Me And My Shadow.

It’s hard to write about this.

Though not what i usually post here, I suppose I feel it’s important, or perhaps I just feel I need to share how I feel today.

I have always been very honest about the fact that I suffer from depression and that I have my entire life. It’s not the kind that is caused by anything outside of myself (though obviously external influences don’t help) but the kind that manifests itself in my brain for no apparent reason at all. It has been the bane of my existence at times and at other times we have settled into an uneasy alliance. For the most part it has limited my life, my experiences with the feelings of worthlessness it brings and the lack of consistency it allows me in my life.

It has directly affected my relationships, my work life, the quality of my life and those I love. I have tried therapy, psychiatry, psychology, medication, meditation, mindfulness, Zen study, alcohol, drugs… all I can say is I have tried with varying results, none of them successful.

After my marriage ended at the start of last year, I kept on, through all the trials and tribulations it brought. I hadn’t suffered a depressive episode since then. Sure, I have felt far from my best and have suffered incredible feelings of pain and loss, but they were human feelings. I knew where they came from and I knew how to deal with them.

Then, this week it returned. No rhyme. No reason. No cause. No solution.

It feels like emotional quicksand, where you’re exhausted from trying, sick and weary and at the end of all things. It’s impossible to describe, like sickness and dread and worry and anxiety and stress and disappointment… There are no words for it, but I try because they’re all I have right now.

It’s a shameful disease to live through. It is perfect in its execution. Its very symptoms prevent you from dealing with the illness itself. It is self-perpetuating. It filters your vision, turning everything you do or attempt to do in failure and self doubt. It convinces you that you’re weak and ineffective, sexless and ugly by removing any reference to anything else. I have described it as seeing the world from the bottom of a well; you can recognize it, but you can’t connect while stuck in that darkness.

it is my shadow, it follows me everywhere i go. It falls inward.

It leaves you immeasurably sad, like you are grieving for something incalculably vast and essential but you have no idea what. For me it ends in self loathing, all those previous feelings amalgamated into a self-hatred which is breathtaking in its ferocity. It is executed by a voice which knows exactly where to hurt me, exactly what to say to inflict the most damage; my own. It screams and whispers and rattles through my head endlessly, abusing and insulting me until I can barely think or function.

That’s where I am right now. It is a nightmare place with no way of lessening it effect until it leaves of its own accord.

So why am I telling you this? Why share something that can’t be changed?

So that you can better understand. It is in the hope that if you have someone in your life who suffers from the same or if you yourself do, that it provides some insight, some sense of recognition. In my life I have had very few who truly understand, who honestly empathise with my condition. For many years those who should have been closest to me, who should have been the most understanding have made me feel guilty and ashamed of my condition, regardless of how hard I have fought it and regardless of how much I have achieved regardless of its effect.

I would not wish that for anyone else, especially when feeling the effects of this illness.

Because that’s all it is. An illness.

It is not a weakness and, more importantly, it is not our fault. All we can is the best we can whilst under its effect.

Like I’m trying to do now.

I hope this helps someone, somewhere.

Cover illustration by AJ Giel:

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