Depression Interrupted

For days I’ve felt your presence    lurking
just out of sight    hidden in shadows
growing in strength as my mood darkens

tentacles of torment twitch    aching
to touch    a low hiss escapes cruel slit
of a mouth    back arches    skin stretches

shivering with need   ready to pounce    any
minute    now    my melancholy state
the nourishment you crave    and for a moment

I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes    lungs
freeze    inflated    space between us    closes
nothing I can do to stop this    until  

you’re interrupted    a hopeful sound somewhere
in the house    seems to travel through time
to where we are now    is it music or laughter

or both    who can tell    you flail on the floor
lips curl back in pain    there is joy in this home
you cannot control    like a slug bathed in salt

you fold in on yourself    this will not be the night
your misery prevails    the shadows devour
what remains of you now    I go to the source

of that magical sound    who has managed to save
my life once again    without knowing how close
their mum came to the end.

~The H Word~



Confidence, so exuberant
several hours before
sits stunned on the other side
of the room. What happened?
it wonders, rocking gently
back and forth. I wish
I had the answers to make
it feel at ease but I’m just
as confused and bewildered.
Perhaps a hug, a soothing
word might help convince
or reassure this is no-one’s
fault. It happens, too often,
there isn’t much that can
be done. One minute
there’s happiness, belief
in oneself and then it’s gone.
I sidle over, put my arm around
this most fragile of emotions
and whisper, it will be okay.
Tomorrow, is another day.

~The H Word~

If only…

She bats compliments away

like a seasoned tennis pro

tries her best to convince you

why they are untrue.

Compliment her outfit?

She’ll tell you how much it cost

then proceed to point out

all of its flaws

and when she’s feeling vulnerable

you will never know

that’s another emotion

she cannot show.

She’ll talk louder, make jokes,

usually aimed at herself

anything to assure you

she’s in control.

Oh, if only she could let you know

if only she could let you in

maybe then you’d see

just how much she’s struggling.

~The H Word~

2020: My Best Worst Year Ever!

Times are weird, right? In fact, I think we need a new word to describe just how weird things are. No words can capture the magnitude of horror that 2020 has been so far. But, for me, in this bizarre dystopian nightmare that gets worse every day, I see March 2020 as one of the best worst months of my life. Are you crazy? To that I say maybe, but hear me out, there’s a story to tell.

In September 2018, aged 44, I started University. Not only fulfilling a lifelong ambition of pursuing higher education, but studying Creative Writing. A dream come true. I threw myself into learning and found joy in deadlines, essays, word-counts, assessments. It was everything I ever thought it would be. I was in love.

I was (am) also a mother of two and a wife. I may* (*definitely) have been selfish and put my own needs and wants way ahead of those of my family. I feel no shame. This was something I had to do or spend the rest of my life wallowing in regret-filled pools of sadness. I regret nothing.

By the end of 2018, however, I was struggling. My moods were erratic and even the simplest of things would push me into full-blown rage followed by soul-crushing remorse. I went to my doctor to request a hormone test as I was (still am) convinced I was perimenopausal. Whilst they were understanding they thought stabilising my mood was preferable to any hormone-replacement therapy, and they gave me anti-depressants. Was it a co-incidence that reports were highlighting a shortage of HRT medicine, that they were running out? Who knows, but I was so desperate to suppress this Mr Hyde part of me I took them.

We spent the next few months trying to find the right dose. I started low, then went up a little, then a little more, then a little more. Each time I felt some blessed relief only for it to change, leaving me defeated. I should have, in hindsight, stopped there. I should have said they were not working for me and came off them. I think I would have too, if I didn’t then suffer a prolonged period of chronic back pain. It was this episode that almost broke me, and I mean broke.

By the summer of 2019, I was an empty shell of who I used to be. I was running on a potent concoction of opiate-based pain relief and anti-depressants. On one hand, I was still doing my course work, albeit wailing the entire time that I wasn’t good enough and that I couldn’t do it, but I did it. God knows how. But I was in constant pain. My back went into spasms that affected my balance and my right leg would often lose sensation and give way. I attended a friend’s wedding and fell twice. The next day, I fell again, busting my already rubbish knees and crushing my confidence into such a fine powder that it blew away on a sigh, leaving me in the deepest, darkest depression.

I didn’t know I was depressed. That might sound silly to some. Yes, I was on anti-depressants but that was just a mood stabiliser; I wasn’t diagnosed as depressed. Yes, I had a history of mental health issues, but anxiety and panic attacks, not depression. I wasn’t depressed. I was in pain. My medication was increased to 150mg and when that did nothing to lift my mood my doctor conceded they were not working. Only, if I wanted to try something different, I had to come off the medication completely. That scared the absolute shit out of me.

I was afraid and I couldn’t do it. My thoughts were in a dark place and my emotions were raw and exposed. When you’re dealing with chronic pain that is not visible to others it’s all too easy for them to think you are overreacting. That you should just get some exercise, and everything will be okay. Even if that exercise is crippling, not only physically but mentally, because it’s another reminder of how useless and shit you are. Adding depression into the mix, meant I ended up on a path of crushing darkness lasting several months. I knew where it was headed, but I wasn’t strong enough to turn back.

In March this year, I hit rock bottom. I knew if I kept walking this dangerous path, there was no return. I managed to complete my second year of university but in every other way, I was failing. Then, I got a phone call from the mental health department of my local hospital, following up on a previous request for CBT through my doctor. My first reaction was surprise as I couldn’t even remember asking for it. Therapy has always terrified me. Too much to uncover and deal with, but it was like someone offering a hand to show me the way out. I grabbed it with my sweaty, clammy one and didn’t let go.

