Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Losing your Vitality

Depression affects a lot of people, some surveys say as many as one in ten. But what does it cost the sufferer?

I have lived with depression my entire life. As a child I was unable to get out of bed some mornings, mentally paralysed, something that has occasionally afflicted me as an adult. I've attempted suicide twice and considered it seriously on many other occasions, including the recent past.

The piece below was written two years ago in one of 'my moods', as some people have chosen to call them. I titled it 'A Dying Flame of Hope'. My current 'mood' is the same as it was when I wrote this piece, though the life I lead is slightly different. If all goes according to the normal cycle, I shall feel better by Friday.

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There are moments in everyone's life, at least in the lives of those who have a heart, when all you want is for someone to come and hold you and take away your troubles. You want them to fix it all, to make the world right. You want them to fix your problems, the world around you and give hope where there is none.

Those are the moments when life seems darkest and most cruel. For me, that moment has arrived...again.

I thought that I had left that feeling behind. That sense of utter helplessness which you can fall into, often through no fault of your own.

My first eighteen years of life were filled with despair. In my very early years I didn't know what this was. I also assumed that it was natural. But as I grew, I felt more and more alone, as if I was outside of life, looking in.

I became aware of my uniqueness and individuality at a very early age. I came to know that there would never be another like me, nor had there ever been before. No one else could, or would, ever see through my eyes. Only me.

As I approached my teenage years, as I watched life happen to everyone else, I withdrew, locking my hopes onto the one thought that kept me going. A fervent, almost religious belief that life would get better once I left childhood behind, once I entered the world of adults.

It didn't work out and I entered my first period of hopelessness. There followed two failed suicide attempts, before I made my first big decision. I resigned my job and walked away from the painful security I had come to know.

What lay beyond? I didn't know. All I knew was that it couldn't be worse: and I was right. My life slowly improved over the years and it seemed to reach new heights each year, culminating in the day I married. It was as high as I got.

The last 16 years have been a slow agonising descent into the misery and despair that I thought I had left behind. Twisting and turning, my life sunk back, more painful than before. At each step down into the darkness I tried to halt the decline, hoping that it would end there and I would sink no lower.

There were occasional moments when my life rose a step or two. The births of my children, my graduation, a new job. But they were only candles in the gloom that I was sinking into. Now all is dark and I have only one candle of hope left: my children. I doubt they will ever know how much I have sacrificed so they could have both parents with them for as long as possible. I'm not sure that I want them to know.

My marriage is over, destroyed by the woman in whom I invested so much trust and all the love I could muster. The woman to whom I gave my soul, my life, my hopes. It only remains for the law to finish its work and cut the final cord that holds us together as man and wife.

My last remaining candle is my hope that I will be able to keep them near me until they are ready to make their own lives. When that is done, when they are able to live their own lives, make their own decisions and their own mistakes I can lie back and rest.

But there are struggles ahead, struggles which I feel too weak to continue.

I know I am weak and feeble. Small problems that only a year ago I would have faced calmly seem now to be immovable rocks in my path. Were I alone I would surely give up and let waves of despair roll over me and wash me out to sea. But there are three lives that, whether they know it or not, need me. For them I continue on. Without them there is no reason to continue living in pain.

I need someone to hold me, to wrap me up in warmth and take away my pain. But that won't happen. I choose to continue for now, while there is still hope, whilst the solitary candle continues to burn. Should the flame ever die, then.......

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