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Why My Depression Is Like a Dark Prison Cell

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My mind is like a dark room. The walls are prison bars, scratched and dented from my desperate attempts to escape. The bars are rusted from the tears I’ve cried on them, holding on to them as the last thing to hold me up. I’ve shaken at them frantically, praying this time will be different, this time they’ll break, that I can be free.

However, they rarely did; they stayed strong, slowly feeding off my energy, as I then lay collapsed on the floor, my breathing shallowed, staring at the world beyond the bars. There’s a light I can see in the far-off distance, small strands coming through the bars like fingers, reaching for me, trying to save me, but from the floor, I stare up at them. I so long to hold onto them; I long to cherish that strand of hope just for a second, just long enough to give me the smallest amount of energy, use them as a rope to pull myself back up, because that could break the slowly decaying bars.

I need the hope more the anything in order to keep me going before I just turn to bones on the dusty ground beneath me. But by the time they’ve reached me, the strands of light are weak themselves; they disperse the second my hand makes contact, fading into the blackness as if they were never there in the first place. In some moments I question their existence; is it all this one giant mirage to keep me going, to keep me moving from one day to the next? Is it created by the bars, so they can keep draining the energy from me? That’s why I don’t bother reaching up for them anymore; I lie on the ground beneath them and watch them come and go. I watch the speckles of dust illuminated by it, and for a second I see the pain this is causing and how horrible this all is, because the dust is made out of all the brokenness, all the fractured pieces of my life, forming on all the things which are on hold, which have been paused whilst I’m trapped in this cell. But then the dust sinks back to the ground, the light fades and I’m in nothing by the darkness. But it’s blinding, suffocating darkness; it smothers you until you end up choking on it, as it seems to completely drown you.

Sometimes the walls do shatter, the bars snap or bend, and I can suddenly see a way to escape it all. But the dust from the ground rises up and forms shackles on my hands and feet, pulling me back, so I stay within my confined cell. But the energy I now have means I pull at them, and reluctantly they loosen, sometimes to the point where I’ve even taken a couple of shaky steps outside of my cell. One time I managed to get to the brink of the light, I could see the blinding rays, and this time they were tangible; they didn’t disperse at contact but stayed strong. You could hold onto them this time and pull yourself forward, and I began to see the freedom that existed in the light. But I turned around, I saw the safety of my old cell somewhere in the distance, seeing some of the bars illuminated by a ray of light every now and again. Then I looked down, and the shackles were still there; no matter how long the chains had gotten, the shackles were still gripped tightly at my hands and feet.

In the first moment when I’m tired of pulling and stop to rest, stop to take in the light, the chains tighten again; they see their chance and slowly start to pull me back. I can feel it, I know it’s happening, and at first, I try to fight it. I call out for help, but it gets to the point where I’m just so tired, where I have just no energy so I don’t see the point fighting it. So I let it drag me back into the cell, and it uses the remainder of the energy I collected on my journey to freedom the make the bars reform even stronger this time.

So once again I’m lying in the dust, looking up at the rays of light appearing and disappearing above me. I can hear the far-off calls of loved ones, I always have, but through the cell bars, they get distorted. The words become hard and tone cold. So, it’s better to just tune out to the world. Although in pain, although in fear, although feeling weak and exhausted and having a tear-stained face, there is something safe about these four walls. Something safe about this prison cell in my mind.

Photo by Christopher Windus on Unsplash

Originally published: April 24, 2019
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