A creative writing task I had to do for English. This is what depression is feels like personally for me.

Shadow Girl

There is a girl behind me.

She follows me.

Loud and arrogant, she likes to shop in the big tall stores and buy long dark coats with heavy hats. Her favorite shoes are tall black boots; the kind you can hear from a mile away.

I can always hear her.

She is always shrouded in darkness, merely a silhouette. Her face is always hidden, not by a hood, but by her suffocating presence. Her features seem to be unable to reflect light. In fact, she seems to absorb any kind of energy surrounding her.

I've never seen her eyes, her nose, or her lips, and I imagine that her face is not a face, but rather a plain of smooth skin devoid of emotions that sees everything I see, smells everything I smell, breathes everything I breathe, and feels everything I feel.

She whispers in my ear, she laughs in my heart, she tastes my pain.

I can always hear her.

It is impossible to request a restraining order for this girl. It is impossible to run from her. It is impossible to barricade myself behind a locked door, for this girl exists in the void inside me.

She stands beside me. No one else can see her, but I can, clear as the broken stars in a chipped corner of the night sky.

Right now, as I sit at a bright white table, a tray of untouched food in front of me, she sits with me. She's my only companion, my only friend.

And yet the table is empty. There is only me. Sitting alone.

A boy passes by my spot. His piercing eyes meet mine as he asks for the spare chair on the other side, reserved for my imaginary friends, but he doesn't see my eyes; he sees hers. The reply he hears from me isn't mine; she speaks for me. As he turns away, she spins around to jab her inky finger into my chest, scolding me furiously for being the shy, awkward way I am. Even when she finishes screaming, I still feel her words ringing in my head, shame bouncing off the walls of my mind with a feverish energy.

I can always hear her.

I walk home after school and watch the flowers sway in the wind. They're black and white. What happened to their color? They won't tell me.

Sometimes, she walks a little further behind me, always present, but not interfering. These are the moments that I can almost be normal. These are the moments that I am able to smell the flowers, feel the warmth of the sunshine, and laugh without hearing her voice in my voice. Lying in bed at night, these are the moments when I can fall asleep without feeling her nails digging through my skin.

Other times, she envelopes me, surrounds me with a dark blanket that shades the bright blue sky, the yellow sun, the greenest trees with a dim coat of black. These times of my life are drawn with sharpened charcoal instead of colored pencils. These are the times where she slips her frozen feet into my shoes, walks the corridors, and cries my tears for me. These are the times when she drags her silver blade across my thighs, my arms, my neck, and claims that my existence is worthless.

Online, they always like to call her "depression". But they don't know anything. They don't know what it feels like. She isn't "depression".

She is me.

I walk through everyday with a blank, distant visage to fool those around me while in my head, hissing screams of protest as she breathes to me, fighting her hold on me.

Her hold on me?

My hold on me.

She whispers, with a hoarse throat, every insult all at once. As ethereal as a shadow, but her blows are worst than any man's. She punches with sorrow, slaps with guilt, and kicks with loneliness. All the fault always lies with me. I am never good enough.

Only too often do thoughts of endless, peaceful sleep drift through my mind, infested with her presence. Sleep? I long for quiet.

I sink in the deepest of waters in my mind, my lungs choking and my heart exploding, more terrifying than anything I have experienced. At least I can escape normal water by drowning.

I cannot escape her.

I can always hear her.

She holds me under with hands as real as wisps of smoke, but as strong as steel. She forces me to inhale the water. My eyes see red; my chest feels fire. But I cannot escape her.

Only then do I embrace her, the visceral shadow that lives within me. I become strangely at peace. A jarring, unfamiliar sense of peace.

I pull out of darkness. I scream at the dark girl and scramble to the surface of the murky water. I notice the bright sky, the warm sun, the colorful flowers, my brown eyes in the mirror, my eyes, and my friends' laughter. I startle the shadow girl with starlight, and she dissipates for a few days.

I can no longer hear her.

But soon she will return.

After all, you cannot escape yourself.