THE DARKNESS OF DEPRESSION
by Anton Wills-Eve
Let’s get really morbid!
THE DARKNESS OF DEPRESSION
When our minds totally lose control and everything around us seems hopeless, horrifying, sad beyond belief and frankly tempts us to commit the ultimate act of despair – suicide – we have only one avenue of salvation left. The unexpected kind word of a friend.
To fight the demons of hopelessness that plague those so unfortunate that they can see no chance of anything ever going right again in life a kind word is often all that they have left to hang on to. Take the case of Theresa, for example. Imagine this. She was aged twenty two and had finished her degree exams at university despite overcoming several obstacles. Firstly she fell in love with another student a year earlier and married him. Both of them were very happy, but all too soon she became pregnant and had to study as she went through the problems of pre-natal life while trying to work as well.
She was lucky that her husband understood and helped all he could, but finding a first home, looking after a newly born son just before her final exams and trying to begin a proper family life at the same time was all starting to prove too much for her. True, it eased as the studying and exams finished. Her husband was offered a junior lectureship while carrying on for a doctorate and things were looking up at last. Then Theresa went into Uni one morning to hear her results and was shattered to discover she had failed to gain a pass. They said she could do her third year again, but with a child it might be too much. She texted the news to her husband who said he and their baby son would pick her up at the college and cheer her up. Imagine what went through her head as his car rounded a bend approaching her and was crushed by a huge lorry that killed their baby son and his father on the spot.
Theresa was quickly taken to the nearest hospital, unable to take in what had happened. As an orphan, a happy family of her own had been something she always craved and she had been given it. But her mind could not accept a new world in which such ultimate happiness had been snatched away from her. She found she could not speak.
Weeks in a psychiatric ward being cared for by so many well meaning people never restored this ability to articulate a single sound of grief, of pity, of anger or of despair. She was mentally empty and her mouth said nothing for there was nothing left inside her heart to say. Her world was one dark, black hole with no top and no bottom. And the darkness started to choke all hope and life out of Theresa as she could see less and less. All she could cry were dry tears because nothing liquid remained in her soul to sustain her or even to assuage the final thirst she cried out for to end the misery which was now the sum of all that her life had become.
Jack was a rising star in the football world and at twenty one was a genuinely talented prospect. His family and mates saw him making the big time and playing in a premiership league team for ten or fifteen years. In short he was on the fast track to wealthy stardom and he loved it. A pleasant young man he was quite good looking and several girls soon tried to win him over. But his good humour and popular personality did not allow his level head to turn him away from training hard and putting his club and team first. Then came that awful day.
His side were two up and playing well in the third round of the cup, not least thanks to his fine performance. He had scored one goal and made another. The fans were chanting “Nice one Jack, never let them back”, his signature tune on the pitch, when it happened. A crunching brute of a tackle from behind brought him crashing to the turf and he felt his ankle go. He was stretchered off, but worse was to come. After two operations it was feared a double fracture would never heal properly and then the ultimate fear of every sportsman. The fractures went septic and do what they might the doctors had no option but to remove half of his right foot. His career was finished.
Fickle girlfriends drifted away. His parents tried to cheer him up but he shrugged them off. He had a large amount of money in the bank but this seemed to get at him more. He would not touch or spend it, save for the occasional small gift to a relative in need. He started to shun his mates and retired into his shell. Soon everyone was worried for his sanity as he withdrew into himself and eventually he was talked into seeking psychiatric treatment. But the hospital only made the darkness of his world seem blacker and lonelier than before. He too was a victim of cruel fate and he blamed nobody but himself. He could not understand why he felt guilty, he had not injured himself after all. But he had this awful, stifling feeling that he had let everyone down. Soon he even stopped talking. He just sat on the sunny lawn outside his ward and drew his legs up to his forehead and clutched his knees in a vice like grip. His eyes never moved from the remains of his useless foot.
For several days Theresa had noticed this silent, brooding lost young man who always kept to himself much as she did herself. Then for the first time in a couple of months, just as she was wondering how many more of her pills she needed to save instead of taking them, so she would have enough to take the lot at once and end everything, she felt a tiny twinge of pity and sorrow for another person who was so obviously suffering as she was. She calculated she had enough pills now and could end it all whenever she wished. But first she had to do something for the poor boy, so lost on the lawn, so lonely and forlorn. She slowly walked up to him and sat down a few feet away.
There they sat, mute and depressed beyond endurance for twenty minutes until at last Jack summoned up the courage to say something for the first time in five weeks. He looked pleadingly at Theresa and somehow managed to say, a little more loudly than he intended and with tears in his sunken eyes,
“Help.” This one word, crying out for a kind response, was enough to make Theresa forget her own mental agony for a moment and turn to him,
“I can wait a few more weeks, here take these,” she said as she watched Jack down all her pills in two swallows with water from the plastic bottle which she gave him. She smiled, so pleased with herself for being able to release another person from a darkness she imagined to be even blacker than her own.