Depression, hope and liberation

A week or two ago, I had an enlightening vision. I think I was awake at the time, so it wasn’t a dream, although I suppose you could call it a daydream. Whatever it was, I can recall every moment of it with great clarity. Here’s what happened.

The weather was fine and I was standing alone in a local organic nursery, where there is a pond. I was standing near the pond, but with my back to it, facing back the way I must have walked to get there, where there are vegetables growing on either side of the path.

With no sort of build-up or warning, a thick, black-and-purple mist was sucked out from my middle – somewhere around my belly button – and cast to the ground. I knew immediately that this evil-looking fog was my depression. It had been inside me, controlling me, like some kind of possession, but now it was out – completely out.

As it hit the floor, it became something round and solid, with legs, a bit like a podgy spider, and it scuttled away into the vegetable patches. It kept peeking out at me and cautiously coming nearer, but if I stamped my foot it would scuttle away again. It was still out there, but the most important thing was that it wasn’t inside me, dictating my thoughts and moods. Furthermore, it could be repelled if I kept my wits about me.

I’ve been feeling much better over the past two or three months – so much so that I was finally able to reduce my dose of antidepressants last week and go back to the level of medication I was on before my second big bout of depression kicked off last October. I also made a triumphant exit from my counselling. This funny little vision seems like confirmation that I am indeed heading in the right direction.

I love the idea that depression is physically OUT of my body. It feels that way. For nearly three years, it has ruled the roost and called the shots, but now I’m rid of that nagging feeling of constant irriation and agitation. My memory is noticeably clearer, my thinking is sharper, and the feeling that my brain was enshrouded in a dark fog has gone. After the vision/daydream had passed, I realised that yes, that was exactly what my depression has felt like – an evil fog, not surrounding me, but possessing me.

I wrote a few weeks ago about my depression being like a pirate who’d hijacked my boat, and I invited him to walk the plank. This feels like a similar idea. Depression is out there and may try to get back in, but armed with what I’ve learned while I’ve had this vile, miserable illness, I am better equipped to keep it at bay, whether it’s a persistent pirate or a scuttling spider. It’s definitely better out than in.

In my blog posts about depression, I’ve often referred to this dark force as ‘Paul Brookes’ – a shadowy puppeteer manipulating my mind to do his foul bidding. Now I’ve imagined this wicked mist, I don’t feel it deserves a name. It is a toxic fog, not a person with a face and a personality. I’ve certainly heard it speaking far too often for my liking, as it slyly whispers “you’re not good enough” and encourages me to get angry, take everything personally and re-run imaginary arguments and worse-case scenarios in my mind when I am trying to sleep.

The voice still chirps up from time to time, but it’s easier to silence. The negative thoughts pop up now and again, but they can more readily be banished. This is my resurgence and Brookes’s demise. Still accompanied by my trusty sidekick, Citalopram, I am stepping out into the Promised Land Beyond Depression, and I like it.

Will every day be perfect? Well no, of course it won’t, but I can accept that now – and I know that there will be plenty of good times ahead. Brookes is history. Brook is the future.