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  Jun 2014 Jal Bird
Annabel Lee
[Disclaimer: this is quite long, but bear with me]

Depression is a shape-shifting, ever-present monster. It is a monster that many battle; some slay the beast, others are swallowed whole, sacrificing life and limb to its gaping jaws, but most are stuck in an eternal stalemate, neither winning nor losing.

It takes a different form for everyone. Mine was a deep black bottomless lake that I was trapped in, the dark waves lapping at my neck, threatening to submerge me. It was a dense grey fog, obscuring all of my senses and causing me to heave and choke, unable to catch my breath. It was a python as thick as a tree, squeezing the life out of me, tightening with every move I made. It was a cancer in every one of my cells; a dull ache that couldn't be numbed. It was every one of my worst fears realized, ready to pounce as soon as I woke every morning. It was a constant IV drip paralysing every muscle that I couldn't rip out of my arm.

But despite all the imagery, it was not poetic. It was not lyrical. It wasn't a heroic effort to maintain a grip on reality and sanity; it wasn't a single tear falling onto a love letter. It wasn't how it’s been artfully depicted in movies and songs. There was no plot twist, no knight on a white horse, no epiphany followed by an orchestral swell and rolling credits. It wasn't poetic – it was ***** and lonely and terrifying.

It was dealing with the crippling knowledge that I was absolutely worthless, that if I was to fall off the edge of the earth, it really would not matter; that though people would be sad for a little while if I died, I would eventually be forgotten because in light of Eternity, my existence was truly meaningless. It was night after night of restless, soul consuming insomnia paradoxically paired with bone-deep exhaustion. It was struggling to get out of bed the next morning because the monster was sitting on my chest, weighing me down and grinning evilly in my face. It was giving up – on friends, family, school-work, because I was wearing these blinders that forced me to only see myself and my unworthiness. It was second-guessing my every move, terrified that I would do or say the wrong thing, and people wouldn't like me any more. It was withdrawing into the prison in the depths of my mind, trying to peek out the bleary windows of my eyes but only seeing the monster, pacing and drooling and growling at me.

I contemplated suicide countless times but only attempted it once. It wasn't from a sense of self-loathing or unworthiness, it was because I couldn't bear the ache inside of me, I couldn't bear looking in the mirror every morning, I couldn't bear going out and having to spend time with happy people. I couldn't bear feeling like I didn't matter, that I was only a feeble shadow floating throughout my day. Sometimes I would feel sick, physically sick with the anxiety of having to interact with people, and knowing that I would have to pretend to be okay. And it was hiding, choking, suffocating, pressing down the gaping raw hole inside of me – because, for me, the worst thing about depression is not being depressed – it’s the fear that someone will find out. I was suffering, but there was no way any one could know, I could not would not would never ever let anyone know that I was drowning in a black lake and there was no one to save me. It was no one's burden to bear but my own. My suicidal thoughts weren't about the morbidity of death, they were about the freedom and release from my self-inflicted suffering. Because depression is self-inflicted, whether we like to admit it or not. It is a battle of our soul against our mind.

There were people who would occasionally notice I was "feeling down", or "under the weather" and would ask me if I was okay. And I would always say Yes, though inside my prison I would be screaming and rattling the bars of my cage, yelling No, Help Me, Please. And once in a while I would be given a little note, a syringe of words, Scripture to inject in my veins and chase away the numbness. Still others would tell me “it’s all in your head”, and that was when I wanted to scream YES IT IS BUT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.  People would try to fix me, but I didn't need fixing. (This isn't something you can fix; I was not broken)

