Lots of people have described depression as being stuck in a pit and I think it’s a useful analogy. I’ll be walking through life quite happily and, suddenly or gradually, I find myself in that dark place. Sometimes I slide and grasp and struggle to stay on the level. And sometimes it’s as though the earth has been pulled out from beneath my feet.
Once in the pit, I look around. Worthlessness is here. Pointlessness is here. Self-loathing is here. Despair is here. Paranoia and psychosis are lurking in the corner. None of them is a friend and I don’t want to stay. How do I get out of here?
I start trying to climb out. I keep busy. I get out into the garden. I cuddle my cat. I remember that like attracts like and feed my mind with the things I want instead of the things I don’t. And maybe I climb out.
But the pit’s too deep and the sides too steep. Maybe there’s nothing to hold onto. I shout for help from friends and family. We talk about the problem and they reach down to try and help me up. And maybe, with their help, I can scramble back to the surface.
Sometimes they can’t reach me. It’s time to call the professionals. The Psychiatrist provides me with the ladder of medication. All I need to do is take each tablet, a step at a time. My Community Psychiatric Nurse is an encouraging voice at the top of the ladder and maybe I can start climbing.
Or maybe by now I’m exhausted and can’t even make it to the first rung. The professionals consult and the Crisis Team are summoned. They climb down into the pit and sit beside me. They help me up. And we climb the ladder together.