The Upside Down See-saw: a poem about depression and suicide
When depression slides into the dark realm of suicidal thoughts, the secrets deepen.
The process of withdrawal into the safety of the personal interior began in the distant past and the idea of self-annihilation pushes you further into the abyss.
Therein lies the dichotomy. On the one hand, there’s the deep yearning for understanding and compassion, while on the other hand, there’s shame, confusion and the desire to shield your secrets from prying eyes.
Those eyes belong to the ones who shake their heads in disbelief, disgust and disdain.
The ones who either have no idea about what it’s like to fall into the hidden and hopeless chasm or who are so afraid of being sucked into the vortex that they resort to ridicule in order to keep a safe distance.
Even when someone takes the time to try and understand, it takes a small forcing to share those dark thoughts, which are usually sanitized and censored.
There’s so much that begs to be revealed, but to utter those black pearls means to bring the subterranean tentacles to the surface.
How do you share the concept of losing the will to live to those who only want life for you? How do you explain the way the horrors of the world plague your thoughts at night or how nothing holds any delight, pleasure or happiness like they did before?
What can you say, when only a void filled with the ghosts of tumbleweeds and a lonely, howling wind come to mind – blocking all the fulsome things you want to convey?
In the depths, the only thoughts swirling around are the ones that remind you that nothing matters. In the scheme of things, we’re all distracting ourselves to avoid the inevitable. No matter what, we all die.
It doesn’t matter how many pills we take or how much effort we put into preserving what we call our lives. Time marches on until we slip away into the darkness and for some of us, the dark reaches out to greet us beforehand.
It’s a taste of things to come.
Try telling that to someone who tries in vain to impress on you that it all matters; that you have a duty to keep on going for the sake of others, if not for yourself. Like trained monkeys, they beseech that you have to get back on the horse, keep your chin up and get back into it.
If nothing else, it’s to make them feel better themselves, not necessarily to help you deal with your darkness.
However, one question is hard for the depressive to ignore: Why choose to focus on doom and gloom when it’s just as arbitrary to focus on joy and light?
If focusing on joy and light is only a distraction from our inevitable demise, then surely the act of focusing on doom and gloom is only a distraction from our possible liberation from darkness?
It’s all about choice.
What do we choose to dwell on, when both avenues are equal distractions? Are both points of view equally valid? Were the Buddhists right when they advised to find the Middle Way?
Depression and thoughts of suicide are like Venus fly traps; dripping with the blood of their victims. They hold us in their cold, black hands – clenched and slimy – blocking the light and clouding our vision.
This is a place where hope is crippled. Any promise of escape is blocked by the heavy drapes of despair, loneliness and self-loathing.
Why not wrench them apart and bathe in the shards of light?
Why choose to wallow in the pit, when the lightness of the soul begs to soar?
Like riding blindfolded on an upside-down see-saw, the only way out is to let go and fly.
To sink is to fail.