Depression and Cliff Anatomy

Depression is sort of like spending all day, every day, climbing a cliffside… If you get a cramp or reach for the wrong spot, you slide down the wall of the cliff, and if you’re lucky, your rope catches you and you dangle. You just keep dangling, blind from fear, while your mind and body recover from the panic of the fall. Eventually, little by little, you feel strong enough to pull yourself upright, then to put your hands and feet back on the wall, until finally, slowly, you start climbing again. Now, of course, if you’re not so lucky, your rope doesn’t catch you, and you’re smashed at the bottom of the cliff. I guess you need to have a good rope.
For me, the idea of reaching the top of our cliff is not, and cannot (really) be a goal. If I got to the top, I could fall off again, and I can’t bear the energy it takes to even imagine that climb – not after finally having caught a glimpse of the view from the top. See, I have too much despair to aim for things that can cause despair. That’s probably just good sense. So, for me, there are two goals – to keep track of my rope, and to climb.
Rock climbing is supposed to be one of those activities that makes people happy. There’s “flow” with rock climbing. It’s something people do for the sake of doing it, and it’s hard, but people do it because they can. Maybe I’ve found hope that I will find “flow” as I climb, and that the higher I get, the stronger I’ll get, and the more I’ll hope to get to the top. Even if I never get to the top, I want the hope that I will.

Photograph by Shelby Kelley


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