A soul-sucking depression

IMG_0088It was a cold, fall day.  Red weathered Maple leaves were on the ground.  Becca and I were sitting in the visit room at the Dwight Correctional Center where she was serving a sixty-year sentence for allegedly killing her five-year-old step-daughter.  Becca still does not remember committing the crime, but believes that she did because the authorities told her that she did.  I often wonder if Becca’s abusive husband might have killed the little girl.  The two of us, Becca and I, had numerous visits spread over a three year period.  I continually tried to crawl into her mind and grab hold of her feelings; experience her emotions, and then put them into words.  As a writer, that’s my job.

Throughout my book, “Cherry Blossoms & Barren Plains:  A woman’s journey from mental illness to a prison cell,” I used metaphors to describe Becca’s mental state.  “It was as if someone or something, possibly alien, took over her mind.  I can see how an imaginary octopus-like creature might have controlled her thoughts.  Living in the lowest part of her brain and hidden by darkness, this creature, the one I imagined, reached outward with it eight tentacles, each lined with two rows of suction cups, and latched onto her mind.   No one escaped its grip.  When threatened, it released an inky-black liquid that allowed it to slip away.  Even if one of its tentacles was severed, one quickly regrew, making it impossible to kill.  This octopus-like creature, the one that I imagined, the one that invaded Becca’s mind, is called bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness.”

I’ve felt the soul-sucking depression before.  Not to the extent of someone suffering from bipolar disorder, but enough to put me into a fetal-like position, while I waited for the darkness to pass.  It was the same feelings I experienced in therapy when I relived my memories of childhood sexual abuse.  The idea was to desensitize the feelings of depression so I could better manage them.  “Manage” is the key word.  They never completely go away.  Now, I sense when depression is on the horizon.  Although it moves in like a fog at morning’s first light, it’s quite different. A black fog, yes that’s what it is.  One that seeps upward through the earth’s crust, and most likely originates from hell. The devil must regurgitate this foul smelling substance and send it my way.  Sometimes I run away or walk around it.  Other times I am able to muster up an invisible shield that protects me from its onslaught.  But I must admit that there are moments when the black fog reaches me as I struggle to escape.  If unchecked, it can engulf me into total darkness with no way to escape.  Sometimes I play dead until it passes.  For some, it can be so bad that they choose to die.

One time, while in a sleep-like meditation, I thought about the people who weren’t able to escape depression.  I was focused on a person that I had known from years past.  She was found hanging from the ceiling.  How could she have chosen such a painful way to end her life, I thought.  Then, right before my eyes, I imagined this person like I had never seen her before.  I believe that she showed me an image of her inner self on that tragic day.  No words were needed.  The dark bags under her eyes pulled her sight downward.  Skin the color of tree rot covered his face.  And if she had tried to smile, her face would have broken into a billion pieces.  The hair on her head had been pulled in different directions at the same time.  This woman yearned to scream, but she was unable to utter a single sound.  And then came the blackbirds singing in the dark black night.  There was no escape.  She chose to die.  

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