Archive for August, 2015

A hand to hold

August 2, 2015

I have lived with anxiety and depression for the best part of 25 years. Through thick and thin I have ridden the moody beast, knowing that even at the best of times it would be lurking somewhere, waiting.
When up, I would see colour and love and joy and wonder how I could ever feel bad. When up, things got done and I felt connected with people, with the world.
When down, the cliches ring true – drowning, foggy, remote, disconnected. When down, there is a sense of knowing how life should feel, how the world should look, but through depression the picture is distorted by static and loss of colour.
The cruellest blow that depression wreaks is its capacity to convince. Like a conniving parasite, it sucks any positive, hopeful thoughts and recognition from you, leaving an exhausted, depleted shell. Perhaps that’s how people with depression should describe what they suffer: “I have a parasite in my brain that feeds on positivity”. This is truly what depression is. It is not a feeling, or a mood, it is a thing that changes your mind so that you actually perceive the world differently. It deliberately isolates. It cocoons the sufferer from the world around them.
Unless you have seen life through the lens that depression wields, it is incredibly difficult to understand what it is and what it does. From the outside, someone with depression looks glum. With severe depression, it is more than glum. It is a palpable grey aura. If you know someone with this, the instinct is sometimes to avoid. Or at best, tread lightly. Some cannot be reached and many don’t bother trying. They are too far away. This is the tragedy. This is what the parasite seeks to achieve.
Many with depression can quell the beast with the strength of their convictions – faith, persistence, resilience. They are prepared for each arrival and ride it out like an upturned yacht in a raging swell. You can bunker down and live it but it is ugly and it hurts. Some will hit the storm hard and, tragically, their boat will sink. They couldn’t see the life buoys and helicopters hovering. For others, the beast requires constant unwavering attack and for this potions and pills are prescribed.
For everyone who lives with the lurking gloom, there is a need for hands. Hands to reach through the fog, Hands to wave, to hold, to feel, to catch. They need to be there all the time. Like a constant relay we need to keep our hands in the mire for when our friends might briefly look up.

This monstrous mentor.
It monopolises the mind
Smothering like a sickly blanket.
It is your only friend. It tells you.
Over
and over.
It is embracing arms
But not of the kind sort.
These are not the hands you want to hold.
Look up!
Look out!
For that brief second
A fingertip’s touch
Could see you to
The sheltered harbour.