song is what wakes me up in the morning
after getting a full 7 hours of sleep
instead of the lawn mowers at 8am.
The mornings where the light falls on the trees
and I remember how beautiful our world can be.
The days where I walk my way to class and run into the squirrels
with their bushy tails and small black eyes and teeny tiny hands nibbling away at acorns.
The nights where I look up at the stars and see my cousin and my uncle and my aunt.
When my cousin died, he was only 19 years old.
When my uncle died, my grandpa lost the last of his immediate family.
When my aunt died, her husband died a few months after her,
presumably from heartbreak.
And I know space isn’t really a religion
but I like to believe that the stars are the dead watching over us, protecting us
so that when I look up at the sky and see my family twinkling down at me,
telling me to keep moving forward,
The day I recognized my strength, my resilience,
my resistance to depression’s suffocating chokehold,
you told me “I hope you keep choosing to stay.”
Everyday, I get up out of bed confronted with the question
“Will you live today?” popped in front of my face
and, at least for today, right here, right now,
my answer is yes.