Today, I drew my depression.
At first it looked like a black rainbow. Then I realised the shape was also like a magnet. The pull of the magnet is always there; and depending on my mood or state of mind the magnet pulls me closer or repels me. There is a plus and a minus. Opposites attract.
I can either try and climb up the side of the rainbow, sliding back down to the ground with varying measures of indignity, stunned; or stand on top of it, balanced, feet astride, powerful; or stand away from it, unbalanced yet safe, keeping one eye on the horizon; or shelter underneath it, cowering yet protected: but I always feel the pull of it. It is always there. A forcefield.
It is, in fact, an ally. An impetuous child. I am actually grateful for it. I can stand on its shoulders. I have stood on its shoulders. I will stand on its shoulders again.
Without it, I don’t think I would be a composer; I don’t think I would have started taking photographs; I don’t think I would have started writing. Or- maybe I would have. I will never know. But I have it to thank for this: it made my creativity rise up in me like an explosion. A quiet and very, very gradual explosion, but an explosion nonetheless.
It is a flow, going clockwise; what I learnt is that depression is actually a flow. It demands attention. It demands that you give yourself attention. Your full attention. It taught me about process. And time. And it also taught me about stopping. Stopping completely, where each second can feel like a year.
There might be glittering treasure at the end of this black rainbow; but all colour and meaning and magic have been drained away while in the middle of it. Cancelled out. The treasure feels like light years away while in the middle of this forcefield. It is a feeling of knowing you are in a rainbow- which is life, I suppose- but feeling that this rainbow is monochrome; and feeling that your spirit is dying, in the knowing of this. It feels like being exiled to another world.
But then a realisation: the treasure is in fact to be found in the simplest of things, such as making a cup of tea, or looking up at the sky, or a gentle hand on your shoulder. And the treasure has in fact been there all along.
At the height of the depression, I was reduced to a completely paralysed physical state, only feeling capable of breathing, my world reduced to inhaling and exhaling air: and even this I tried to cancel out in the depths of the very blackest moment.
The RSI in my arms represented my whole body and soul trying to tell me I had to deal with things. Taking away being able to express myself at the piano meant I was forced to deal with things emotionally that I had long put off. But it needed to be done, this addressing of things, despite the indescribable pain.
This impetuous child threw off all the lids of everything I had so carefully boxed up internally and giggled with glee. I needed to be made a mess of internally in order to see where I really existed, who I really was; depression wrought this from me.
I live with this black rainbow every day of my life; I acknowledge it and respect it, and never hide it. It will always be there. But today was the first time I gave it a name, a sense, an image. I think I have been too frightened to before, for fear of it becoming too powerful all over again.
I had, until today, portrayed my depression as standing alone, in the middle of an empty swimming pool, with no ladders, looking out at the people getting on with their daily lives above and raising my voice in a long silent scream: but I think this portrayal has changed; because I have changed. The water has returned; I can swim again.
And I love rainbows.