10th October is World Mental Health day. Depression is something that many of us will experience at some point in our lives, but is still something of a stigma, with many people feeling they need to manage on their own. I’ve tried to encapsulate a little of what it feels like.

You ought to know I put the washing on

In those few hours when you both were gone

And I, left in my usual cocoon –

The emptiness I craved, my cosy tomb,

With none to disappoint or to offend

None to stand screaming devil tears

When I’d forgotten something never said,

A friend uninvited, a party not arranged

For not-your-birthday, for failing time and time again

To bear you a living playmate like the rest,

And never knowing how to treat a guest.

None to set a stony face, resentment showing clear

That belies the words – “Your mother’s not herself,”

Oh you try, you try:

But I can feel the hollowness of the words I hear

And wonder if you really believe them.

And none to scold me gently on the phone:

“I haven’t seen you, it’s a shame,”

A clumsy ‘how are you’ that sounds like a j’accuse

And I retreat with some mumbled excuse.

No people to offend, stand in their way,

Park badly in the next-door parking bay,

Miss their invisible disability

Or fail to know they’re worthier than me.

No-one suffers the fact that I exist.

And so you went, left me alone

Gave me the space I begged for

“You don’t have to do anything”

And I can’t believe that either:

Or bear for to see you paper calmly over the cracks

To do the Herculean tasks that I can’t face,

And all without an effort, without sound,

While selfish me lounges tearfully around,

Too lazy to know what brings me to this state.

And so I did the washing, proved my worth,

Put towels on the line, and rinse, repeat,

Made beds with laundered, fresh-air-smelling sheets

In the hope that it might, just perhaps, atone

For all the hours I have been undone

And answering ‘What’s wrong?’

With ‘I don’t know’ –

Small gratitudes that your clean T-shirts show.


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