Escape from the dragon of darkness

The black dragon leaves you paralysed, powerless. It creeps into your life and haunts behind you – so you’re not even sure it’s really there. At first you merely sense some presence, a shadow. Your vision is edged with fuzziness. Lights seem whiter than normal, music sears. Then gently, gently it unfurls its dark wings. And in its acrid embrace, the world itself starts to dissolve. 

Steel and lead cannot create a wound such as this. It is like your insides have been torn out. Physical. An icy curdling in your stomach, which trickles to the extremities. It is numbness and pain at once, thudding, stubbing, creeping, to parts of your body which don’t have nerves, and feelings which you never knew existed. Despair. Despair and dread. Time slows down and stretches before you, endless, inescapable. Uncontrollable. 

The worst is the loneliness. Loneliness because every friend has turned to wood. Kind words and strong hugs become a terrible irony, jeering at the fact that you are totally alone. No-one will ever feel your agony, no-one will ever touch your soul. You don’t have a soul anyway, just charred paper, the remains of some numbered ticket which was stamped at your birth and will be stamped again when you die. Eternal separation, perhaps other people don’t even exist at all. You crave their company, then immediately want to leave and be alone. Alone in neuron-splitting isolation. 

But the inaction is the most destructive, and flurps you downwards like dirty water through a plughole. Because you have lost control of the cavity that was your body. Brushing your teeth, moving the empty noodle-wrapper from the floor, sending a text – this alone would sap the last breath of life from you. You horde your remaining energy like a lost polar explorer, huckled down to make it  last until the helicopter arrives. But it never does. Writing an essay, going to the bank – impossible. Best to lie in bed, in the darkness, to try to forget and slip out of this world – or best of all, dreamless sleep.

It can persist for weeks and months and wreck your plans with a nihilistic venom that cares neither for friends, nor family, nor future. You don’t even care or realise that your social life and education is being destroyed before your eyes. It is pointless anyway. Everything is pointless. Life, especially.

Or it comes and goes in mad swings, completely beyond your control. You wake feeling fine, then over breakfast are struck by a concrete wrecking-ball which knocks the breath out of you. You physically fall to your knees, everything inside is broken and in screaming pain. An hour later it’s gone. You skip and sing in the delirium of one who has rediscovered the joy of existence. But it’s still there, inside, a dragon’s claw which pierces your stomach and throbs, and then slowly spreads out again, poison blotches your vision purple.

In the evening it roars. You start to cry, softly and first, but soon you are sobbing so hard you fear you will lose your insides. You cry and cry and cry and cry, pounding the wall and cursing it, cursing it, why me, why me? Why this? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be normal? Why this oh no oh no go away ohh owwww. No, rage, despair, hopelessness, horrible horrible terror and wanting to die and crying and howling and fighting back, locking horns with the dragon and staring it in the eye, pushing your forehead against its and curling your lip. Fuck off! Leave me alone. An emotional fight leaves you exhausted, totally drained, calming down, calmed down, its gone… its still there but its gone. You have never seen your face this red, your mouth pulled down like a napalm-victim running. Wipe away the snot and tears, breath deeply. Numb – yes still numb. Numb and lonely and despairing. But the physical torment is gone. You can sleep.

That’s the worst and it rarely gets that bad. Sometimes you don’t notice it for days on end. But the dragon is always there. You can’t tell your friends about it – they’ll think your nuts. Half of them don’t even believe in dragons in the first place. Weak. Typical overdramatic selfobsessed nonsense. Attention-seeker, drama-queen. Freak. Not that they’ve ever said that, but that’s what they must be thinking, inside. How they must despise you. Better to stay alone. 

For months your cruise along just about alright, with the occasional bump. A couple of weeks of numbness, a few days of yoyoing. Two dreadful months. Looking back, how much of your life seems rotten, wasted, worthless. Dead flesh killed by the dragon. Everything about you is dispicable  – then the next day you wake up and you love life.

The thing is, this description is not very accurate. Because when the dragon’s there you can’t imagine life without him. But when he’s gone, you can never quite remember what he’s like. And for over a month now, he’s been gone. There is happiness and sadness, anger and fun, self-love and self-hate, irritation and ecstacy. But the dragon has not been seen of. Once or twice a stone in the stomach. But otherwise just the shadow of his memory, and the fear of his return.

But it occurred to me today, that I haven’t been without him for this long, since I was 17. Since when I had no clue what he was, or how to fight him. Even during the happiest times – at school in Norway, working in Edinburgh during the festival, Kunming – the dragon has always been there, poking over my shoulder. I wrote in January that if there is one thing I could change about my life, it would be for him to go away. And it seems he has… for now…

And when he comes back, I’m going to fekking smash his head in. *touches the biggest pile of wood you have ever seen*

 

Note: its estimated that between 10-30% of people suffer “low moods” in their lifetime. Famous people include J.K. Rowling, Neil Lennon, Jim Carrey, Winston Churchill, Princess Diana.

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6 Responses to “Escape from the dragon of darkness”

  1. Dick Says:

    so how horrid for you and good that it remains at bay……

    These suggestions won’t help but should make you smile.

    Riddikulus

    Pronunciation: rih-DIH-ku-lus
    Description: A spell used when fighting a Black Dragon of dispair “Riddikulus” forces the BDOD to take the appearance of an object upon which the caster is concentrating. When used correctly this will be a humorous form.

