Today I’m going to write about an experience that terrifies me. I have no idea how common an experience it it; how many people suffer from it, how often they get it… but I know that when it happens to me it scares the living hell out of me. So, in the theme of “not alone in there” I’m going to describe it as best I can, in the hopes that just knowing that someone else out there has felt the same will be enough to help.
I’ve tried a lot of ways of describing how it feels to be in a deep depression, none of which are quite right, but all of which get some of the feeling across. One of those descriptions is “It’s like your imagination has stopped working. You can’t imagine anything else, anything that’s not there right now. If you’re alone then you can logically know that you won’t always be alone, but you can’t imagine not being alone. You can’t believe it. It’s just not there for you.”
So that’s a deep moment of depression, and it’s big and it’s bad and it’s scary. But sometimes, rarely, I get something even worse. (Please excuse the meanderings… it’s actually pretty scary just trying to type this up.)
Sometimes I feel lost, and alone, and dizzy, and all the sounds around me are too much, and all the people are too many, and I just want to close my eyes and make the world go away. And sometimes I close my eyes, and it does.
It never scares me at the time. Everything is too much for me, so I close my eyes and the world vanishes. I don’t feel the walls. The dizzyness continues, but I’m not afraid of falling over, even if I was standing when I closed my eyes, because there’s nowhere to fall to. The noises don’t fade… if anything, they get louder… but they merge and meld and turn into this mutter of noise and voices that’s everywhere. The noise seems to reach out beyond wherever I am (or was) and reinforces the idea that there are no walls or limits anymore. The noise spreads out forever, and it’s not all pressing around me anymore.
When this happens I feel like I could stand forever. I feel calm. Just me.
Then something happens to snap me out of it. It could just be someone gently calling my name. It could be something touching off me. Whatever it is, however gentle it is, it snaps me back with a nauseating suddeness. The sounds roar back in around me, and suddenly I’m enclosed by walls that weren’t there a moment ago. Suddenly there’s up, and down, and sensation. Sometimes I scream.
And once I’m out of it, it terrifies me. Especially when I feel that way still. Especially when I know that if I let it happen again it would, and the whole world would fade away again, and I’d be alone to think clearly without all the people and worries and demands getting in the way. And every time I close my eyes, I can feel the slight vertigo of losing all my references, all my ups and downs, and it’s terrifying, because this time I know it’s coming, and I don’t want to go.
It passes. It always passes.
I’ll spend hours being afraid to close my eyes, and wanting someone near me so that at least I’ll know that if I fall into that darkness again someone will notice, and I won’t be left there forever. Even though the sensible bit of me knows that it would never be forever, and that something will wake me up, even if just hunger or plain old falling asleep, and then it’ll pass again and I’ll be fine. But logic doesn’t really cut it in these situations. It dulls the fear, but it doesn’t make it go away.
But time will make it go away. Both of them, the fear and the darkness.
I don’t know what more to say here. I try to tell people how to deal with things like this, but for this one I don’t know.
I guess that having people you can trust around is a great help. Having them just be there. Even having them on the other end of the phone, if they can’t be there in person. And, as always, trying to let them know what’s wrong is always helpful. I know it’s hard, but any attempt to get across to them just how bad this is will help them to understand why you need them. Last time this happened to me I got out the wonderfully helpful “I’m scared to close my eyes in case there’s nothing there”. It didn’t help them understand what I was going through, but at least it was enough to make them realise that there actually was something wrong. I wasn’t just being tired and needy!
And I suppose, the last thing I can think of that will be any help:
You are not alone. There are other people who have felt this. There are other people who have got through it. And so can you.