Mental Health Illness has no face: This is something I say often, and when I further examine such a statement, I see two meanings. The first; is that anyone can be affected regardless of who they are or what they look like. The second and not so obvious; is from the perspective of mental health itself. It’s hard to describe or put into a box, it disguises in many different cloaks, hides away for seasons and is somewhat a shape shifter in that it can manifest itself in different ways within different people. For the benefit of this piece, I’d like to discuss the topic of Depression. You’ll notice in the title of this article my use of the term ‘The Sunken Place’. After watching the movie ‘Get Out’, I found some words to closer describe the feeling of depression that lingers within my own life, and indeed it is like sinking into a hole within myself.
Although for many people, they may describe their experience in a different way, for me, the world saw my success and saw me as a beacon of hope and inspiration on the outside, but on the inside I was dying. I thought about my existence and sank deeper into a black hole within myself, saturated by the thickness and darkness of a troubled soul. I saw myself in a dark room. It was hot and steamy. The air was thick and was closing in on me. Through the fog I could see the outline of a door with a red beam penetrating the gaps beside and beneath it. I knew that whatever was behind that door wasn’t pleasant and wasn’t life, but I was suffocating in the room I were in. I wanted to leave the discomfort of one dark room, escape myself, and the deep torment by walking into a room of death.
The idea of me leaving this pain was more pleasing to me than facing the reality that death was final. I held on longer trying to disregard my lungs seizing up, my vision became distorted, my hands clammy. I tried breathing through my mouth but felt the dark air quench my windpipe. My heart was pounding and darkness was consuming me. Every thought regarding anything other than this living hell was void, and I was trapped within myself. This feeling of wanting to escape is how I feel when depression rears its ugly face, and perhaps this is how you feel too, or aspects of it.
With a plethora of positive and self-help tools at my disposal, I first turned to this path trying to encourage myself. It was too late as I had layers to work through, and no amount of positive self-talk could undo the archives of internal damage residing within me. I turned to God, as this is a fundamental part of my life, and learned that although my prayer is freedom from the pain, the depths of my darkness were not longer about escapism, rather learning how to navigate my way through the tunnel. This may be you today, looking for a way out of the darkness. Perhaps you have tried to get professional help, but had no success. Perhaps you have run out of options and are on the verge of giving up. Perhaps you have run out of energy and hope, and your once desire to escape from dark to light is now an escape from dark to nothingness. If this is you, take some ounce of comfort in knowing that you’re not alone as I too often feel like this.
For a long while I battled with what seemed at the time an oxymoron: me smiling at the crowds, yet feeling so void. I then saw the power in taking each day one at a time and still choosing to live though I am in the sunken place. You see I believe that it’s in the pressing where we see that our prayers are indeed being answered. While I asked for an escape, God gave me strength sufficient for each day and moment. Brick by brick, step by step, I began to navigate through the dark, trusting in His grace for each compartmentalized section of my life. With each hour that passed, I gain the courage to face the next until my hours turn into a full day. I’d keep the same approach for each hour of the following day until I successfully managed to make it through another day, and I am still doing the same. While some days are better than others, I know that I am making progress, because I am still alive and sharing hope with others.
My advice for you today is to keep pressing. Pressing doesn’t have to be a public display. Press in private. Set yourself small achievable goals just like I do. Make it through your next hour and then tackle the next. Don’t see these tiny achievements as insignificant. They are not. In-fact, they are major moments within your journey towards Better Days.
Keep your head up and your shoulders back my friend.
This is not how your story ends;
Signed Steve Whyte
W| By Steve Whyte @IamSteveWhyte