What the fuck do you do when you find yourself in the middle of the ocean, alone on a raft, with nothing but the twin terrors of the tumultuous sea and sky for company? What do you do when you’re lost, with no direction, no plan, no hope? You’ve screamed your lungs out but nobody has came to save you. You’ve clung desperately to the raft as storms rage about you, battering you, drenching you, seeking to break your will. You’ve stared into the depths of the water as the storm passes, as the sunlight returns to mock your pitiful existence.
You’ve stared into that blue abyss for as long as you could, fighting the urge just to let yourself slide off the raft and be embraced by oblivion. It has to be better than the constant fear, the constant doubt, the never-ending sense of isolation from everything and everyone you know.
Letting yourself sink down into the darkness, well that has to be better than living any more. A clean break from the struggle. No more storms, no more terror, simply peace…and then fading away into nothingness.
That’s how it feels, to me at least, to be alive, to endure reality. It’s a constant fight, a lonely fight, against things that seem as powerful as nature itself. Nearly every day feels like a struggle to get up from that raft and look about for a way home, a way to some sort of sanctuary. It takes every ounce of determination I have left to not fade away, to not let the world go on without me.
And even on those days where you find yourself shedding the gloom, tearing off the misery and replacing it with hope, there’s a voice in the back of your head – your voice – and it won’t leave you alone.
“Why bother?” it’ll utter, quietly. “Why bother trying? You know you’re just going to fail, right? You know you’re out here alone, nobody is coming to save you. Nobody even cares that you’re out here. Nobody would even care if you let yourself slide into the darkness. Aren’t you just a pathetic piece of shite?”
You can’t escape yourself, no matter how hard you try. Being battered by crippling feelings of isolation and depression means you aren’t ready to tell that self-doubt to fuck off. You don’t have the energy, or the willpower.
“And what if that voice is right?” chips in another of the voices inside your head. The voice that’s supposed to keep you searching the horizon for hope, for land, for people. The voice that’s meant to kick you in the baws and get you moving when all you want to do is go into hibernation. That voice, it turns on you as well. It echoes your doubts, amplifies them.
So there you are, alone, on a raft, in the middle of the ocean without a hope of being rescued. And all you have for company is yourself. Of all the things you can escape in the world, your own mind isn’t one of them. It’s there, dogging your heels like a deathly spectre. Haunting you, stealing every positive, warm thought or idea and leaving nothing but icy misery in its wake.
And god forbid you happen to be a creative bastard. Hell mend you if you aspire to make anything – write, draw, film, sing, play – because you don’t stand a chance against this unrelenting misery.
The good days, the idea days, the days where you believe someone would actually bother to pay attention to whatever nonsense you’re making, well they get squashed and squashed fast. Optimism flees. Creativity withers. And those fleeting moments of happiness get drowned in this sea of anxiety and helplessness. “Why would anyone want to see anything that YOU make? The fuck do you think you are, Picasso or something? No, you’re just an idiot. Someone too stupid to see their own limitations. You’re worthless, so give it up.
And then comes the helpers:
“You no tried to shake yourself out of it?”
The outside voices the rare times you let the mask slip. Those well-meaning but utterly useless people who think in terms of broken legs, cuts, scraps and visible signs of illness. Those people who can’t see, or understand, that you’re trapped within your own fucking skull and no amount of meaningless platitudes can mend you – you’ve told them all to yourself, after all, countless times.
Each day’s a constant fight just to rise and face the world. Reality bites and bites down hard. Every night a constant state of fear as you dread laying your head down on that pillow because as soon as you do, as soon as you close your eyes, every fear and worry you have comes riding towards you like a cavalry charge.
And there’s you, cowering beneath the seemingly never-ending hooves of your doubts. Like a child, unable to move, unable to so much as cry out because who the fuck is going to listen?
These days and nights do pass though, as much as you keep telling yourself they won’t. But they aren’t gone for long and as soon as you find yourself back home safe, away from the raft out in the middle of the ocean, that’s when the voices creep up on you once more.
“You do know you’re wasting your time, right? Why the fuck would anyone want to waste time on anything you do?”