Many of us have our dark places. Those shadowy places in our heads where we get stuck fighting the demons inside. This is what mine is like…
I feel helpless. Dependent. I can’t get out of bed. I find it hard to feed myself. I yearn for a fatherly and/or motherly presence in the sky to step in and hold me in their blessed hands. But…I know that what I most yearn for is what I least need. That it would simply enable the helplessness. And so the battle inside is between the part of me what wishes to be saved and the part of me that knows only I can do it. The paradox of it all is that the latter is hard because…well, it’s hard to breath much less do the work.
I feel like a time traveler who isn’t in control of his time travel machine; who is in different times and places all at once. I feel like I’m in the cradle. I feel like I’m waiting on the porch for my father. I feel like I’m facing every traumatic moment in my whole life at once. My mind says, “You’re okay. You are in a relatively good place in your life. Things are actually okay.” My nervous system says, “Danger! Danger! Hide! Run!”
I feel empty. I feel like I want to devour everything and everyone which terrifies me and, conversely, makes me want to avoid everyone. I’d like to say this was selfless. And certainly, there is a bit of a selfless component. But a big chunk of it is just survival. I know how the hungry ghost comes across to others. Hell, I know how I respond to hungry ghosts!
I feel so lonely. From this place it’s hard to take anything in; so the loneliness isn’t about not having anyone, it’s about knowing that it’s hard to feel it. And the harder I try to feel it, the further I get.
I start to feel ashamed and guilty. I tell myself that I’m a bad everything. I feel like I’m falling short in my duties as…everything.
That’s the thing with my dark place. Trying hard doesn’t work. A lot of people think mental illness is a weakness of will. It’s not. I have a strong will. Stubborn even. I fight and I fight and I fight but it seems to make things worse. Yet it’s hard to “let go”; to “give in”. I think it’s a bit like quicksand. The instinct is to flail and fight to get myself out, but it only makes me sink.
So here I am. I think I have a map. The map that will help me get back home. But it looks like such a long and painful journey and I feel so….weak. Maybe it’s okay to crawl home. The way I crawl from the gym to my car (metaphorically speaking). I don’t know. I just know that it’s hard and that I haven’t any choice.