Many years ago, my wife left me, seemingly for good, for reasons I still do not know.
Without realizing what was happening, I quickly found myself in that dark place called depression.
Depression is a dark box, and I was inside it, alone and isolated on the floor.
No discernable color existed there, but I remember there was an impression of dark brown or near black. I felt that the longer I was there, the darker things would become and that the walls would soon close in on me.
Everyday sounds failed to resonate there, but fell to the floor, seemingly mortified in midflight. I perceived outside noises as if I had my ear to a glass, held against a rubber wall.
Normal thinking lacked its usual electric speed. Instead, thoughts struggled through my brain like helium balloons rising through treacle. Each notion began with “Why?” or “How?” and most ended with “Help.”
It was obvious that there was no normal way out of this place; there were no doors or windows, and I could see no way out.
I sat in that terrible place for days, weeks, and months; I don’t really know, not even now. I worked, I fed my children, I functioned, and I existed … but everything, including time, seemed to have become distorted. There was no escape or solution to my predicament, and I was convinced I would be there for a lifetime. Even now I am afraid to ask how long we were apart, how long I was there. It’s as if the reality of truth could drag me back there again. Ha! Who knows?
I was trapped and I was terrified. I knew that that if I stayed there too long, I would sink through the rubber floor to an even darker and more terrible level (of depression).
Then Total Despair came by, in the guise of suicidal thought. I was about to sink further, to the depths. He threw down his gauntlet, saying, “Rise up or go down”; “Sink or swim”; “Get up or go under”; “Live or die.”
I was trapped. I was demented. I was almost suicidal and sinking deeply.
But I rose up and managed to escape.
I never want to go there again.So how did I get out, you may ask.
Well, I will tell you.
(I believe that) while my fevered, shell-shocked, conscious mind was spinning out of control, my unconscious side was planning a rescue bid.
Imagine life as a chain of occurrences, which each of us must experience during our time here. We don’t all have the same experiences, as we are usually offered free choice at the end of each episode or life lesson.
Each single event is contained in its own box or room.
Each room may have a single lesson to be learned, or it simply may contain a happy, sad, exciting or dull event that has to be undertaken. Whatever the case, they must be visited, undergone, and lived through by a person before he or she is able to move on to the next experience.
Each room has four walls, a floor, and a ceiling. The walls to the front, left, and right have doors that open outward.
The doors are there so that, once you have lived the event contained in the room, you can step out and move on to the next. You can choose to go straight ahead, take the door to the left, or take the one to the right. The choice is yours. Whichever you select, you move on to the next event in your life.
The fourth wall (the one which is always behind you) does not have a door in it. It has a window instead. The window is there so that you can look back in time, to mentally relive a moment or an experience, or to recall a lesson. That’s because you cannot physically step back in time. You can only look back through this memory window. The longer you live, the more rooms you visit and the more windows you have to look back through and, unfortunately, as with life, the more memories you have to remember and the more obscured some of them become.
So there you have it so far; you have an experience, decide on a direction, open the door, and step into the next box, closing the door behind you. You then repeat those actions all through life. Experience, learn, go left, right, or forward, move on, etc., and looking back every now and then in anger, excitement, regret or fear, etc.
Now picture all these boxes in a big block with rows, tiers, or floor levels … like a massive mountain of stacked shipping containers.
The dullest of lives might take you along a single floor level, from one boring box to the next, devoid of excitement or enlightenment, but also secure, without threat or worry. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose.
But to make things interesting, nature allows some of life’s experiences to be exhilarating or enriching in some way. After these events, you find yourself rising through the ceiling into a higher, enlightened level. As well as going forward, you go up—forward and up.
The very top floors would represent life’s highest points, times of elation, extreme happiness, rejoicing and love (oh, that we could all remain at those dizzy heights).
Unfortunately, in life there has to be checks and balances, pluses and minuses, blacks and whites, where at the top, we have levels of elation; we also have, in the lowest levels, dark boxes of dread and despair. These boxes have no doors or windows. There are no obvious exits, and you have to find your own way out. Stay there too long and you sink deeper to darker levels of despair and despondency.
I now know that it was my inner will, my own sense of survival, that rescued me from that place. Some people need help. Some never return. It was almost as if my inner self eventually managed to install a light in my box so that I could see clearly. I was then able to understand where I was and the dangers of remaining there. Somehow, thank god, I managed to stand up (on my own two feet) and force my way out through the ceiling to a higher plain. I consciously chose to go up and up and up, forcing my way through the roofs of these depression boxes, until I had reached rooms with doors and options. I chose to go on and up, up and onward. Never down! I was lucky and I will never allow myself to return there again!
So there you have it; this great mountain of boxes (experiences), all stacked together in a giant cube. Millions of them! Thousands high, thousands deep, thousands long, and thousands wide—a giant cube made up of smaller cubes, each cube is a room or box—an individual experience. The highest are simply wonderful places to be; those in the middle are simply okay; and those in the lower regions are dismal cells of mental death and decay—and somewhere, in the middle of that great assembly, is you.
Right now, you are in a box, or with luck, a room with a view and a way out, having an experience. You will soon move on to the next, the next, and the next, and hopefully have a happy time of it; remember: onward and upward—never down.
I wish you well, dear reader, whoever you are.
That Place Called Depression
I have been to that place called depression,
It’s down there ’twix dread and despair.
I’ve tried very hard to describe it to you.
So please don’t make plans to go there.
But if do you find you are heading that way,
don’t look down, don’t look left, don’t look right,
for the only way out of that desolate place
is to stand up and head for the light.
The light is above you, the ceiling is frail,
It just needs the strength of your will,
But if it’s too hard to climb out on your own,
Here I am, take my hand, let me pull.
by Colin N. Clark, 2006