I needed someone to lie with me in bed and hold me until I could breathe. I needed someone to hold my hand and never ever let go of me. I needed someone to sit silently with me in the dark, just so I could know I wasn't alone. I needed someone to trust me to be able to fight this monster.
I fight, day in and day out, against the black waters ******* me down. I accept that depression is something that isn't going away right now, and might not ever go away. But I've also come to realize that though this monster may be bigger and stronger and even smarter than me, I am not helpless.
Trying to explain something that millions of people struggle with, something that gets ignored and swept under the rug, labelled as "self-centred", "self-pitying", and "it's all in your head".
Jal Bird Jun 2014
Living is often like drowning, and sleeping like flying,
So bridges and tall buildings always tempt me.
When I talk about death I feel brave.
I've always hated how recognition can so easily turn into pride.
They say pride comes before the fall,
But I believe that various kinds of self-centeredness are the origin of all unholy descents.
I remind myself that I shouldn't take my life because I didn't give it,
And my heart continues to beat on its own.
Blood doesn't stain crimson red,
It darkens and crusts on the skin.
Everything that is dead becomes only a memory,
Then it disintegrates and washes away, eventually becoming nothing.
I can’t remember anything from before I had the ability to reason,
So when did I come alive?
I wonder if all people valued beauty,
Would there be peace?
Because I sometimes wonder whether Neil Armstrong meant to say what he did as took his first step on the moon.
I think trying is as valuable as doing,
But justification is a dangerous tool.
I am cautious of failure and success;
But count this as my eulogy
A list of things that I am going to say before my untimely death.
*I recognized the world for the canvas it was and I didn't waste my life.
My dreams were my motivation,
And they were fueled by those that underestimated me
I walked streets day and night and prayed that I would somehow run into the girl of my dreams,
and when I finally found my missing rib I looked at her like she was a piece of art that I just couldn't keep my eyes off of.
I suffered and I found its nectar bitter-sweet.
I didn't get the best of life, but then I made the best of life.
I never stopped caring,
my love for the unlovable made me daring.
I trusted too easily so I was always broken.
I always found things to love, but they never loved me,
But despite it, I still loved, hard, even though it hurt me.
I couldn't comfort because I had never been comforted.
After a lifetime of battling myself, I finally took off my crown of thorns.
I didn't let the past get the best of me,
I gave the future all of me.
I hated animosity,
War was despicable to me,
And I always preached peace.
I prayed constantly that my efforts would not be in vain.
I never actually could stop sinning,  but despite my ugly sins, I never stopped straining.
I was not perfect, but I did the best I could.
I never ceased to hear the music.
I still played, even when I felt like I was playing solo, I still played my part in this symphony of life.
My eyes were aimed at the director, and we played through the storm,
We played even when all hell was against us,
We played, and played, and played
Until eternity came through.....
Jal Bird May 2014
Whisper, whisper but I can still hear you.
Your eyes tell it all.
You don't even know me and you don't even care. It's people like you who ****** onto me a two ton weight that kept me from walking tall all these years.
It's people like you that ignited a feeling of torment for the unrelenting realization that I will never escape people’s stares.
Days like these I wonder why, friends aren't friends and everything seems like a lie.
“I never asked to exist”, (words that echo through my head every time someone falls from exceptional to unbearable) .
You don't have the courtesy to talk behind my back, instead you boldly break me with your tacks; tacking your words onto my skin, until my pride and self-worth wears thin.
That’s why on weekends I would sometimes cage myself in my room because though I was not free, I was at least free from your gazes, and though I was not living, at least I was alive.
I stayed inside because outside there were wolves and I refused to be a meal. I've seen what they do to their prey, cornering, growling in order to strike fear, battling with their eyes, and then they consume them until all that is left, are bones.
This is what they do,
and many of us can attest to their brutality.
  May 2014 Jal Bird
ThisIsMe
As twilight softly kisses the horizon
I skip down the street fighting my uncomfortable green school uniform
My 6 year old dreams keep me dawdling every couple skips
Taken captive by the resilient flowers that grow amidst these trash ridden streets
Like little shreds of hope they peek out just above the cigarette butts and plastic bags that litter these dirt roads
I stop to muse for a moment until the cold water that is reality splashes me in the face and
I realize I must get home before its too dark
So I run until I step inside our gates where I decide to give my little lungs a break
And there you sit in your guard house
You smile a smile the Cheshire cat would be jealous of then beckon me to come to you
And having been taught that disobedience is wrong and obedience to ones elders is imperative
And you not being a stranger
I walk to you
And I feel your rough ice cold fingers clamp around my arm
Yet I refuse to afraid because my logic tells me you are our guard, here to protect not to harm
But then you strip me of my clothes and of my innocence
You devour my self-worth for your selfish gain
And with your stale beer breath, you tell me to go home and tell no one
As I walk away, I reject the tears that try to form
No longer filled with dreams of 6 year old things
Feeling nothing but brokenness and the cold place right below my shoulder where you gripped my arm
I see a little flower peeking out from beneath the cracks
And I make a point to step on it
  May 2014 Jal Bird
Jonny Angel
We,
you & me,
are co-creators
of heavenly artwork,
sacred patterns of intimacy
& on your porcelain canvas,
I brush my paint
this starry night.
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