I have been very nervous about posting this piece, because it is an insight into my struggles with depression and anxiety. Despite leaps forward, there is a still a stigma attached to mental health issues, and you never really know how people will react when they find out. I believe it is important to discuss such things openly and honestly, because not only will that help end the stigma, it may also help someone who is experiencing their own personal struggle. This piece, ‘Black Ink’, is my attempt to explain to someone who is lucky enough to have never suffered from depression, what it feels like, or at least, what it feels like to me. I would love to know your thoughts. And if anyone reads this, and sees something familiar, I urge them to talk to someone and seek help, and most of all, do not feel ashamed or embarrassed. You would never be embarrassed if you were diagnosed with a physical illness, and this is no different, because that’s what it is, an illness. I won’t pretend it’s easy, but you can come out the other side, you can manage it, and you can rise up, stronger than ever.
If humans were made of machinery and cogs, I would be malfunctioning. As they say, I have a few screws loose. It’s hard to explain Depression to someone who is lucky enough to have never suffered from mental illness themselves. Depression is like black ink, which spreads through the waters of your life, tainting and discolouring everything. It’s difficult, sometimes impossible, to see anything beyond that thick black, and often, things can seem hopeless. Light cannot reach that place, so even moments of joy and tenderness, are lost to shadows and lethargy. Every happy moment loses it’s shine, and is more often than not, missed entirely.
It’s as if the very mechanisms by which you feel emotions, are broken. If screws are indeed loose, it is in the part of your soul which helps us experience happiness and joy, sadness and anger, love and hate. It’s not necessarily that you are sad all the time, it’s more like an overwhelming numbness. That thick black ink blocks everything out, and you feel alone, and lost. If you are very lucky, a hand will come through that black, and pull you clear. But if you have no one to talk to, no one to offer their ears, their sympathy, their support, then you can sink beyond reach.
That is why it is so vital that we talk about it openly. You cannot see mental illness. It does not scar the skin or burn the flesh. It’s invisible, and hidden away beneath fake smiles and reassurances that everything is fine. I’m Fine. There is no shame in mental illness, in fact, it is more prevalent than most people think. It does not discriminate by race or colour or religion, it targets anyone, everyone. All around you people are experiencing their own personal struggle through the darkness which slowly closes in around them. Think about the people you know and love. Statistically, your Mother, your Sibling, your friend, your colleague are experiencing their own version of that black ink, spreading through their life and their minds. Please, reach out to them, give them your hand, and help them escape from the blackness, before it swallows them whole.