A Flicker in the Darkness

I just can’t do it anymore; the shutters have fallen and there’s nothing left. My will to push on is ebbing and waning. I’ve felt out of control; a silent witness. I struggle to engage in the intimacies of conversation or everyday life, and I’ve anaesthetised myself and built giant prison walls around my heart and soul, trying to present a façade of happiness by creating a sterile, indifferent landscape to the world but feeling a kaleidoscope of pain inside. Although I have days when I long for death to come and greet me, deep down, I still want to live. I want to feel, to be alive, to thrive. I’ve vanished behind the closed curtains of everyday life; I’ve nowhere left to go…

July/August 2016

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There are times in life when challenge after challenge comes crashing in onto the shoreline of the soul and, when it reaches saturation point, the shutters fall (and I reach moments where the above words reflect my pain). I close the curtains on the world as my senses simply cannot take any more and I slip into a kind of energetic and spiritual vegetative state. I often spend weeks in the darkness, sometimes I flail about, trying to make sense of my pain, contemplating the hoped-for peace of death, and sometimes I just lay there, observing my fragility and feeling a tingling of hope when an in-breath follows an out-breath, letting me know I’m still alive, and giving me a sense of continuity. Then one day the dawn sun starts to rise in my soul and brings me the whisperings of hope and a renewed determination to keep breathing.

I’ve grown used to the ebb and flow of my soul: I thrive during the creative ‘up’s’, when I feel connected to the world and I curl up during the low’s when I simply cannot function anymore. Someone once said to me that ‘depression is the curse of the strong’ and it took me many years to understand that phrase as I only ever felt ‘less than’ for feeling fragile and broken. It was only when I stopped fighting my depression and began accepting it as a part of my life did I see the bigger picture: it was my own determination to keep the stoical stiff upper lip which led to the development of the deep cracks and chasms in my heart and soul.

In short, I wasn’t listening to my inner self and I was trying to push on in life, ignoring the imbalances within. Yet this resolve cannot be sustained indefinitely and this is where the fractures develop and I was pushed beyond the brink to ‘let go’.

Khalil Gibran once wrote:

‘Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars’.

I have many scars, both visible and not so visible, but it was only when I stopped trying so hard to ‘fix’ myself, I began to find a more balanced, compassionate and loving way of living and being. I stopped striving for perfection and stopped beating myself up for not doing more, being more or achieving more. Acceptance doesn’t mean I can’t change or re-establish equilibrium, but it’s also important to live life as fully as possible, the highs with the lows, as this brings richness and colour to the often colourless landscape that depression can invoke for me: I turn down the colour on the world as I cannot take the sensory overload and somehow the monochrome hues dull the intensity and gives me a little bit of breathing space. When the clouds pass and the colour is switched back on, the world comes to life and I sense every colour, texture and sound with more vividness and energy than ever before.

I’ve connected with a great many souls from around the world and I’ve noticed a common theme as so many deeply spiritual and creative souls are ‘seared with scars’ and it seems the pain becomes the source of compassion and inspiration. It’s taken me a long time to master the true art of vulnerability and allow myself to acknowledge, allow and be open about all aspects of my Self. I fought it and denied it all for years, trying to push the difficult stuff away and trying to smile over the cracks, but now I’ve turned to my whole Self and started to love it all wholeheartedly and unconditionally, I’ve grown exponentially as a person, my internal dialogue changed and I found I could invoke a deeper level of love and compassion for myself.

Whilst we are all unique, and experience life in different ways, hope is often found even in the most unexpected and obscure nooks and crannies of life. It’s hard to articulate but my spirit is still singing –  even when the lights flicker or go out – and during the dark times I hear silent whispers of encouragement echoing through the long corridors of my soul. My spirit is full of fire and it still dances, even in the darkness…