First Published on December 50
“We are indeed drifting into the arena of the unwell.”
Withnail & I
This blog entry was originally about the depression that had been tormenting me. I have experienced depression before, but never one triggered by a neurological event. I am strangely aware of the affliction in this instance, I can observe it from outside of myself, before being drawn back into the experience itself. When I am outside of myself I am not me, I am a facsimile of me. When I am inside the experience of anxiety and depression I am myself once more, but a damaged version. I am living in a murky world of post concussion symptoms, medication side effects and boredom. The neuroses and fears that are all a part of me are rearing up from the depths, un-impinged by my normal executive function.
Another enemy of mine is guilt. I have now been off work for several weeks, I do not have the right temperament to give my family the attention that they so richly deserve from me, and I find that I crave solitude as an escape from the daily anxiety. Even writing this blog is, I sometimes feel, an act of sanctimony and self indulgence. However, it is my life raft.
I am alone in the doldrums. The mast of the Dinghy stands naked in the simmering blue green of all that surrounds me. I sleep on the narrow deck underneath a rough tarpaulin and dream of diving deep into the whispering waves. I do not recollect how I came to be here. I have some memory of faces and voices calling, shouts from the shore falling into my wake as I sailed away. I see images of sails on the horizon, and I watch them intently. I control their movement with my gaze and as they move farther away I allow my eyes to blink them from existence and feel the pang of sadness that one would feel when saying good bye for a final time. I have long dismissed them as apparitions; illusions of sun and sea and doldrum life, they are of no use to me here.
Every night I dream of empty spaces waiting to be filled, I dive deep amongst the shadows and lose myself in an enveloping murk which brings strange comfort to my isolation. Down here there is no sound, no light nor dark, all is moving shadow and formless creatures swimming in from distant tides. In this underworld of deep green I sense the encroachment of serpents, sea daemons and dragons; they move in the shadows with certainty and perfect alignment with the viscose brine. Silently they guard the entrances to caves where I fear greater perils lie dormant, waiting for the inexpert waggling of a human form – waiting for me.
I am vulnerable in this place. I am nought but what I am: fragile and terrified of the harsh truths that surround me like a sullen sea; where there is no breeze to carry me back home. Diving deeper still I swallow my fear and venture forth towards the nearest cave, it’s mouth a haunting aperture ready to swallow me whole and digest me; into the the bowels of an ancient world where human dreams have no rightful place.
I wish I was back on the deck of my Dinghy, pulling in a hook line of small sardines. Then the wind would spring up from the south east and I would rig the sail and set off for the horizon to rejoin those distant apparitions which I now believe to be real. I wish I was skipping the surf in my little boat, my hand firm on the tiller as we fly home. The breeze blowing on my face and smiling against the sun and sky and excited at the prospect of family and friends and stories and good food that I can taste. I dream inside my dreams adrift in the doldrums, anchored to nothing.
In the cave I swim deeper and deeper, the rock walls are razor sharp and I panic as they close in around me with the narrowing of the passage. Plumes of deep seaweed slide across my face and slither along my back, I feel the tail flick of smaller fish as they dart around in the blackness. From secret cracks in the cave walls boney legs protrude, pockmarked with calcified parasites; who knows what monstrosities reside inside those narrow recesses. But all thoughts of those spindly crabbly beasts subside as I sense a larger presence.
Down here in the freezing isolation of ancient water there is a beast which sits silent in the current. It’s face is black and leathery with bulbous eyes that pierce the gloom. Its massive jaws are lined with boney ridges in place of teeth that look as though they would tear through bare rock. behind its quivering gills, a sleek and muscular body stretches away to an arrow sharp tail. I halt my descent and stare into the face of the beast.
“You are lost in world of which you know nothing about.” The voice is in my mind, the voice is my mind. The giant fish shifts to one side and in the deepest parts of the cave I see a bluish light. “You have only just begun.” I do not answer, I do not know how, but I look down past the black body of the fish and I am hypnotised by the shimmering blue illumination. A beckoning siren call to venture farther in.