Kathryn Stumpf – Closed for Business

Depression, for me, is like a vacancy. An absence of thought and emotion, of concern, ambition and desire.

There’s a ‘Closed’ sign dangling in front of my eyes and no saying how long I’ll be gone.

I feel hollow, like a shopfront in disrepair. There’s grime all over the stoop and nothing but dust on the shelves. No reason for anyone to stop by.

It feels like the place will never be bustling again; that the ‘Closed’ sign will hang in the window forever.

Occasionally, if my psychologist pokes far enough into the store room or a friend bangs on the door at deafening volume, a light flickers on inside.

Amber Wallis, "And My Brain Falls Out"
Amber Wallis, “And My Brain Falls Out”

Maybe some intrepid explorer finds a rusty tin of baked beans in the darkest recess of the premises. The discovery doesn’t justify a grand re-opening, but it’s a start.

Then, astonishingly, a pest control crew arrives on the doorstep. Mom and Dad must have sent them over.

The fumigators disregard the ‘Closed’ sign and go about their business, spraying chemicals into every cobwebbed cranny. The store’s vacant as ever, but at least it’s cockroach-free.

Once the noxious cloud has dissipated, workers roll up en masse.

Who are these people? It feels like an invasion, an unwelcome exhibit of just how grimy my interior has become. There are stains on the walls, foul odors, carpets moldy with damp.

The workers, my loved ones, venture inside with gas masks.

Slowly, the shopfront scrubs up. It looks like customers could enter the building and buy what they need without contracting hepatitis.

But I still feel empty. The business model is AWOL and bankruptcy looms as the days stretch on and on.

That’s how I’d describe depression.

A ‘Closed’ sign dangling in the window, a long vacancy.

Old customers pass by and wonder what happened. They wonder how the gradual decline escaped their notice and why it took a sign to spell out the situation.

Some customers blame themselves for patronizing the store less often than they could have in recent times. Some visit different supermarkets altogether.

Still, now that my joint has been cleaned and refurbished, there’s no reason for it to stay empty. It’s time to re-stock the ‘thoughts, hopes and emotions’ aisle.

But there’s only one person who can turn the ‘Closed’ sign over for good – not my doctors, not my parents, not my friends. Me.

Nothing could be harder than flipping over a flimsy placard and telling the world I’m open for business again.

Kathryn Stumpf

Kathryn is a journalism graduate based in Brisbane, Australia. Her writing style is personal, evocative, sometimes funny and sometimes sad. Kathryn’s work has been published by Bluestockings Magazine and Raccoon Dog TV, and her goal as a writer is to combine her passions for mental health, creativity, pop culture and the human condition.



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