Springingtiger's Blog


Clinging by my fingernails

I recently tweeted that depression demands distraction, drugs or death; yes it’s that time again when I sink into the abyss of self-pity and inflict my suffering on anyone unsuspecting, or stupid enough to listen! Actually it’s the quest for distraction that has called me to put a metaphorical pen to metaphorical paper, in reality I’m typing on a PC keyboard and saving to the cloud, and unless you print this out (shame on you destroyer of forests!) paper and ink will never be involved.

I have been watching comedy. I have been trying to fill every empty moment with comedy, or films, anything to avoid indulging my own thoughts. I may look as if I am being entertained, but in reality I am clinging to the edge of the abyss by my fingernails. It is a truth I learned in NLP, that no one is depressed all the time, and so I seek constant distraction from my thoughts. It does work to some extent until the distraction ends, but then there are the horrible moments when the blackness swallows me, horrible moments like standing, waiting for a bus in the morning gloom, beneath clouds dripping with sad summer rain. Waking in an empty house, filling the hours before work, without a word from another person breaking the chain of bleak thoughts (and there is only one person whose voice I want to hear), without a hug when the tears begin to flow in the emptiness.

I have been watching comedy to draw my eyes from the incompleteness around me, the jobs not completed, the rain blighted garden with so much left undone. Somehow even the reading which might normally fill my leisure time is being left unread, adding to the piles of unsorted paper around me. I love to read, but the emptiness refuses to allow me to settle myself into the words. The words fail to draw me away from myself and so the thoughts crowd in to drag me to the pit. As I walk from the bus to work I have to listen to my iPod to disrupt my thoughts and ensure I obey the highway code; language tapes are suitably demanding and prevent me from wallowing in self-pity as I walk.

One side effect of the Paralympics is their ability to transform my self-pity into self-disgust. These paralympians are men and women who have overcome truly life destroying occurrences. They have had not only limbs, and organs, and faculties, but also careers, relationships, friends, torn from them Despite having every reason to give up they have come back and triumphed over every adversity; if they can do so much, what right do I have to be depressed? Logically I find the paralympians truly inspiring, but as I watched them march (or roll, or limp) into the stadium at the opening of the games, I did not feel inspired, I felt helpless because I cannot find within me the strength to do a fraction of what they have done; worse, I find within me no shred of hope that I might. I don’t know what it is that enables someone to find such strength when faced with overwhelming loss, but I believe the NLP presupposition that, anything one person can do another can learn to. I don’t know how I will learn, or from where the lesson will come, and so I am, in the meantime, clinging by me fingernails from the edge of the abyss.

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