Dark thoughts

Hokusai: The Great Wave off Kanagawa. Source: http://blackburnmuseum.org.uk

Depression is like dark water seeping into the crevices of my brain. It drips into the small cracks and faultlines, widening and deepening them through a process of erosion. I shake it out and think I’m free for a moment, an hour, a day, but the liquid is just taking its time to settle elsewhere, sometimes almost without my noticing. It always finds the lowest point. Oh you’re here now?

It can be an evil sea, a cruelly happy tide rushing into a familiar harbour, finding those same rocks and outcrops to smash against like welcoming arms. Wearing them a little lower, a little smoother, offering less resistance.

The waves crash and buffet old and new defences. Some sea walls have crumbled with age and a lack of use, thinking they were no longer required. The viscous, vicious tide smacks into them, immediately finding holes, flowing right through to whet old fears and replenish ancient anxieties.

There are some barriers more recently constructed that I thought were strong. But the dark water finds chinks or merely surges up and over. I should have made them higher, better, stronger. I was an arrogant fool to build them at all.

Some shores it hits are bad habits. It almost feels like a relief to bathe in them once again, to have the bubbling tide race over and across them, caressing them, reinvigorating. The comfort of familiarity, even if in its wrongness. I know this, I have experienced it before, let me just enjoy it for a while before I have to stop again…

A king tide comes, deceitful in its slow buildup. Those gentle waves, at first almost a reassurance – I expected this – suddenly become overwhelming. I’m trapped by the water, I can barely see back to land. My boat is so old, it’s an effort to even think about sailing it. And I’m sure it leaks. I consider swimming but the water: I’m afraid of it. Afraid of its violence, its killing cold, the unfathomable menacing power (which also fascinates). I’m afraid of the effort. I’m scared of drowning. I don’t want to start swimming unless I can be sure I’ll succeed. And what if the tide is still rising?

It’s a trickster, a manipulator, an arch procrastinator. Endless distractions, a monkey splashing in the shallows. It doesn’t want me to sit still, it doesn’t want to be solved. Moments of beauty, boredom, terror, interest, never the main game. Or is it? What is that sunny green field so far yonder but a Fool’s Paradise? Surely the Real World lies in the intelligent complexities, the excitement and the drama of my dark waves? See the truth! The water of life! The drowning stuff! It erodes while it builds, weeping the rocks away to form the stalactites and stalagmites of new structures. Oh it’s clever.

Then when it has gone: how absurd! There was no oily liquid darkness here. What pretty rocks the receding tide exposes, the few small, inky pools left behind just provide important contrast… no lessons? Just a new stretch of terrain to explore.


  1. This is a beautiful /scary/ accurate glimpse of the black dog. I hate to hear of you feeling like that. I hope the writing helped. Miss you. Xx

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