Talk for Health recently hosted a Special event with acclaimed author Wendy Jones (author of The Sex Lives of English Women: Intimate Questions and Unexpected Answers, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl (the biography of Grayson Perry) as well as two novels: The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals, and The World is a Wedding).
Wendy took everyone through a number of short writing exercises, beginning with prompts such as ‘deep’ and ‘rest’ and later into less structured writing.
It was a wonderful event that provoked a number of deeply thoughtful responses. One of the participants was kind enough to share her work with us, and we feel it has described depression in an accurate and profound way. We share it here in case it’s helpful for anyone to bring words to their own experience.
Do bear in mind that this is an emotional piece, so please consider that before reading.
Depression is hell. The most difficult thing I have experienced in my whole life. You cannot know anything of it unless you’ve been there. It’s unimaginable, unfathomable, indescribable. Pain.
I read so often of the black dog and the dark veil and I couldn’t yet comprehend how they applied to me – but they did. And then I found myself writing about it too.
What they don’t tell you is you can’t see the veil until the light shines on it a bit. That’s why I suddenly found I understood why people take their own lives. When you’re there you don’t know the veil is on; it’s just dark. And if it’s dark enough for long enough of course you’ll want a way out.
I thought it was the only option for a while.
I am Depression. I own you. I hold you still as long as I like and control your movements. I manage your thoughts and ensure they don’t stop. I am unkind and dangerous. I am mysterious, sly and versatile. I want to stop you functioning. I want the dishes to pile up, conversations to be stilted, shame to conquer. I want to destroy relationships. I want you to lose faith in yourself and your loved-ones. I am relentless and rein supreme.
I am [Name] and I’m not putting up with this s*** anymore. I will find a way around you. I will succeed and win out. You are not stronger than me. You will not destroy me. I don’t care how sly you can be, I have perseverance like you’ve never seen. I know I am loved. I know my family care. I can be upset about how they ignore it, that’s OK. But under it all they are my reason for living and you can’t take that away from me. I didn’t know myself the strength I had in me; but now I’ve seen it I’ll never forget.
If you ever find yourself feeling something similar, please don’t hesitate to seek help – the Samaritans are a good place to start: https://www.samaritans.org/