I have a tattoo on my foot, just one word. Tonight...
A few years ago, maybe 9 or 10, a friend of mine sent me a copy of a book of poems he just had published. I am not the biggest poetry fan, so flicked through them, some were good, some were the exact reason I don't like poetry. There was one that made me cry. I need to be careful how I feel when I read it, or I should say recite it from memory. If I am on the downward slope, I have been known to cry for hours after reading this poem. Nothing I have read before or since then has summed up depression in a way that has touched me like this.
When I was in Sydney, I was very homesick, and just wanted a hug from my friend. It hit its peak on Christmas Day, when I chatted to him online for an hour, then went and cried for 2 hours. The next day I changed my flights home, bringing them forward a few months. On the 30th December, myself and two friends went to the tattoo parlour across the road from our hostel in Kings Cross (very seedy area in Sydney, every other shop is a strip club, and if you stand still long enough, someone will ask if you are working (ask me how I know!)). We went with no set idea of what we wanted, but I knew as I was sat there what mine would have to be.
This poem, while causing me to crumble on bad days, also has a way of empowering me on good days. This is how I felt for months on end, before I was even 16, and I got through it. This is how I have felt for at least three-quarters of my adult life, and I got through it.
Right now I want nothing more than to crack open the bottle of vodka hidden on top of the cupboard, get drunk, pass-out and not have to worry or think about anything. I want to go back to a time when I'd sit in my friends house, getting drunk, smoking ourselves silly, listening to music and talking about films and books and jokes, go to sleep, wake up with mouths like badgers arses, and lie in bed dying, hugging each other for warmth. I miss that more than I could ever express. That is now my every-few-weekly struggle - I am not that person any more, and never will be that person again. I will never be friends like that with him again, and mourn that loss every day.
Tonight by Darren Bailey
Depression is a dangerous word,
Too heavy to admit or carry,
I would rather say sadness,
A big black sadness
That shrouds me from head to heart.
It never sings, but drones,
Always in minor keys,
As the muscles in the face sink
And the eyes flinch from tears.
The body feels small
And the world large,
The person unnaturally fragile
The streets and houses hard.
Usually I don't remember the truth,
But tonight is different.
Tonight I cannot face it.