The Hell Butterfly

Custard

This is both my first blog post written and published on my new phone and my first post at all this month. I should be sitting here thinking about how this may look when I hit publish, if the format will come out okay, or if you my readers will accept my neglect of The Hell Butterfly. Instead, I have been thinking about how depression is like custard.

Depression is like custard. Your brain is like a swimming pool and the water it is filled with is your life. You have to learn to swim in it. As a child you cannot swim,  but you have the in-built knowledge that means you already secretly know how. At first you wear the armbands of Mum and Dad. They keep you afloat until you learn to swim alone, and by then it is second nature.

Then one day you realise you’re getting tired. Your arms and legs don’t work so well anymore. Staying afloat is not so easy. You begin to drown. But then the water begins to drain, replaced from outside by a steady flow of custard. This thick, yellowy substance starts pouring down on top of you. This custard is depression. You know that you must get above it or you’ll be lost forever.

So instinct drives you to get out of the pool. The exertion that it took to lift yourself out with custard raining down on you has all but killed you and now fatigue makes you kneel, sit, lie down. You no longer have the energy to stand up. All you can do is watch the water get overwhelmed by custard. Watch your life be overwhelmed by depression. You are outside of yourself. You are there but you are disconnected from the chaos. The water is draining, draining and you can’t even get up off the floor.

And then the flow of custard stutters. The stream becomes a mere trickle, little bubbles of yellow goo growing and detaching to hit the surface every now and then. You can still see one patch of water in the far corner and you know that if you could just get to it you could turn on the pump and get the water back. You’re so tired, but this is the only way to make everything right again.

But you’re so comfortable down here. You can finally rest. You’ve been swimming so long you never knew how good it felt to just stay still. Be so quiet and so still … Maybe you don’t have to make it to the other side, you think. Maybe you can just stay here and enjoy resting until the pool has finished filling with custard. It will all be over then and you’ll never have to struggle again.

But you know you should get up. You know you have to get up. You must.

So you drag yourself up off the floor, arms shaking from fatigue. You prop one knee up, then the other, and you stand. You’ve been swimming for so long that you don’t think you remember how to walk. The complex act of swimming has replaced your knowledge of walking, the simple act of surviving. Now, with legs trembling in protest, trying desperately to hold your aching frame erect, you take a step towards the poolside. A breath and then you go.

Depression is like custard. You can walk on it so long as you keep moving. Steady steps, balancing your weight so evenly and so calmly. That is how you make it over alive. But when you stop walking, that’s when you begin to sink. Like quicksand the custard will claim your soles and down, down you’ll go. And the deeper you sink, the faster you fall. The deeper you sink, the harder it is to get out.

By standing still, you are doing nothing but falling. If you let yourself give in to the fatigue, give in to the desire to rest eternally, all that awaits you is certain death. But if you keep moving, you will make it, I assure you. You have to force yourself on, push your body and mind to the limit. You have to go on knowing if you make it you must start swimming again, must swim forever. But you must do it.

And you must do it remembering you have to learn to walk before you can swim.

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