(This post is part of the weekly creative writing challenge on Trifecta. The prompt was “Wild”. This is my first time participating in Trifecta, and this is what came from that prompt. I’ve written about my depression before, but I’ve never talked about this aspect of it. I don’t know if this is too much, but this is what I wrote.)I was attacked by a wild animal. Sharp claws; bright red blood on pale skin. Left for dead. It’s fangs pierced me, poisoned my mind. I started to see things that weren’t there, believe things that weren’t true. I was helpless, hopeless, alone. Cold floor, hot skin, shaking hands. My mind is racing, racing, racing. My skin is crawling. I can’t slow down. I can’t breathe. The walls shake and shimmer, leave me questioning my sanity. I’m losing my grip on reality. Heart flutters, breath catches, I’m trapped in this body. I can’t escape. I’m not here. This isn’t real. This can’t be life. I float away. I’ll be lost soon. Flashing, spinning, dizzy, angry, scared, numb, alone. I have to make it stop. I crawl to the drawer, bare knees on white tile, slipping slowly sliding. Run my hands along the edge, find the hidden packet. Finger tips on soft cloth. Slowly, carefully, I unfold it. Sharp metal. My old friend. I’ll be at peace soon. Skin parts like butter. Lip stain on porcelain. Breath comes. Eyes close. Heart slows. Back in my body. Back in reality. But for how long? The scars are faded now. Pearly white. Some not as white as others. And the animal is caged now. Held down. I see it’s eyes glint in the dark sometimes, and I feel the old panic start to rise. It’s crouched low, ready to spring. If I open that door for just one second, I’m lost. I stare it down. Tell it, and myself, that I’m in control now. But it’s there. Always there. It knows and I know. I was attacked by a wild animal.
This exercise, “Say Yes”, was to say yes to everyone and everything that happens in your life.
I gave myself two weeks with this exercise because it was exactly what I needed right now. I have been struggling with depression over the last month or so, and that inevitably comes with a heavy dose of negativity. Everything seems more difficult or even impossible. I needed to say yes to my circumstances and to my future.
Of course, my mind still tended towards negativity much of the time, but I did say yes on a few very important occasions. Sometimes it was simple, like saying yes when David offered to take Adeline to daycare in the morning. Normally I would have declined his help, done it myself, and stressed about it the entire time (sitting in traffic for double the time, losing an extra hour from the time I was supposed to have to work, etc). But instead, I said yes. And it has made a difference.
Sometimes it was more profound, like saying yes to getting help for my depression. The very act of admitting you need help is the hardest part. It’s much easier to say no and to go on with the status quo. But it’s much better for your life if you can manage to say yes.
What can you say yes to in your life?
I’m in a dark room. No light seeps in at a window or under a door. I vaguely recall that I left this room, long ago. Fleeting glimpses of light. But that’s all lost now.
The darkness is heavy, it sits on me, weighing me down. The walls feel thick and close. It’s hard to breathe. There’s no escape. I crumble under the weight of it, lay in a corner, curled up. I can’t move.
Depression. It has ahold of me. Again. As I write this I access my intellectual mind and I know that it hasn’t always been this way. I know that my mind was once like a big house, full of light and many different rooms. I walked in and out of those rooms happily and at my will. There was a room of sadness, it was dimmer than the rest, but I could leave. I could return to rooms full of joy, contentment, and satisfaction. I could even go to rooms of anger or hurt and leave them again.
But that house is gone now. This dark room is all I know. Flashes of anger find their way in, only to be pushed away again by the heavy darkness. I can’t go on. If this dark room is all I have, what’s the point? It’s a prison, a cage, solitary confinement. I can’t breathe. I can’t move. I can’t.
I wrote the above last week, in a dark moment. Things are better today, for now. Depression has loosened its grip and I see the world for what it is: I know that I have struggled with depression all of my adult life, but I also know that I have been on the winning side of that struggle as often, or more often, than depression has been. I’ve had years with only minor episodes and years with month on month of endless depression. Throughout those years there has been plenty of time when I have not been depressed. There has been joy, happiness, wonderful times.
But when I’m depressed I can’t see that. I can only see the depression: I come to believe that I have always felt this way. And that is depression’s strongest weapon: it’s ability to make me feel like this is all I am, and all I ever will be. And if that’s really true, then what is the point?
And the dark room is tempting. It lures me with its siren song of rest. It’s not a peaceful rest, but it is a rest, laying in that dark room alone. It’s easier sometimes to lay there than to struggle, to fight. And it’s safe in there: safe from the overwhelming emotions that I can’t control, safe from having to face people I may have lashed out at or hurt, safe from having to face myself. But the price for that safety is isolation, numbness and hopelessness.
My last major episode of depression was three years ago, when I was in the middle of leaving my ex-husband. I worked very hard to overcome that depression and I did well for a time. But this year has been hard. New baby, not working, moving across the country to a place where I knew no one. In retrospect, I see that I’ve been fighting depression all year. But I know now that I have to win. It’s not just about me anymore. And that’s my strongest weapon.