Category Archives: Mental Health

The other side of the glass

Describing disconnection and depression is hard to do.  In my head it felt like a large pane of glass between me and the world.  The glass was thick and in any other context might be considered beautiful and even a work of art.

From your side of the glass it was barely visible.  Most people would never notice it was there because to them it was only a thin film that comes and goes flittering like a butterfly when the light is just right.

From my side of the glass it was thick and solid it feels like clear steel that is impossible to break through. The thickness varies so that somedays I could hear and see rather well and others I was in total silence no matter how loud I screamed.

I could see you and the others that I loved. I could see life happening around me but it was at a distance. I was never all the way there, with you in the sunlight.  The sun warmed me through the glass the way it does in a greenhouse.  The light could be soft, warm, and comforting or it could be hot, and stifling, and everywhere yet nowhere all at once. It was never directly on my skin in a way that is satisfying and nourishing to my bones.

For years, I had been looking for a door.  Searching for a crack in the glass or a seam in the construction that might hint as to how to dismantle the divide.  It had been there so long it was hard to remember if I was born behind it, or if it arrived one day, or if it grew slowly until it got so thick I could no longer get back to the other side.

None of those explanations are helpful in finding a way out of the prison that held me so invisibly.

There were days when I was strong and angry.  On those days I’d rage and scream and pound and kick at the glass.  No one seemed to see when I would do this.  I could be in a crowded room, screaming myself hoarse and to the world outside it was only silence.  Maddening is what those days felt like.  I have raged until my body was bruised and bloody so many times I had lost count and yet, the glass remained.

I hated that glass with a passion you can only know if it holds you too.

On the other side of the hate was sadness so deep it can stretch to the bone. When the tantrum ass over and my body aches and the blood ceased to flow from the fresh wounds I would sit in stillness.  These are the days when the darkness settled.  It came when the tears and the ache flowed freely until I sobbed so hard my stomach hurt and the tears filled a pool of anguish from my soul at the separation that was both foreign and powerful.

From that shadow it was easy to stray into the territory that questions why I am alive, and flirts with the ease with which I could let the darkness envelop me fully. When I am there I know all too well, that from that place, I would never come back.

I am lucky to have had threads and breadcrumbs and a lifeline to follow back out of the night.  Smiles, a flower, an animal, an e-mail, a call to say hello have all been the thread back.

I am grateful.

On the good days when the sun was warm and wrapped me up I could wander and play in the silence and find joy in the journey.  Those days the hurt faded and I felt the grass on my toes and I would smell the leaves growing in the greenhouse inside which I called home. The ceiling iwa clear and I saw the blue sky dotted with clouds and that day the rain didn’t reach me as it fell. I knew I would be okay.

Those days I dreamt big dreams and I stored up my reserves to once again set out in search of the door. My heartbeat in my chest provided the resolve to not give up and I promised the me that lived in the surface reflections and danced in freedom on the outside that I will continue to live.

I make little reminders and pack them in my bag so that when the clouds come and the darkness returns I will find the thread and make my way home.

It worked.

One day something changed.  On that day I looked over and saw a small hole in the glass.  It was barely visible but I could feel it with my fingers and I could smell the air that floated in from the other side and the feel of that breeze the touched my skin was everything.

As I was sitting, eyes closed, focused on this new sensation a new person walked up and said hello.

At this point in my journey I have had a lot of half conversations through the glass.  I have screamed and mumbled and tried to be clear but that glass always garbled the message and half the meaning was always lost.

I am tired of pretending and saying the things that I thought would make them stay, and today I decide to stop.  I spoke the truth to this new person. Why not?  They likely couldn’t hear me anyway.  Except this time, through this tiny hole I was heard clearly, and the voice of my friend was easy for me to understand.

This miracle was the fuel I needed to get up each day and return to the tiny hole in the glass. I keep talking and listening and being more real and more raw and honest with anyone, than I ever have in my life.

I keep talking and my friend stayed with me.  I say anything and everything and I was so terribly honest about who I was and what I wanted.  Slowly, so slowly I realized that my tiny hole was expanding. The honesty was opening the space between here and there until one day I could reach through and touch my friend.   The human contact was the best thing I had felt in so long.  It is what my soul had longed for and is also fully overwhelmed after being isolated for many years.

My friend talks with me until one day, when I had stopped paying attention the door appeared.  Just as I had hoped, and dreamed, and prayed for, the door was available.

I didn’t know what to do at first.  In my mind I should run across the field and whoop for joy, never looking back.  When I first stood in the doorway I was nervous.  I had only really seen it from the other side and suddenly it doesn’t seem safe.

My friend was there and now I know why. We had talked so much and knew each other so well, sharing all our hopes and dreams and fears and foibles. Fierce honestly had been the creation of this freedom.

It was time to trust the bond and I took their hand and stepped through to my new home.

People, support, love, connection and hope are all the things that had sustained me and are now available each day.

When I allowed myself to be seen and heard as I truly was I regained my humanity, and my strength.  When I gave that same gift to another I gained a friend and in the process the glass wall disappeared.

Now only one question remains.

What do you want to do now?