I’ve started writing this over a dozen times only to delete the opening paragraph and begin again. For a writer that’s pretty fucking funny. Only I’m not laughing. I should because it is. Roll with the punches I guess. I wanted to open with something deep, meaningful, insightful, and then move on the crux of my post. But the words didn’t come the way I wanted. Instead, you’re stuck with this as an opener.
I could have gone with something more brutal:
Darkness follows me everywhere. I cannot escape it.
Or maybe whimsical:
Light and merriment hath been chased away by shadow and sorrow.
But I prefer good honest description.
Hey there, dear blog reader! I’m utterly unhappy. Actually, that’s wrong. I’m nothing. For the most part. Empty. A void. I am stuck at the bottom of a deep well inside myself. I didn’t think it was possible to experience such darkness. I’m aware of my physical shell, and inside is a deep empty well. When I’m at the bottom I can see out, like there are windows, so I know what the normal world looks like.
And sometimes I breach the surface, enjoy the light, the chat, the bants, the normal world.
Then whatever it is I’m standing on, that lets me see out of my eyes, vanishes. Gravity sucks me back down into that deep dark hollow pit.
I call these two fun things the Drop and the Rise.
They are becoming somewhat predictable.
If I didn’t experience the Drop, I wouldn’t be aware of the Rise quite so much. I’ve been on the Rise plateau for a few days now. It’s okay. I can feel pretty normal, lifted you might say, buoyant, and I can appreciate good things in life – food, conversation, thinking and planning for the future.
I don’t worry so much about the bad stuff during the Rise. It’s there, in the background, like a thick fog of flies massing at the edge of the light waiting for the bulb behind my eyes to explode. Then the darkness is their playground. In the meantime, I’m upbeat, in good spirits. I’m aware my negativity is only a step away, waiting to pounce. I strive to keep it at arm’s length.
Negative and positive should live in harmony with your head. Not mine. They’re at war, with positivity losing most fights.
There’s a sort of barrier that stops me from getting overly happy. I can feel something inside, a yearning happy Dave who wants to exist not just in a good place, but an amazing one.
In my minds eye I picture a sun-dazzled morning where I await the birth of the day. I celebrate every colour imaginable as they stretch overhead. I throw my arms wide and scream my joy to the world.
That’s the moment I crave.
One day I’ll live in that feeling.
I was like that once – utterly loving the full-on human experience, bright, loud, fun, adventurous, full of energy and attitude, raw and unkept.
That person is still there. Locked up tight in a box somewhere. Hidden away at the end of some dark dirty maze. I don’t know how to reach that person. The twists, turns and traps are too many and too difficult to overcome. It’s easier to leave him in solitude.
But when the Rise is here, the desire to find that person fades away. He’s not important because I don’t need to feel mega-super-awesome-ultra happy. Being normal works just fine. Asking for more feels like greed.
The Rise doesn’t last forever.
It is disturbing how fast jealousy is cultivated within the Drop.
Yesterday the world darkened.
Not the world actually, that’s dumb. My bubble went dark. Just a tint you understand. Then it dimmed as if some giant hand has muddied the soft sheen that coats it. That’s too much normality for you, let’s dial it down a little, waddaya say, huh?
This is hard to describe without slipping into a fictional narrative like I’m writing about a character.
At the edge of the Drop colours fade. Sort of. My eyes aren’t broken. I see colours fine. They just don’t matter. I don’t care whether something is blue or red.
My inbuilt curiosity for life, the universe and everything drains away like water gurgling down the plughole. Apply that analogy to everything – fun, humour, conversation, emotions, TV, reading, eating, going outside, shopping, choosing a movie to watch.
And – weird as hell this one – not picking up on visual cues like facial expressions for stuff like happiness or anger. I have to concentrate on faces to make sure I’m responding correctly. I’ve gone deaf in terms of hearing if someone has humour in their voice or resentment, unease, joy, confidence…and so on.
Everything is flat.
Talk about exhausting.
This is a decent picture of what I feel like when the Drop comes.
All ragged and shredded, yet hollow, lifeless, soulless, with cloying darkness everywhere.
Why is that a thing for me now?
I just don’t get it.
I didn’t draw that btw. I found that awesome monstrosity on Pinterest. Gotta love Pinterest.
So, in the before time, pre-Drop, I get that quirky sideways sensation, like when you feel a cold seeping slowly into your body. I’m not of it at first.
This morning I recognised the sensation. It crept up on me as I slid from asleep to awake.
This morning I ran through a bunch of emails. A link took me to Facebook. My scanning eyes stopped at a video about depression “10 Things to Remember…” blah, blah. Nice video, soft images, words overlaid with what to do or not to do around people with depression.
