Monday, 2 May 2011

The Abyss

My mood has been stable for two days now. Not 'good', not 'happy', not even really 'functioning', to be honest, but stable.

There have been moments - some of them measured in hours - of sadness, some where the tears felt like they were only a heartbeat away, but then things have settled again.

The sucking void of blackness that has dominated my world for several months is still there, below me, like the pool of water at the base of a well. It waits beneath a mesh that hides it from view, but allows the feel and the stench of it to rise up. You sense somehow that if you wanted to, you could push down on the mesh and it would first stretch, moulding to the shape of your hand, then finally give way, with a sickeningly fleshy-sounding 'pop'. And then you would be there once more, floundering, drowning in the abyss.

The only thing I don't know is how much pressure the mesh will bear. I suspect, at this point, very little. So I dare not probe it, because who knows, once you fall through, whether you can climb back out again. Or how long it could take for the scab-like mesh to grow over again.

Better not to touch it, not to test the strength of it for a while yet. The longer you leave it, the stronger it will get. Till hopefully you can jump around on top of it and still not fall through.

Of course, even with all that care and attention, there's still no guarantee that something won't cause the fragile membrane to rupture. So I continue hiding from the world, avoiding anything that could put it at risk. The fact that I have no idea what might or might not harm it only makes it more difficult. Gingerly I test it from time to time, just to make sure it's still in place, then move away, lest checking it's integrity causes exactly the kind of damage I dread finding.

11.30. Unexpected discovery: the panic attacks and the abyss of depression are somehow the same thing. As I settle down for sleep, the feelings of impending panic start, and I realise they actually feel the same as when I reach down to touch the edge of the blackness.

The fear over that discovery is enormous - not only the existing fear of the panic taking over, but outright terror that if the panic does break through, I'll be overwhelmed once more by the hideous depression.

The problem in fighting this new, two-fold attack, is that the panics have always felt very external to me, and I've countered them by envisaging myself inside a protective bubble. But the abyss is deep inside; I've overcome that by not probing too far down. But how do I fight something both internal and external at the same time?

Normally, when the panics take over, the best thing is to relax, see myself safe in that bubble and just let go. But when I try that now, I find myself falling down the well into the abyss, and the blackness starts swallowing me up. It's like the mere act of relaxing is pushing me down through that mesh.

After some experimenting, the solution seems to be to relax *around* the well, rather than falling down inside it. It's not easy, but when I do manage it, there are no more panics. I think all this must mean that the panic attacks have always represented the deepest parts of the depression. I thought they were somehow separate, a symptom, but not the core, but it looks like I was wrong.

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