Depression and breaking points. The cycle of hope and despair

Hope and despair

You know in all the ‘action movies’ where the besieged heroes are valiantly crossing the decrepit rope bridge, rotten boards breaking off and falling hundreds of feet down into the chasm, rope or vines on the main cable coming apart, one strand at a time?

Well, that’s life. Stuff happens. You get over it. Sometimes you lose people on the bridge across. That’s life too. You bounce back, humans are resilient like that.

Having made it to safety you cut the bridge down, saving you from your pursuing demons.

*cuts back to the ‘heroes’*

Out of shooting range, pursuit cut off for a few hours, you look around. You are stood on a towering peninsula, behind you a gorge, in front of you a vertical cliff with a narrow path cut into the chalk face. It leads down to a treacherous beach, one where ponderous grey waves relentlessly crash against sharp-looking boulders, each sally throwing up salty spray.

Hero: “You’ve GOT to be kidding me!”

Life’s like that too. Often in pairs, usually, they say, bad stuff happens in threes. You know why I think they say that? Because after three you begin to think you are cursed. Then you begin to melt down. People have difference tolerances, different breaking points for stress and distress, physical and mental, for being bullied, for seeing the gigantic flaws in their body or character, for the unforgivable sin in their past. Yet these can be issues that others can’t see in you, or perhaps they have them too, even to a greater degree and can’t see what all the fuss you are making is about.

So here I am, forcing myself to type and keeping the bad thoughts out my head another hour. Some days I lock myself in a windowless shed and sit in the dark, others I just lay in bed all day, staring at the ceiling and thinking. Or really trying not to think, but it’s not that easy. You do it, but it doesn’t help, it makes you worse, yet you do it to yourself anyway.

The trip continues on until the final bridge collapses, the last bastion cliff crumbles, leaving you trapped in a hole of your own digging. You are empty inside, you have no tears left – or hurt so much no tears ever fall – and life loses all meaning. All you have is heartache and regrets and your own personal hell, perhaps created by others, but nevertheless one maintained by yourself, nurtured almost, in some cruel irony.

You see all the bad, terrible things happening around the world, the suffering, you see others in hospital far worse off than you physically, but it doesn’t work that way. When you are depressed you get wrapped in your own suffering, lost to it and as more ‘stuff’ happens to you personally, or is perceived to, the worse you get. It’s a vicious circle that spirals down into a bottomless pit of despair. You get sensible advice like start the rest of your life today, forget the past, you can’t change it, time move on, just keep active and so forth.

This isn’t living, it’s not even ‘existing’ anymore, it’s waiting to die – but doing so without helping it along, because hopefully part of you remains conscious of the effects your actions can have on others. That’s if there’s anyone left because eventually you push everyone away, one by one.

All you can do when it get this bad is – something. Anything. Anything but sit thinking, or not thinking. Go for walks in the park, clean all the grungy corners in the bathroom with an old toothbrush, sort your paperclips by size, find all the old pens and pencils in the house, test or sharpen them all, throwing out the dried up, broken ones. If it helps, as you discard each broken item, tell yourself you are getting rid of the past that haunts you. Sure, maybe he/she/they/just your bad luck/ caused the start of it, but in all probability they have long since forgotten all about it/you – it’s you that wear the mantle of depression and despair.

At the end of the day only you can see how moth-eaten that cloak really is, it’s up to you to drop it and move on with your life.

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