I’m in a tunnel, I’m not sure where. It’s dark. I’m running. Fast. Tracks stretch ahead of me and I can hear a train behind me. The noise is killing me. Taking over my thoughts – I can no longer think straight. I’m not sure how close it is. I daren’t look. Just need to keep running.
Depression hits you out of the blue. I will go for months, years even without an episode and then suddenly it’s there and by the time I’ve recognised it, I’m out of control, desperately grasping for stability across my life, fighting for control but slipping, sliding downwards until it’s ruling your life again.
I break out of the tunnel into green fields and sunshine. I’m still running now. I can still hear the train. There’s a corner ahead and I’ve no idea what lies beyond it. More green fields and sunshine or another tunnel. I think the train is still there. I’m not looking though. Just keeping on running.
I have so many false starts. So many times when I think I’m through it. That I’ve worked it all out in my head and I have a strategy to get better. Then a trigger hits you and back you go, worse this time because you know you had a plan, know you failed again to deliver against it and know its’ going to be tougher next time.
Another tunnel. Running faster now, hard turn after turn. On the edge of control. Like a rollercoaster. Plummeting down at speed and desperately climbing again. The noise is incredible, crashing around my ears. Taking over my senses. Fast, faster. Got to keep ahead of the train. I can feel it on my back. It’s close now.
It always takes a while for others to notice how bad it is. And then everyone wants to talk. And talking is good (sometimes). But just talking it through doesn’t mean instant success. That can leave the friends feeling they have failed because the effect isn’t clear. But it helps, it’s just so gradual, so unpredictable. Talking initially makes it worse. A couple of hours, days even of positive thoughts before plummeting back, often worse than before. I have to keep trying to talk though because at some point, something will click and I will be out and free again. Stronger than before and with experience of reaching tranquillity which will serve me well the next time.
Jogging now alongside a set of railway tracks. There’s a vintage steam train up ahead, steam billowing into the cloudless blue sky. To my left is the sea, to my right open green fields sloping into hills. A bustling coastal village in the distance and suddenly I can see my house. Home. I slow to a walk, secure in the knowledge that I’m going to get home, grab a beer and kick back in the garden. I know I will get there this time, and I know now in my heart that I can always get back to this place again.
It’s vital to go through this with friends and family who believe in you, genuine people who care and want to help. In the end though, the only belief that actually means anything is the belief in yourself. I believe in me. I’m still here. And I know I always will be.