Falling in and out of the darkness

By Sarah Hollingsworth

At that moment, everything is fine. Her brain is ordered and calm. Thoughts are running at an average speed. Circumstances whilst not perfect are the same as they were yesterday, probably the same as they will be tomorrow. Nothing has changed.

But then, without warning, without invitation, the long bony pale finger slowly pokes its way into her brain. She feels it start to creep in. She tries to move back, to head it off. It’s futile. It’s started its way in. The switch is going to be pushed. The calm, ordered brain is turning fuzzy, messy, unordered.

Suddenly everything is effort. Will she be able to hide it this time? The fake smile is trying to work, the jolly laugh preparing itself to go on show. Her brain is screaming, fuzzy. Her body is begging to lie down. Please, just let me hide, a duvet, a corner, anywhere to make me invisible. Will anyone miss her? Will they notice if she creeps off? Disappears for a while (forever)? She tells herself it will pass. To hang in there, to not cause pain to those around her. It will pass.

What if it doesn’t? What if this is the one? What if this is the time she is lost in the pit and can’t climb out? What if those around her who love her don’t continue to love her this time? She knows she will hurt those who love her, she will reject them, push them away. She knows she will be silent, unable to articulate what’s happening in her head. She doesn’t know what’s happening in her head. She knows the pain. What if she goes too far this time, and they reject her? She can’t help it. She tries to walk it off. Maybe a visit to the sea will ease it this time. It does some times. Maybe a long, long drive on the motorway will chase it away. Maybe she can outdrive it. Worth a go, surely?

It does pass. Eventually. It’s all fine. She feels good. Her brain is back to ordered and calm. She thinks maybe this time she’s cracked it. This time it won’t come back. But wait. What was it that person said to her? That innocent statement that person said, that at the time meant nothing? Those few words, that little statement. Why has she just remembered them? Why hasn’t it been forgotten? Why did they have to say that to her? Why couldn’t they have used their words more cautiously? She knows of course the intent was not unkind. But still, why? What did they really mean? Why did they say it like that? Then? At that time. Why? Why? The sentence runs round and around her head. Over and over and over. Covering every inch of her brain. Every millimetre covered, blacked out, until that’s all that is in her head. The sentence, the why. Until it’s all covered. What now?

How does she rid her brain of this, how does she relieve her brain of the question? She has to let it out. She has to ask. Why? Why did you say this? What did you mean? She’s spread the blackness. It’s on her loved one now. It hasn’t helped her at all. It doesn’t resolve it. Now they both have the question on them. Her brain is covered; he has a spot on him. It’s like the gunk in Cat in the Hat. It just spreads, it increases. What was meant to be resolved is now on her, on him, on the curtains, on the walls. What is the solution? It certainly won’t be sleep; that isn’t going to happen now. Time. Time is the only way …

Again. It does pass. She breathes a little. She dares to imagine a world where she doesn’t live with this. Could it happen? She is grateful for a good day. She’ll start with that.

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