Thursday, 12 June 2014

'The Dark Place'

I am out of the worse of my Depression. I can say that whole-heartedly knowing that I have never been happier in myself. But it doesn't mean that it won't return. Depression, as with other mental illnesses are just that - ILLNESSES. There is no quick fix. Ongoing treatment is the best 'cure', and one has to take preventative measures to ensure it does not return. I can get through a bout of Depression, but I may someday have to face the battle again. Don't get me wrong, people can and do get better. And I am in recovery. 

However, there are triggers that I have to be aware of. For example isolation. I spent so much time in my life on my own, feeling like I had nobody but myself, that isolation can still bring me close to what a friend poetically describes as 'The Dark Place'. 

But what is The Dark Place? How can I, a person in recovery, describe my deepest depressive periods? 
Well, the truth is that I can't. I can use words like 'black' and 'numb', but that doesn't explain it to a person who has never experienced it. 
But 'Depressed' me can. When was at my worst, the lowest I have ever been, I wrote it down. In a series of often incoherent pieces I wrote about myself in the third person, describing my moods, my helplessness, and my fears that I would never recover. Depression effects people in different ways; everyone's story is unique. But this is what The Dark Place was like for me:

'Everything hurt so much that everything had turned numb. After hours of crying she couldn’t feel a thing; not the cold air that had chilled her when she first came home, not the sharp throbbing in her throat after crying herself into silence, not the loneliness that surrounded her after being abandoned by the one person there was left who she cared about. A dank smell filled the room. Fresh air hadn’t been let in for days. In the eerie silence of the late night all she could bring herself to do was to sit up, without sensation. She took the opportunity to try and put her thoughts in to order. They were swirling around so quickly in her mind that she could not catch one for long enough to concentrate on it. So much had happened in the past twenty-four hours that she hadn’t had the time to process it. More than anything she wanted them to stop, or to just slow down long enough for her to catch one, but they wouldn’t relieve her mind, not even for a moment. Instead they kept turning, flicking from one train of thought to another. The numbing of her whole body was wearing off. Her throat felt dry and hoarse and she struggled to clear it. Her head ached from wishing too much and too hard. Her entire body felt weak and exhausted from a mixture of lack of sleep, not eating and the feeling that her heart had burst and whatever was leaking out of it was filling up her chest. She was drowning in her emotions.'

'The past week had been hell. It took a lot of strength to go back out into the real world again, more strength to realise that everything else had changed. Sitting alone, locked away from interaction with everyone else wasn’t healthy, she knew that. Part of her chose to believe that getting back to normal would help her. Perhaps going out and doing the things she usually would do could pass the time if nothing else. But it didn’t. Company was good, she’d never say otherwise, but being with people is meaningless if you’re not interacting with them. She’d sit with her friends, her wonderful, perfect friends who’d been so worried about her and showed so much compassion but yet she didn’t speak. She sat in silence and lost her thoughts in someplace she didn’t want them to be. ‘Dazed’ was the word her friend used. But she tried to get back into a routine. She attended all of her classes; no matter how painful it became to listen to tutors speak about trivial matters that weren’t about HER.'

I only remembered I had these when clearing out a folder on my laptop. And it was difficult to remember. As I read through the passages I felt uncomfortable. I could briefly feel my fears and my pain all over again. They are a trigger for me. But I read through them again, and again, trying to create some distance between myself and the person I was. Just as I had used the third person three years ago to distance myself from the girl I described, I wished to separate her from me now. It's not easy to remember how low I was. But it's amazing to see how far I have come. And I have never said this before, but I am proud of myself. And I am proud of the people who have stuck by me through my darkest time to where I am now.
In posting these pieces I'm not reliving 'The Dark Place', I'm just sharing a part of my story.

'The Dark Place' is a part of me, it always will be. But I will do everything I can to prevent myself from returning to it. 

If you, or someone you know, is in crisis now and need someone to talk to:
  • Contact Samaritans on 1850 609090 (Republic of Ireland) or 08457 909090 (UK including Northern Ireland)
  • Contact your local doctor, listed under ‘General Practitioners’ in the Golden Pages or visit
  • Go to, or contact, the Accident and Emergency Department of your nearest general hospital
Or Visit SeeChange for a list of support services.

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