    + lots of chocolate,
    + writing a blog

  2. Howard Says:

    I wonder if taking these bad vibrations and shaping them into your black dragon gives them strength or makes them weaker. It does give you a tangible demon whose head you can smash in, but what if also turns a mildly bad day into Black Dragon day, since that’s a schema you’re cursed to be familiar with?

    If I were a chauvinist, I might suggest that all you need is a White Knight in Shining Armor to slay it once and for all, but it’ll probably turn out that the black dragon was hiding inside the armor all along. Deep, I know.

  3. elliepant Says:

    Thanks for the suggestions, Dick 🙂 (its actually funny that starting this blog has roughly coincided with its temporary disappearnce).

    Howard, I’m aware that rereading it does sound bit like a scene from a science fiction novel, and you’re right that trying to personify it has certain dangers, especially for those with an overactive imagination.

    On the other hand, one of the very problems is the inangibility and lack of understanding about what is happening. Which is part of what makes it so scary and difficult to deal with. Some people talk about a “black dog” which follows them everywhere… and a dragon is an equally poor substitute for trying to explain what it really is. But the idea of giving it a concrete guise, is that it makes it easier to fight systematically.

    It took me a long time (several years) to work out roughly what was going on, and how to try and deal with it. Now I have at least some idea. When in its depths, I’m expending a lot of mental energy trying to convince myself that it is something tangible, eg the dragon. Its sortof a trick to focus on how to fight it practically. A lot can be done to help pull yourself out of the worst levels of darkness, but persuading yourself that it is worthwhile or you have any modicum of control at all is the hardest task.

    Fighting a dragon is supposed to be romantic, real, and exciting. As you say, it’s a task for knights in shining armour. The key is, that YOU are the knight. No-one can slay your dragon for you. But if there’s no dragon either, there’s no knight, and dealing with the darkness is a much more thankless task.

    Wow my head is hurting from all this fantasy nonsense. I think I need to go and add up some rows of economic indicator statistics, drink some water, and not try to walk through walls. :p

  4. Nicky Bolland Says:

    Speaking dragon tongue: Thank you for speaking the unspeakable Ellie.

    Face still stinging, tears finally drying, you describe the way it unfolded, what mediocre and quite irrelevant incident catapulted you into the depths of intense fear and breathlessness, and you sound silly. You sound really silly – you know it sounds silly and even if they won’t say it, they think it sounds silly. But at the other side of the silliness, is the unspeakable… your dragon. Nothing summoned him, no-one invited him. He was here already…quiet and unspeakable. Then he got loud: loud and unspeakable. There is no causal explanation, no plot-line to tell how he got here.
    And yet you must speak him: you must conjure up some plausible explanation for your sudden gasping, your uncontrollable weeping, your somewhat disproportionate reaction to the 3rd episode of ‘Gavin and Stacey’. What do you speak of then? How do you narrate a life with dragons?

    I narrate the physical – tangible and believable:
    The dragon marks my chest: a deep wound, there for days, weeks before his full weight joins me, and for days, weeks after his attack. Tight and enduring…the only sharp point situated within the dull numbness.
    Without a narrative, an explanation for you or for me, my head opts for denial: burying itself in the sand of work and other people (safety in numbers) after the attack. Covering the dragon’s tracks and walking quietly away from the scene of the crime. But the body is not so accommodating. My chest continues screaming. Outraged, resentful and unwilling to go back to business as usual, unwilling to let you forget what your dragon did.

    Maybe it was just for today…maybe just to remind you he’s with you. Maybe he’ll be quiet again tomorrow. But his loudness as brief as it might have been, was enough to remind you that you are still one of them: still crazy: you are still one of those girls that lives with dragons (amongst a world of people who don’t even believe in them).

    My dragon doesn’t come around too often anymore either. I am not a girl who lives with dragons, just a girl who occasionally receives visits. Now that he doesn’t live here, I can live with all sorts of other things: with hope, with passion, with people, and perhaps some day soon I will invite love to stay a while. These things are far better living companions: they let me sleep at night and they don’t make nearly as much mess
    …and perhaps it is because he doesn’t live here anymore, that speaking that unspeakable dragon finally becomes a little easier.

    good luck keeping the dragon out of the house 🙂

  5. Oscar Lied Says:

    Thanks for calling it a black dragon. A very good and adequate description.

    Your excellent account inspired me to share a little on my own, though not as well-put, detailed or intelligently written as your words.

    I was troubled by the dragon before, non-stop for long periods of time, to the point of wishing death, or less extreme but more frequent: during daytime only looking forward to the peace of sleep and the accompanying isolation in my own bed. Nobody understood me either at that time. Surely noone did. Or at least that was what I was very convinced of.

    It is a long time ago (or at least feels like it), but I still don’t like to think about it. What is nicer to think about is how it changed, and what a great improvement it has been and still very much is (and it’s still improving btw).

    I don’t think I need to write too much about the experience (I’ve probably told you about it before and it’s kind of personal, even for me). But I’d like to say that the change began in the summer of 2004, in direct relation to me really accepting the Lord into my life. Although I “believed” before this as well, this was when faith suddenly got very real. He told me not to be afraid, and that He is always with me. And I got serious about trying. Even though, as you know well, I have stumbled many times since then, the dragons haven’t come back.

    This is one of of my own very personal reasons for sustaining my faith. The Lord helps me.

    I’m not trying to imply anything. But I was inspired to share.

    Lastly I just wanted to say that it’s really brave of you to write this. And that I hope the dragons stay away 🙂

  6. the visitor | A view from the bridge Says:

    […] https://elliepant.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/escape-from-the-dragon-of-darkness/ […]

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