A full year had past since I last saw him. I forget when we first met though we seem to have been part of each others lives for years.  To be honest, years spent trying to break free of his all consuming grip. Easier said than done, he could be comforting, safe and seem to provide security. As destructive and abusive as it was, at times life with him was less scary than life without. Confronting life alone was unimaginable, he gave strength, but a crippling, debilitating, soul destroying false strength.

It took what seemed an eternity to begin to break free of his hold. I couldn’t recognise him for what he was, or the effect he had on every aspect of my life. The atrophy of everything.

But when I could, it was soon clear he was a shadow looking over me, controlling me and reducing me. I could feel him hold me back, physically feel him attacking my mind. Despite recognising it there was no choice, no option, his hold over me was complete and debilitating. Daily he abused me, made me feel worthless, insignificant, unloved and removed all hope.

Logic would tell me of better times, of a better future, even a better present. Logically I should’ve been able to put him in my past instantly, used my strength to move on and give myself the future I deserved. But logic is not welcome here, it plays no part here and freewill was a charade that didn’t exist.

For a long time I hid him from my friends, my family. From everyone. It seemed embarrassing to admit he existed, let alone that he was a central part of me, abusing me, mocking me, making me feel worthless. How could I admit he existed let alone that I lived with him, took him to work with me, took him to the pub, family get togethers, slept with him, did absolutely everything with him.

He had driven me to drink more, socialise less, take medication, love less, despair more, remove myself from the world, atrophy my friendships, even fear my friends. It became impossible to identify where I ended and he began. He was me and I was him.

Eventually and miraculously I had managed to kick him out and put him in my past. It had been hard and it had been a long road but I was finally able to consign him to history. It seemed an impossibility for an age but confronting him, facing up to the situation and refusing to be ashamed were crucial.

Gone but his impact was not forgotten, yet here he was, back home again after a year away.

Fool. I had let myself not only imagine life without him, I had even dared assume that life would now be free of him. But here he was back on my doorstep. A shadow on the mind. uninvited. Unwanted. Unwelcome. Yet here.

Panic, despair, fear. First day back was shock, couldn’t react, didn’t want to believe it but couldn’t ignore it. No hints or clues of his imminent return or at least none that I heeded. Briefly back to the old habits. Back to hiding from it like a fool, I knew better than that didn’t I?

I was lucky, soon after his return I felt the ability to choose. his pull was weaker and the choice to fight him, live without him was there. A rare commodity with him that I had never truly had before but it was there. Was I stronger or was he weaker. Perhaps I’ll never know.

I’ll always sense him, his presence, his bad habits, his shadow. I fear I’ll never be shot of him but that I can live happily and fully without his influence being a negative. With effort I can even use him as a positive.

As much as he was my worst enemy, he has taught me more about myself, helped me grow, given me a new outlook and appreciation for life. He will return but he will be weaker and I will be ready and he will not control me again.

He is an illness who can strike down anyone he pleases. No reason to be ashamed of him, so many others know his control and influence and most of those who have never known him are wise enough to not judge those who do. Depression is stigmatised by some but no where near as stigmatised as my mind told me it was. Hiding from him strengthened him, but he is a coward who shrinks when confronted. Never fear him, never ignore him and most of all never hide.

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