Flowers and Shadows
At the outset I would like to state that this is not a comparison but an acknowledgement. No two griefs are comparable. They cannot be placed on weighing scales to ascertain which one sits heavier on someone’s chest.
The awareness of mental health conditions is much wide spread than ever before. Today, while extending my sympathy and empathy for every person fighting depression, I would like to dedicate this piece to all the people who are a support person for someone facing depression. For their selfless dedication, incredible determination and beautiful acceptance.
Being a support person for someone with a mental health condition must feel like a journey through a blur. A support person forgets to live from day to day and begins surviving from episode to episode. The clocks in the house remain stationary with dead batteries in them. As if they too understand the irrelevance of time. A support blows out, with eager breaths, candles that bring light to their lives because the person they love only knows how to survive in darkness. And then one day the realisation hits that just love is not going to be enough.
While the person with a mental health condition begins to dig all the graves in the graveyard of his/her mind to ensure that they find themselves in one of them, a support person stands in the corner holding a bunch of flowers in his/her hands. Flowers as an acknowledgement of the weight of death on their loved one’s mind and flowers also as a significance of hope – that life is still beautiful.
Life isn’t about dealing with the cards or lemons given to you. Pills become a reality of it – of different shapes, sizes and colours. And the support people try to suck out the bitterness and only hand over the blandness of reality to the person they are taking care of. Implausible as it may sound, this is what it feels like. And how do you aid someone to swallow this pill of reality?
Perhaps it is a challenge for the minds like mine to comprehend what it must be to watch a part of your heart trying to tighten a rope around itself and you are given a double-edged razor to cut it. In every possibility of cutting the rope, of being a saviour, you have to bleed. This is no longer about choices but about the only choice you have.
Life becomes like disappearing moments, moments that neither have a past nor a future but are born and die in the same instance. The three-dimensional life turns into a one-dimensional existence – that of intersecting lines of the person with mental health condition and of the support person. Depression at one end of these lines and something unknown at the other end. Every step in this journey becomes a destination to celebrate survival. There are no simple roads but just deep oceans that drown you or formidable peaks with exit signs.
To all those support people out there, I know that the people you are helping to heal may not be able to express their gratitude at times, rather many a times. But please accept this as an acknowledgement of their and our thankfulness which may have escaped until now to take the shape of words. While depression and the depressed have become the subject matter of poetry and other forms of art, please know that you are that shapeless dream in the shadows that makes it all possible.