Depression is like falling into a deep, dark well—a black hole.  Despair and hopelessness thicken, become tangible, stick and hang off the mind.  The darkness takes over my thoughts, twisting my perceptions, clogging up the filters through which I interpret the world.  My body gets heavy with more joint pain, muscle aches, digestive turmoil.  It is a dark place, and the sense of falling deeper and deeper feels very real.

But there’s more to it for me.  Once I’ve fallen, once the process of becoming depressed shifts to being depressed, the landscape shifts.  The black hole seems to be a passage way to this other place.  Here, the darkness is dappled.  It’s like sitting under a huge tree on a summer’s day.  Most of the time, the shade is cool and dark, but the canopy moves and sunlight breaks in once in a while.

I have moments, even in the worst of my depression, when a spot of humor or a touch of joy breaks through.  It’s surprising when it happens and short-lived.  I feel a brief kiss of sunlight on my face, then the shadows cover it over.  Those dapples are both a relief and a torment—a relief to laugh, a relief to rock in wonder or gratitude for a moment, but a torment to be reminded of who I am on the other side of depression.

When that spot of light leaves, the shadows seem darker.  I’m dazzled and blinded.  The dapples tease me—Want this?  Can’t have it. I try to look at these moments as gifts without grasping after them.  I try to relax and let them help me remember who I really am.  But, it’s painful when they dart away.  I can’t hold onto them.  Darkness rushes back in.

I’m tired.  Again today, I’ll do what I can to manage my illness.  I’ll go to my water aerobics class.  I’ll sit in my coffee shop and write.  I’ll eat my vegetables.  It all feels plodding and relentless.  But, there is sunlight here, too.  Birds chirp outside the window, even if I can’t hear them.  Eventually, the shadows will thin.  More sunlight will come in and stay.  If I watch my cats at the window, they will show me where the birds are, and I’ll be able to hear them again.

I’m called to breathe and feel the dance of light on my face even if it hurts, even if I want more.  More will come in time.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kitty
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 08:10:00

    I could feel this falling down the well and, as dark as it was, the passageway was ever so clear when I got to the bottom. It’s a high price to pay to get “to the depths” of who we are, but worth the passage all the same. Call me a cheerleader… a Pollyanna… call me a fool, if you like, but I still see light at the end of the tunnel.


    • Sandy Sue
      Apr 13, 2011 @ 15:52:54

      I think we’re in two different wells.
      The one I think you’re talking about is the spiritual, evolutionary journey, the one where we struggle with our issues and push through the dark to an “aha” moment. I’ve been on that path, too, and, oh yeah, the struggle is worth the eventual spiritual growth.
      But, there’s no clarity to be had in a bipolar episode. This depression is not who I am, it doesn’t lead to a deeper or more evolved me. It’s illness. What I do here is survive and try not to make the situation worse. But I’d agree with you that there is an “end of the tunnel,” and that it’s brighter there.


  2. gypsy116
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 15:42:23

    I love the way you put this, I hope you start feeling better soon dear


  3. Sherry
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 16:08:55

    I don’t know that anything I say can make it any better. Just know that I’m here listening and praying for your light to grow.


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