It brought a tear to my eye.
Here’s the thing. I’m not an overly emotional person. I don’t do crying.
[Insert clichéd reason here]
So this was a rare moment.
Then I spotted an email from a friend who had read my last post.
Meet my pal, Darkness
I managed 3 paragraphs before the light at the top of the well far above me went full dark. I could read no further. I had to turn away. The words were too much. I choked. Tears don’t feel natural to me. The swelling dark inside my chest was intense pain. Something I couldn’t ignore or run from.
And running was what I wanted to do. No car this time. Just leave the house and walk. No looking back. I wouldn’t even stop to pick up my wallet, keys or phone. Something in my chest and stomach compelled me to just walk and never stop. I imagined leaving behind a long trail of thick dark fog that would stretch out for eternity.
Good. Better behind instead of inside me.
It has taken an hour to write from: “Several actually” to this point.
I stop and start. The pain, sorrow, confusion…whatever the fuck is growing inside me, gets too intense. I don’t know what to do with it. Walking or running seems like a good idea, but at the back of my mind I know it’s not the right answer, despite the appeal.
I crave a normal, happy existence. I question what choices or experiences in life have brought me to this point. Which path did I take that was the wrong one? Or were there several? Does it matter? Does thinking about it, trying to examine every last fucking choice I’ve made help?
Doesn’t feel like it.
Being at the bottom of the well sucks the big one. So when this gaping chasm of hurt opens up it’s like a doorway, a one-way trip. How could it get any worse? I know if I give in to it, step over that threshold, there’s no coming back. I don’t want to go in there, but something in that seething dark mass of hurt and anguish very much wants to be my pal.
Instead, I retreat. I pull myself back. I can’t go in there.
I wipe the tears away. Choke back my voice. I hope no one will see me like this. I hate this. I hate it all.
Shit. This is taking every last fucking goddammned shred of willpower to write.
Why is this me?
This wasn’t me before, so why now?
I take deep breaths. Calm down. There’s still the running away option. And that’s cool. It occupies my mind for a moment or two.
Throughout that episode, I was aware of little Benji thumping his tail on the bed. As I calmed down he slinked over to me, paws stretched out, tail wagging. I turned my chair from the screen. He’s happy for the attention.
Benji is the brown fella, enduring (or loving) Tilly lounging across him.
For a moment I take great comfort in knowing he understood what I needed. A companion. Friendship without questions. A gesture of togetherness.
Dogs are good at that.
What A Fucking Mess!
I took a timeout with the dogs.
I read that email, with more composure. It’s a good email. One of the best in fact. It was a Benji thing. Both said to me: It’s okay. Just be. No judging. Just making a connection.
I will reply. It wholly deserves a reply.
I don’t get why/how I used to be so massively different. Someone else is driving the Dave bus these days, some complete wanker I despise with all my being. And I have no clue how to kick him out and take back control. He needs to leave. He needs to become a red stringy mess on the road.
It’s shameful to admit I don’t have the tools to work this problem. I’m sure they’re there, just out of reach, veiled in mystery.
Those deep dark chasm moments never used to happen all that often, though what worries me is the intensity. And of late, the frequency.
Want to know something stupid? I missed my doctor’s appointment. I know, dumb right? I got my dates mixed up on my phone calendar. I’ll book another appointment. I’d left it alone, stupidly, because I was feeling pretty normal for a change. Shitty excuse I know because I could be making progress, like learning how to strangle that turd behind the wheel.
Everyone has ups and downs, that’s fairly standard. But does everyone feel the Drop as hard? Can anyone tell me what that dark chasm is that wants to entomb me in layers of pain?
I don’t want much.
Simple things, you know?
I’d like to be at ease with myself and my life, to have an idea of where I might want to go.
I want my smile and laughter to come without having to think about it.
Jo “Bradders” Bradshaw once said to me: “Difficult is good.”
I get that. Something worth achieving is best earned by overcoming a challenge or conflict.
Huh. But I was normal once. Why has life forced me to face a challenge to get back to where I once was? Is that a stupid question? Am I over thinking this? Does it even fucking matter?
God, I’m tired. Exhausted. I could sleep for a few days right now.
I guess I should accept that challenge. The results of change don’t come without hard work, right?
The good Dave, the happy Dave, is out there, somewhere, in a box. Maybe if I hold a gun to the wanker Dave driving the bus, he’ll take me through the maze to the good Dave. And there we’ll murder wanker Dave once and for all.
The alternative, of course, is to see what’s really inside that dark chasm.
Problem is, right now I’m not very good at choices.
But I made the choice to write this.
I still love writing.