Black Dog, White Mouse

If depression is a black dog, then anxiety is a white mouse. The black dog looms, but the white mouse scurries and scuttles down the in-between spaces. If you listen, then you’ll hear the tiny claws scraping, the teeth gnawing, and incessant self-satisfied chittering as your walls and your nerves wear away from the inside out. And you do always listen.

The mouse is white because a black (or grey or dun) mouse is easy to ignore. It won’t appear in the corner of your eye. It won’t make you look. And if you don’t see it, then you can tell yourself, “These are just the kind of strange sounds old houses make.” You may even believe it, and that’s enough.

But you can’t ignore a white mouse. The white mouse will come to you in the middle of the night. You’ll wake up for no reason you can think of, and the faint luminescent glow of white fur in the shadows at the corner of your eye will make you look. It takes less than a single heartbeat to register, but it will. And you never even have to think the words “white mouse” to know it’s there.

From then on, every noise becomes suspect; every flicker in the corner of your eye becomes that white mouse. Or, perhaps it’s another one. You may never see another white mouse running along your wall again, but where there’s one mouse (white or black or grey or dun), there are always bound to be more.

It’s when you can’t hear them that it’s the worst. You can’t hear them, but you know they’re still scurrying and scuttling and scraping and gnawing in the in-between spaces. Eventually, they will wear away your walls and your nerves. And the white mouse is never really gone.

Well shit—I really didn’t want the fist thing I wrote here to be something a twelve-year-old who wears too much black might write, but I did.