I’ve realised why I don’t have bad days anymore. And I’m not as better as I thought.
To experience a bad day or good day there must be something to experience. Obviously. Be it sounds, smells, sights, emotions, bad or good. But what if you can’t experience things like you used to, can’t see or hear or touch like you used to. Feel anything like you used to. Feel anything at all.
Your brain is great at helping you survive most experiences. It throws up border fences to prevent unwanted emotional immigration, mental sea walls so when the wave hits, you just get tickled by spray. The more immigrants, the higher the fence; the bigger the wave, the higher the wall. Usually there’s a release valve somewhere, a way of lessening the pressure slowly so you can deal with it a bit at a time. It means you can still feel the emotions; absorb the new cultures, shiver with the splash of cold water on your face. They’re often very physical feelings, as well as emotional ones – these walls stopping your heart being crushed under the pressure of a thousand feet, or your mind drowning in a thousand gallons of salty tears.
When I first found myself hounded by the black dog of depression, the walls were feeble, card houses, blown down by the lightest of panting from the dog following behind. I felt everything. No big, strong walls for me, just raw emotion. Immigration policy was nonexistent, my body left trampled and broken, scarred and bleeding. Waves didn’t break over me, they went through me, washing away any hope clinging to my bare bones. The cards disintegrated, leaving drooping faces and blurred hearts.
Again and again the cards were meticulously stacked higher and higher, only to have them cascade around me once again, the pictures laughing as they fell at my ineptitude and helplessness.
My wall building improved over time, Pritt Stick replaced by PVA, cards by concrete. They got higher, wider and stronger, the cracks got smaller, thinner, and fewer. I felt less and I loved it. No more tidal waves from tiny tremors, interrupting my carefully structured days of not doing anything. Not feeling ‘felt’ like the best thing ever. A blissful ignorance. Until little by little the walls began to buckle under the pressure. The first few ruptures were pretty minor, leeks really. A light spray over the top, bouncing off an umbrella made of scars.
The dam only really burst twice. It was unbearable. It wasn’t even a burst really. It was slower than that. More of a slow, uncompromising crumbling under the weight of so much mess. I just didn’t realise – I hadn’t felt in so long, living in my blissful ignorance – didn’t notice the heavy presence of the waves boiling around me until it was too late. Far too late. Chance life-lines kept me from being swept away by the rapids but I can’t count on those every time.
The walls were rebuilt, this time with doors kept safely ajar to let out the pressure. Only the tiniest of trickles, mind. Just enough so I could feel but carry on living – just enough to keep the waters at bay but keep them tamed. Tamed sufficiently anyway. Now and again a brick would fall, but bricks can be replaced, cracks re-plastered.
Only recently did I realise that the doors have been silently closing, one by one. I thought I was getting better, not having my bad days, no longer ‘not feeling’. But all I was doing was hiding myself further from reality. The frivolities and fun of summer snaring and distracting from the all too serious reality – the waters are rising. There are still tremors, there are still waves, but my walls are too good and the doors too firmly shut for me to notice. Once again I have been existing, unaware of the pressure building outside my carefully constructed reality, safe behind walls that are becoming increasing more fragile. Now they seem more like carefully constructed card towers. The umbrella has been kept in the closet for a while now, but I’m scared of wanting to reopen it. Of needing it to keep off the rain that will surely come. I’m scared of the seething, writhing thing that waits behind my walls. The monsters that lurk in the deep hungering to tear me apart. Those things that I’ve been trying to keep out for so long. Waiting.
I know I need to open the doors, I can’t afford not to – the walls can’t burst again. They can’t they can’t they can’t. But I know if I do, if I relent and turn the handle, some of the monsters behind the door will slip through, some of the flood-waters will escape. The doors have been shut for too long – torrents not trickles will force their way through. A hard rushing wall of emotion, full of slicing teeth and claws, bearing down on my paper-thin world, and I don’t know if it will still be standing when, if, the waters subside. Or if it will be left in tatters. I’m scared.
But I’m not alone.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”
All I can do is trust in Him.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
See you on the other side.