The Leech

by Hannah Nicholson

A popular term for depression

Is ‘the black dog’, and sufferers

Are described as ‘dancing with it’. 

While that comparison works well, 

I find it to be more like a leech, 

And a particularly greedy one. 

It sucks away at my energy

And my memory 

And my motivation to do things. 

My flat remains filthy, 

My dishes piled in the sink unwashed, 

My books unread,

My writing unwritten, 

My instruments unplayed, 

My crochet unmade

As I lie in bed under my duvet

Cocooned in my despair

And drowning in the cesspit

Of self-doubt and impostor syndrome. 

I am no good to the people I love

Or work with, I think to myself.

I struggle to remember the most basic things, 

Like that I need to buy bin bags 

Or my mam’s lemon tuna recipe

Or even super basic maths. 


At some point the leech’s appetite is satiated,

And when it decides to take a break from guzzling

I am given a temporary reprieve. 

My flat gets a good thorough blitzing, 

I read voraciously and write enthusiastically. 

I sing at the top of my voice

And I venture out of the building. 

I take pleasure in small things

Like nature and fresh air

And for a time I am unstoppable. 

Finally the leech reawakens, 

And with its small but powerful jaws

It latches on to me again

And devours my energy, will

And self confidence. 

I am once again defeated, 

And retire to bed to recuperate.