After I received the call, I decided it was time to reduce my medication. It felt right, and at least I had a weekly therapist appointment (albeit telephone because, worldwide pandemic!) to help me if things got difficult. For the first time, I took things slow. I didn’t rush in and cut back in my usual all-or-nothing way. I spent three weeks reducing and as I did; I emerged from the dense fog that infiltrated my mind, body, my life! As corny as it sounds, I was reborn.

Now, almost four months anti-depressant free, we’ve completed over 12 weeks of CBT and I’m continuing to make progress. There are still mood swings (because hello, perimenopause!) but for every low swing I have, I get to experience the absolute joy of feeling every emotion again. Not just the same monotonous, grey-black, muted version that I was before. Please understand, I am a firm believer that anti-depressants save lives. I know they do. And finding the right one for you is life changing. Should I still have needed them, after coming off, I would have tried a different one. I still would if things change, but, for now, I don’t have to.

There’s still back pain, but it’s a dull-ache, annoying rather than chronic and debilitating. I understand myself better, and thanks to CBT, I treat myself with the same kindness I extend to others. It’s a process, but it’s working. When I think back to last year, it’s like standing at the edge of a massive, dark crater, staring down into its depths. I wonder how far it is to the bottom and how the hell did I crawl my way back up? It’s because I had help. I had someone reaching down and pulling me up. Sure, I still had to do the hard work of putting one foot in front of the other, however; the fact there was someone who understood and would help me if I stumbled, was everything.

So, now you understand why 2020 has been my best worst year ever. Even with the fear, uncertainty, and desperation of worrying about those close to me while a raging virus sweeps the world, and my heart aches for those who’ve lost loved ones, it gifted me my life back. I must see the positive in an otherwise desperate situation. In years to come (hopefully) when we have conversations about this year, everyone will shake their heads, expressing how awful it was. That it’s the year they would rather forget. I’ll nod, share their pain and agree the atrocities of 2020 are best left in the past along with racism, bigots and elite governments willing to sacrifice the many to protect the few. I will also think I can never forget, not for one moment.

~The H Word~

Time Taken

My well had run dry;
arid, barren, producing
nothing but dust
that would fill up my head
and then settle for less
but I’m learning,
to be kinder and stop
long enough to consider
what’s important to me.
I’ve refilled. Ideas run free
even if I can’t catch them all
my bucket’s ready and waiting.
I’m prepared,
and now making amends,
the process never ends,
it’s perpetual, eternal,
enlightened survival.
I now keep up with myself,
so I can be my best self
in the best possible way.

~The H Word~


I would worry too much about the outside
the parts I could not see or feel
except in reflection
these bothered me often.

I am learning to be more concerned
with parts of me that stand a chance
of nurturing and challenging
the parts I hold within.

My mind is calmer than before
my heart is healing bit by bit
my soul is slowly smoothing out
my ruffled edges flatten.

I dare not think I’ve won this fight
I dare not think I have the right
to happiness but I at least address
the possibility, for me.

~The H Word~

Moment to Moment

Take solace in silence
see time as a gift
find patience in waiting
give yourself a chance
leave pressure alone
send worry away
tell tomorrow to wait
let this moment, now
be more than enough
to be thankful for.

NaPoWriMo2020 Day29

Killing Time

What doesn’t kill you
makes you stronger.
A new superpower
to the sacrificed herd.
Or, better still
call them heroes, instead—
our essential front-line
left unprotected and blind
to get on with it all.
No-ones asking
for heroes
or super-fucking-powers.
Just a fighting chance,
enough ventilators
(and masks).
Society’s clutching
its last strand of sanity,
ripped out at the roots
in frustrated rage.
Reality? Should have
its license revoked,
along with the jokers
calling the shots.
I’ve seen horror movies
offer more hope.
Humanity reveals
its tainted underside
reckless protesters
assemble to give
ignorance a chance.
Vague regulations
social distance resistance
encourages the selfish
who couldn’t care less
about the widows they make
for freedom’s sake.
Pandemonium weakens
to washed-out dismay.
Astonishment fades
to shady complacency.
Take a bite of the news,
try and swallow the bile
acerbic indigestion
a bitter reward
for your time.
Truth’s an alien concept
to the trusted elected.
High-born sociopaths
(or game-show hosts)
play with thousands
of lives, the stakes
have never been higher.
It’s no witty affair
when empathy’s scarce.
So, take yourself for a walk
your once-a-day jaunt.
Mind, set a brisk pace
keep depression
at bay, for a while.
It’s killing time.
#NaPoWriMo2020 #Day19

Self-Indulgent Haiku

Moon shine down on me,
bathed in light help me to feel
like I might be real.


Darkness within and
darkness without. How can I
find the light in me?


Low feels like low looks;
sky too high to see the stars,
eyes cast down, searching.


Hope, like a lover
who has been gone for too long;
jilted acceptance.


Cheer up! Chin up! Snap
out of it, smile more. You could
be worse off, you know.


#NaPoWriMo2020 #Day15

Save Yourself

Breathe in
through the nose
breathe out
through the mouth

calm your thoughts
empty your mind
visualise, or not
imagine or forget

choose a guide
or be your own
no wrong way
to save yourself

the choice is yours
no rules apply
take the time
to simply be

in the moment


#NaPoWriMo2020 #Day10

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