The Depression Dictionary

Cross posted with permission from Aleah’s blog (found at





Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning. I’m almost finished by drowning. I’ve sunk so far, past sapphire waves with lace edges of white foam, past anything that can be construed as beautiful. I’m down into something darker, something fathomless. For the most part, I’ve stopped kicking, stopped pushing against the pull of the tomb that is the ocean floor.

But moments come when a spark of oxygen reawakens my consciousness and I realize I haven’t died yet.

Instantly, panic. Desperation and a frantic reach upwards. The surface breaks violently and I rise. There’s just enough strength left for me to sip in a breath, enough strength to realize that’s the last bit of it, and the strength is gone. My lungs burn and my muscles pull away from my bones in exhaustion, rejecting to be part of a whole that seeks something more than the end.

Blinking, I see someone above me, standing on a vessel not capsized with the bullets and bombs created by other people’s choices. They lift their arms and eyes into the warmth of the sun.

I hear them inhale, deeply. I try to do the same.

They breathe. I don’t.

Salt fills my every sense, stinging, tearing at any exposed weakness. I’m consumed, a disfigured lump sinking back down into the briny abyss.

Jump. Please, jump.

They don’t. They’re still breathing.

What a luxury it is to breathe.

In 2014, I wrote this definition of what depression meant to me. I was struck by how depression is often sanitized by clinical definitions and muted expressions. I couldn’t find anything that described how I lived my life on a day-to-day basis with a mental illness. We understand that someone loses interest in things, someone has a hard time with self-care, someone may have experienced abuse, but what does this actually look like? After pondering these things, I was fascinated with the idea of creating a comprehensive dictionary of poetry and prose that delves deeper into my own personal experience.

This website ( chronicles those definitions in a hopefully raw and inspiring way.

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