Darkness of the Spirit: Depression From The Inside

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Darkness of the spirit, or soul, has a density and three-dimensional quality of which darkness of the sight cannot conceive. It invades every nook and cranny of your being – contaminating happy memories, tarnishing the sunbeams and rainbows you may have harvested. The darkness swells within you, seeps out of you, surrounds you. It encompasses you so comprehensively that your boundaries dissolve and you BECOME darkness. It is you. It is OF you. You are engulfed.

It is not true to say that it doesn’t hurt to smile. It does. It makes of you a liar. It diminishes your integrity. A smile can disembowel you.

The distortions are as varied as they are unending. Taste buds go into hibernation, making spiced foods bland and chocolate unappetising. The appetite itself is erratic. Am I hungry? What am I hungry for? The tiny part of rationale that is still functioning allows you to realise that you do need sustenance. Unfortunately, that’s where it withdraws and leaves you to make decisions you are suddenly ill equipped to make. Strangely, I have found that my eyesight improves. I am usually shortsighted but do not need my glasses as much. My hearing, too, is more acute. I can hear my blood coursing through my veins. Okay, so maybe It’s tinnitus, but it is audible over the television soundtrack. Also clearly audible is the ticking of the clock.

I particularly despise the heightened self-pity. My body aches and I persuade myself that if only I were pain-free, I’d be better able to cope. It feels as though there is no fibre of my being that does not clamour to have its pain assuaged. My hair follicles cry in anguish as the hair thrusts up and out in growing. Seriously, my scalp quivers. It anticipates each growth spurt but is powerless to prevent the pain.

Concentration would be a memory if memory could be relied upon. A familiar joke is that since a goldfish allegedly has only a three second memory span, it is constantly surprised by the wreckage of a vessel he sees on the bottom of his goldfish bowl. “Oh! A shipwreck!”… Swim in a circle… “Oh! Look! A shipwreck!” . unfortunately, this is not an exciting, revelation-ary repetitive response. More an aggravating “What the hell was I DOING before the phone rang / the post arrived / I blinked?”

Stick-to-it-ive-ness is something I used to have. Now, nothing captures and holds my attention – or not for long, anyway. I have “come to” to discover that the television is on, there is music emanating from the radio and, for all I am sitting in front of the computer, the moves I make in the card games are those of an automaton. There is no pleasure in successfully competing and completing.

The joy I have in my possessions is no longer there. The tingle has gone.

I long for the anonymity of unconsciousness. I want to float, foetus-like in a reservoir of water warmed by an African sun. I want sight, sound and sense removed. I want to be drip-fed and catheterised. I want decisions taken from me. I want to abrogate responsibility completely. I want to be mind-less, sense-less, powerless, decision-free. Dependent. I seek unconsciousness. I yearn for anaesthesia. I want to not have to be in control. I don’t want to cope. More than that, I want NOT to cope. I want to let go of the cliff-edge to which I am clinging with my paper-thin, ragged fingernails.

I want to “rewind”, back to a time when depression was a term used in meteorological reports. Going forward will mean I have the knowledge of clinical depression. I fear that it may happen again. Some things are better left unknown.

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