Jonathan Phillips

If Depression Were a Four-Letter Word

If Depression were a four-letter word,
It might be easier to explain.
You could simply say FUCK!
Or Crap! or Shit! with the same emphasis,
yet it wouldn’t equal bat-shit insane.

If Depression were a four-letter word,
Would it take seven doctors to treat?
An internist, social worker, psychologist, and career counselor,
And a psychiatrist,
so they can give you a sheet
With a prescription for a months’-worth
Of pills
With side effects like shaking, dry mouth and chills.

If Depression were a four-letter word,
Would the world realize the victims don’t understand it?
Why one moment the world is full of promise
And the next it’s a pile of shit
filling up a hole that they’re at the bottom of.
And the ladder and rungs for the climb up ahead
Are so slippery as to require mountain boots,
But you only wore Keds

And your head can’t find balance,
And your skin peels off tension,
And nothing upon nothing can shake your apprehension.

If Depression were a four-letter word,
Could we find one that doesn’t sound so damn dreadful?
Give me a euphemism like “the runs” or “the clap”
So that we can shake off this awful head-full of dismay and confession
that simply comes
from the word

© Jonathan Phillips

Jonathan Phillips is the proud, married father of two boys. His short story, Speck, won the Silver Pen Association’s 2016 Write Well Award and his follow-up story, Blank Canvas, was selected to be in the Fifth Anniversary anthology from Fabula Argentea. Besides fiction, he has co-authored six film projects and two television pilots, as well as written four stage plays on his own, two of which were staged. He has also freelanced doing fantasy sport analysis and journalism.

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