I see myself kneeling on the floor, crying. One arm rested on my leg. The other one trembling. I have a razor blade in my right hand. I imagine myself cutting. But I could not. I see myself taking a scissor. It is blunt. I am unable to cut myself properly. It only leaves little marks and scratches behind. But it hurts. It leaves a burning and stinging pain behind. I see myself sobbing and shaking all over.
This image I see whenever the shadow behind me passes by. This image arises whenever I feel like I disappointed everyone and foremost myself. This image comes to my mind when I have the feeling that life is not worth living.
Having suffered from a depression and a burnout I experienced bad times – really bad times. However, this period of life ended almost three years ago. I could stop seeing my psychiatrist and stop taking my medication. I was happy again. And I am certain that I mastered this dark phase quite well and that I am now in a much better place.
However, having suffered from a mental illness has some effects that will carry on in the future. Although it is not present in my life as it was, things like depression will always be to some extent a part of your life. Mostly in a sad moment or when things are not going the way they should, the feeling of depression comes. It is an awful emotion. And it makes my life much more difficult than it already is. I call this feeling my shadow, because whenever it is present it feels like a shadow behind engulfed me. It is frightening because you are unable to see a way out in that very moment. This shadow is also a constant reminder that I once suffered from a depression at some point of my life. But how can you escape this smothering shadow? There is one effective advice that was given me during therapy. But believe me, it is by far harder and challenging to implement it. I was told to see this shadow as my dark passenger who was just riding with me, but there is a big space between us. And whenever it comes closer you have to picture this dark passenger and tell yourself that he is just beside you but will not come any closer. The main idea behind this method is that you name your fears and symbolise them as a person, an animal or an object. I see that it should help you to distinguish your feelings arising from the depression and differ them from your positive thoughts. This separating of emotions can help you to understand your reactions better and moreover, it allows you to dissociate yourself from the depression.
For me, this method works to some extent because I then can personify my bad thoughts and distance myself from the evil feelings arisen by it. Seeing your depression as a shadow may also help because a shadow itself is not harmless. It is just there but will not damage you.
It is very difficult to conquer a depression and takes a lot of courage, time and love from trusted persons like friends and family. Finally defeating a mental illness is an immense step of which one can be greatly proud of. But it also takes a lot of strengths not to relapse. The battle goes on but with every day you beat the shadow you will feel stronger, happier and satisfied.
However, I have no idea for how long this dark passenger will be following me. But I am confident that someday I will disengage myself from the shadow.
All the best and take care,