Not even a doodle

I don’t really have bad days anymore. Not in the same way. No more of the endless lethargy that used to have me in its clutches.

In a way I’m happy – it means I’m getting better, that I’m making progress, no matter how small the steps are. This part of me can experience joy, something I haven’t felt in a long time. This summer has been full of it, full of joy. Real, pure, unadulterated joy. None of the fake smiles that I have become so used to putting on every morning like badly applied lipstick. I’ve feel more alive, more at peace and more awake than I have for the past seven months.

But there’s another side to the story. There’s always another side. I used to be able to deal with my bad days – I knew the whole day was a write off, that I was stuck in the mud with no one to duck under my arm and rescue me. Actually, deal with is the wrong phrase – accept and get on with – deal with sounds too positive. Now, however, I can run around, no longer stuck, able to get on with my life.

But I can’t predict my bad moments, can’t predict when a trigger will rear its ugly head.

A photo on Facebook, an offhand comment, a poster on a bus – the possibilities are seemingly endless. Triggers pop up in the midst of my happiness and suck me dry. They appear out of nowhere and hold me fast. Sucked down into murky darkness once again; my arms wrapped close around me in attempt to maintain some semblance of self, to hold in the joy, no longer outstretched to be rescued.

If I tried to draw how I feel after these triggers, these spirals, all I could produce would be a scribble, a splodge, a scratching on paper which has no form or substance, not even worthy of being called a doodle. A mess. So here are some words instead.

Tension. As if I’m in the starting blocks, waiting for the gun to fire and the race to start. There is that same sense of apprehension, anticipation. There is no end though, the gun hasn’t fired yet, nor will it ever fire. The race hasn’t started, (although can you call it a race if I’m the only competitor?) nor does it feel like it will ever be finished. I’m just stuck in that limbo, with my arse in the air, feeling as vulnerable as you’d expect.

It’s the tugging-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach kind of tension. As though my innards want to escape and skip off into the sunset holding hands, and live lives of their own, with only my skin and a feeble will holding them back.

It’s like my heart is holding its breath. Or is floating, weightless in space.

It’s like a slow squeezing but with nothing able to get any smaller. And yet strangely somehow getting smaller. All of me, steadily being squashed, moulded into a box that gets smaller and smaller as I get more and more flattened and squished. It’s a glass box, giving a disconnect with the rest of the world – you can see your surroundings but not touch them. You can imagine yourself feeling what’s around you, but you’re not actually feeling it, not really. As though you’re wrapped perpetually in your duvet, but without the comfort and warmth. A blanket of ash muffling everything, dampening sounds and giving the world a stillness that can’t quite be put into words; it just is. An almost restless stillness. It doesn’t make sense, but it just is. It’s the feeling of having too much time and also no time at all. An empty successiveness. Futile.

Sadness. Although sadness isn’t really the right word. It’s more an absence of the opposite of sadness – a not-sadness – leaving a cloudless sky of ‘this’ hanging over my head and stretching as far as my clouded eyes can see. In the same way that you cannot see clearly though a veil of tears, I cannot see, or feel, clearly. It’s a paradox, feeling almost devoid of all normal emotion and yet feeling this ache. As if my heart has been newly split in two, and the halves torn apart by some malevolent and unknown force with no regard for the mess it leaves in its wake. A silent, constant hurricane, not ruffling hair, or misplacing clothes, just watering eyes and the feeling being run over. A mixture of apathy, a dead flatness, and too much light that you have to put your hand over your eyes to stop them burning.

It isn’t grief, or sorrow, or pain, any yet is all three. All three without a reason, which makes it worse in a way. A reason would give some path to follow, to allow the grief to run its course. In this endless bareness there is no path, no road to lead me out. It just is, on and on, with no end, no oasis, not even a mirage to ease my passing. An endless desert, being tugged along into the middle of nowhere by a tension with no rope, knowing that the sun is hot but feeling nothing, even as you blister and burn.

It’s every bad thing you’ve ever felt, or thought, or done, or known, falling on your head all at once. And you can’t cope. There is no way to cope. There is just existing in it and hoping you come out the other side.

Depression doesn’t make sense. It’s not logical, there is little rationality. It’s pretty backwards half the time. The same with suicide and self-harm; they’re not logical and there is little rational thought. But they still happen. They still are, regardless of how great your life is perceived to be. I shouldn’t feel how I do in the grand scheme of things, but I do. My brain shouldn’t react the way it does to Facebook photos and buses but it does. And I have to live with it in hope, that it will get better, that this means I’m getting better.

1 Peter 5:10

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

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