Lucie Kavanagh writes:
My depression isn’t a black dog. An animal wouldn’t, couldn’t scare me as much as this does so I have to give it another image. What would it be? Nothing seems worthy of it except perhaps a cloak. A cloak that swished slowly down over two years ago, so slowly that I wasn’t even aware of it until all I could see was the darkness of it all around me and fewer and fewer chinks of light through its coarse fabric.
The most frightening thing about my depression is that it is invisible to the naked eye. Oh, the symptoms or least some of them may be obvious even if in no other way than that vague feeling of being a little different, a little quiet, whatever. And you don’t dare mention it at first. You see it through other peoples’ eyes. You throw hints at them. But it’s choking you too much and the options are getting scarcer and scarcer. You save them for a rainy day even though you are already soaked to the very bones of you.
These days the cloak isn’t choking me. I pull it behind me. Sometimes it drags in puddles so that the weight of it is unbearable. Sometimes it gets caught in the clutter of each day so that I forget about it until it snags and pulls me sharply back. The threads get caught and tangled. I patch the rips together hurriedly and move away. I only have to look around and there it is, silently reminding me that it can, at any moment, rise up and fling itself elegantly around me. It seems so tentative that mere chemicals are keeping something this powerful from enveloping me. In the brief freedom, I try to find a stronger foothold, something to give me the strength required to banish it.
I fight with it. Scream at it. Hurt it. I demand back what it’s taken from me; my feelings, my tears, my words, my peace, my ability to breathe freely and see the world in its wonderful everyday colour of normality.
Laughter, footsteps, radio, noise, coins, footprints, water, tastes, steam from hot food, fingers around a warm mug, sunlit leaves, cold dry air, pillows, warmth, firelight…
I forget that the cloak is part of me. In fighting it, I am sustaining all the injuries.
What else can I do? Is it possible to change strategy? Admit that I’ve fought long enough. Can I take the cloak on my knee and painstakingly pull out threads, one by one. Rip it apart and sew it back together so that I might always have it, might always wear it but flimsier. A light cotton maybe, or silk. The air could blow through it. It might settle around my shoulders. I won’t have to try and see the world through it.
I have battle scars and threads, ready, someday, to be stitched back together.