A match for the Dark SidePosted: February 15, 2012
There is a scene towards the end of Return of the Jedi where the evil Emperor stands over a stricken Luke Skywalker and ferociously zaps him with lightning from his finger tips.
“Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side,” he goads Skywalker, as our young hero writhes around on the floor in agony.
But the vicious villain is wrong. He is ultimately overthrown, and all because of Luke’s faith that there is still some good hidden away inside his father, Darth Vader – one of the ultimate movie baddies.
So where am I going with all this?
Well, last September I wrote about my depression for the first time, using a Star Wars analogy with Vader as ‘Stress’ and the Emperor as ‘Depression’. Since that first adventure, I’ve experienced the pitfalls of The Empire Strikes Back, the second part of the original Star Wars trilogy. When I say I’ve experienced it, I don’t mean I’ve sat down and watched it with a giant, over-priced bucket of popcorn. No, nothing fun like that. I’ve lived through the resurgence and revenge of an evil power – the one I call Paul Brookes. He is my alter-ego, who corrupts my thoughts and feelings with his equivalent of the Dark Side of the Force.
Brookes appeared to have taken a deadly blow in the first episode of my depression, but he was gathering strength, somewhere just out of view. He was waiting for my stress levels to build again, and looking for the right time to move in for the kill. And, like Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, he resurfaced and wreaked havoc. OK, so I wasn’t frozen in carbonite like Han Solo, and I didn’t have my arm sliced off like Luke Skywalker, but I did take a brutal beating from my nemesis.
Brookes’ powers had grown. Just as the Empire ruled the galaxy, Brookes ruled my brain. Just as the Empire had been building a second Death Star (a moon-sized space station with enough fire power to blow up whole planets with one blast), Brookes had been working on demolishing my rebellion with his own destructive devices – crushing my self-esteem, convincing me to take everything personally, kicking me when I was down and smashing the life out of me.
Brookes isn’t dead - yet. His Empire has not been defeated - yet. His Death Star has not been destroyed - yet. But note the word ‘yet’. Because Brookes has not killed off my hope that I will get better. He has not finished off my faith that good times will return. He has underestimated my tenacity – my determination to hang on, no matter what wounds he has inflicted on my battered body and mind. He has failed to recognise the threat that the powers of good pose to his existence.
Just as Luke Skywalker had to face up to his destiny and confront the forces of evil to complete his training, I now stand with a mission ahead of me. I have an Empire to overthrow, a galaxy to reclaim, and a better life to lead. Brookes has made me small, weak and feeble – pathetic opposition to his sneering arrogance and despicable disregard for my wellbeing. But he has not taken away my terrier-like persistence. Not permanently. I am playing Brookes at his own game. He hibernated until the time was right for him. Now I’m emerging from my own slumbers to take him on in a climactic battle.
Do not underestimate the power of the bright side of the Force, Brookes. I’m back. And this time it’s personal.