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Depression is a dark, cold place. There is no R.S.V.P – there are no guests. Often, when not looking, it’s like a dagger stabbing itself guilt-free inside your rib-cage in an attempt to bleed you out; emptying every organ until you are dry, left suffocating in a gloop-like shit can of shit soup.

I’m not depressed, at least not by conventional determination and I hate labels because they are too definite and not definitive enough. Labels are ways for others to understand what is happening to those around them but the truth is no one person can truly understand the extent to which another suffers or indeed survives. It’s the hopeful crescent of a wave, the accomplished peak of a mountain – the lightless belly of a boa. Depression is the label I will not label myself with because it’s ever evolving, seldom the same -- often coated in the sugar-laden arteries of a fat man. Only that’s kind of what it is. I don’t know what it is. Labels can fuck off.

**
Lizzie dripping rolled up her tattered skirt to the thigh and pulled a knife from inside her stocking top. One hand reached to her side, tapping at the floor, with only a failing glimpse from the moon to skim the curve of an equally tattered, old chest whose lid clung from rusted hinges. The gentle pings of reflected bronze light coming from inside the chest went unnoticed as Lizzie’s outstretched hand fumbled all the way to its bottom until she heard the familiar chink. One full bottle left. One hour til sunrise.

“Horseshit. Still, it’ll do for now.” Snatching the bottle she forced it between her salt-licked knees, clamping its neck like a chicken waiting to be wrung and cut the cork from the rum bottle –slicing its neck clean off.

“Ah, breakfast is served!” She glugged hard and then again until only a drop remained, gasping for breath and retching when her tongue protested at such a violent intrusion. She fell back against the tall, wooden beam rising from the floor, its dirty-white sail slapping it from behind and out of sync with the waves which began to lap loudly against the hull of ‘Ol’ Slippery’. The crate Lizzie was sitting on sagged noisily, fracturing, as it began to give way now that her legs no longer supported her stupor. It wasn’t long before Lizzie passed out amongst a pile of rum-splattered splinters. This was not a good time to lay unconscious. It was coming and it would show her no mercy.

**


Even in the snarling face of affliction life can prove to be unexpected, it can also be cruel, but every now and then it can prove to be full of wonder, changing our life-paths entirely and showing us new horizons that never graced any map.

The clouds which have followed me throughout life so far were not of my choosing – the blame lay in a deep crevice, one which had monsters hiding beneath its surface. And although they tainted what should have been a carefree and brilliant existence, smiles and joy, love and trust have always walked side by side – keeping those monsters at bay. I consider myself lucky, grateful for the lessons brought to me by the biting jaws of adversity, it’s made me strong, and, the greyness which never fully disappears has given me a grounding which I believe has given me a compassion I may not have found otherwise.

I guess if you want to be in charge of the clouds you have to find a way of keeping them separate so they don’t swamp you, at a far enough distance so they don’t engulf you, but of course each and every one of us is unique and we deal with such matters quite differently. 

Being swallowed by a storm does not mean you are less, but I am glad I have never succumbed in full. Swimming against the tide can be a very forsaken place and then there is drowning – the darkest place of all.


I count my blessings, all of them -- and my ability to swim.

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