Recovering from a bad depressive episode, I was reminded of the Edgar Allan Poe classic ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ and in particular the opening words, which summed up where I was at: “I was sick—sick unto death with that long agony”
That is as about as close to how I felt as anything I’ve read. When those beastly chemicals coalesce to cast me downwards, life’s forward choices would seem like those in the story. Darkness everywhere, and then having escaped the scything blade you the find burning walls shoving you remorselessly toward the pitch black pit.
In the story, he is pulled back from the brink by the hand of a rescuer. And spookily I avoided a similar fate of mine own making. No! – not a fall into the abyss, but something akin to that in terms of its suicidal finality.
I believe the story has its origins in the Spanish Inquisition, a Papal funded ‘witch-hunt’ for want of a better term, aimed at maintaining Catholic hegemony by persecution post the Moors occupation of Spain. And as someone with Bipolar I certainly feel like a non-conformist and persecuted at times.
And don’t they say there are only seven stories in the world and that everyone ever since follows one of them one way or another. And they are, with some paraphrasing by yours truly :-
- Overcoming evil
- Rags to riches
- The search
- Voyage of discovery and return
- Boy meet s girl, loses girl and (maybe) get her back again ( and vice versa)
- The bad guy gets it in the end
- Rebirth and redemption for the basically decent person who has lost their way
That’s my version by the way – but it’s hard to think of any narrative that doesn’t fit closely with one of these templates.
And whilst there are myriad reasons why we can fall into despair, be it chemically driven and/or events that trigger the descent, but when we reach what we perceive to be rock bottom, it’s my belief that the emotions of all at that point are likely to be alarmingly in sync.
And the key to escape? – well I can only speak for myself and it was due to another who cared. And that in itself is uplifting and full of hope, speaking as it does for the overwhelming goodness that exists out there, but that which we can scarcely believe exists when we look into that pit.
Old Edgar knew a thing about torture. Wonder if he was Bipolar?
Kit Johnson – author of Dodging Suicide – A Lifetime’s Preoccupation:
An alternative and affectionate look at coping with Cyclothymia/Bipolar Disorder. Kit Johnson is a successful International businessman, who has had to battle through the condition and wrestle with frequent moments of despair and suicidal thoughts, including two attempts. He sought help through tried and tested channels, took medication and various therapies – all to no avail. He discovered that humour and home spun philosophies saved him from the worst excesses of his condition. This semi autobiographical account is funny, excoriating, honest and thought provoking.
@2013 Kit Johnson