anxiety depression Fiction photo photography Prose

The Dirty Work

You can throw all of the pills down the drain. It makes for a moment of defiance, of clarity. But does it change the underlying cause? Do you have a plan beyond turning on the disposal and feeling a bit better about yourself?

Because now the hardest part comes in: talking about the dread and the shame. Dredging up all of the unwelcome and lingering thoughts pinging around your head all of the time. Fighting the feelings that threaten to torpedo your psyche.

© 2023 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.

essay mental health photo photography portrait

Your Voice

Lunatics, madmen, crazies. Pejoratives thrown around to denigrate people we think don’t deserve dignity or respect, much less a cursory attempt at understanding. I’ve known so many who have been slammed by these words and much worse, but they persevere through the insults and the misfiring neurons in their brains. They fight to live another day in a world where they’re unwelcome.

Why do we think that because we conform and behave in accordance with a vague standard of normalcy that anyone who deviates from that is broken? We ought to open our hearts, these miraculous pathways to love and understanding, to enable us to realize that the person hearing voices may just need to hear a welcoming one: ours.

© 2022 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved

Fiction photo photography Prose

Better Off

It does not matter that she doesn’t care for you any longer. You have your job, your friends and self-respect. You’re life doesn’t hinge on her affections. They were a bonus, a pleasure, but as her love waned, so did the ability for it to hurt you. You’ll be fine.

© 2022 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.


Long Way Back

Inside the endless night
I’m prisoner to the poisonous ways
Depression has to take root
And blackout your days.

Insidious and random,
The victims are too many to count.
Discovering at some dreadful point
This disorder, this jail, won’t let you out.

Giving in to the immense black hollow
Is easy and sometimes we do.
I’ll try to come back,
To be the person I once knew.

It’s such an long fight
When it’s burrowed so deep.
Your mind, the your soul.
What else can you keep?

I will feel worthless and I’ll stumble
And fall down the long flight of steps
That lead the way back
To the light that signals success.

I hope when I get there,
Because I have to believe that I will,
That you’ll be waiting,
In love with me still.

© 2022 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.


Don’t Ask

Don’t ask what I’ve done.
The list is too long
And the answer helps no one.

Acts of desperation and shame,
Though maybe I’m not the best judge.
But more than enough to warrant the blame.

You can’t hurt me more
Than I already have. I’m brutal.
I punish and punish like never before.

I try to be open to warmth and sincerity,
But the traumas
Live in my soul, etched in terrifying clarity.

I need to feel love and a dose of relief.
Some way to accept and move on.
But I can’t find the hope in all that I see.

This is really a prayer, a wish out loud.
Maybe if I can’t do it
You can show me you’re proud.

© 2022 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.



Clinging, but to what?
And why?
Perhaps it is just an instinct
Formed long ago, deep inside.
I don’t want to be here.
But lack the will and direction
To do what needs to be done.
To make the necessary decision.
Weakness and fear
Clutter my mind.
Parked alongside so many bleak thoughts
And feelings I can’t leave behind.
What loiters
And looms
Will stay in the shadow
Continuing to bloom.
An inky black flower
Sucks out all the light
Of this pathetic existence
That I dread every night.
Who knows
If I have the will or the drive
For anything good.
To fight to stay alive.

© 2022 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.



A thrum.
Felt first, then audible like an eternal tone.
Threatening as it endures
And defies your attempts to quell it.
It’s a manifestation
Of everything in your head.
The trauma, pain and the dread.
All of the anxieties and loathing
Collected together,
As if to make it easier
To break me down.
Inside out. First the mind, then the body
Comes tumbling down, a husk of a man.
Destroyed by the pieces that never fit
And the ones designed to engulf
Whatever piece of you that might be working right, that you hoped might
Make you better, that you hoped might
Lead to love and that finally let you down
And left you here. Alone with the remains.

© 2022 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.