RavenscroftArt - "Metaphors for Depression" by Lisa L. Owens

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"Metaphors for Depression and the Bipolar Disorders:  Understanding Your Loved One's Condition" a book by Lisa L. Owens

I think it's easier to write a metaphor for what you're dealing with, rather than trying to explain exactly what your mood disorder does to you.  Most of us don't have the vocabulary to describe our own personal situations.  But a metaphor is easy to write. (See the examples below.)  To start out, think: "It's like ..." and go from there. 


I know what I'm asking for is really personal.  I respect your privacy and your vulnerability, especially you who are just learning to cope with your disorder.  Any commentary I make in the book about your metaphor will NEVER put you down, embarass you, ridicule you, or do ANYTHING other than point out the important points about your feelings, and maybe compare yours to someone else's to show how different each person's perceptions are.  I'm not a psychiatrist; just a fellow sufferer. 

About Your Contribution: If you decide to participate, email your contribution.  Please include which disorder you have, or think you might have:  Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Depression or even just "manic depression."  If you don't want me to use your name in the book, put "anon" in the subject line and just don't tell me your name!  If you don't mind my using your name or some other identification, like "Ann W., Idaho" or "jobboy96" or "Memphis, Tennessee", please provide it. I will not share your email address, your emails, or anything else you send me with ANYONE for ANY reason. Other than acknowledging your contribution by replying to your email, the only reason I would contact you is if your contribution gets edited in some way. You must approve any changes to your contribution before it's included. Of course I'll correspond with you if you ask me to.


Please note that not all contributions will be published.


Here are three imaginary emails I wrote to show you what I mean by a metaphor, and to show you how you can write what it means to be sick.  You can write a sentence or two, a paragraph, or a whole page; it's up to you! 


Example #1:


"Dear Lisa,

I have had bipolar II for about 6 months now.  My meds aren't working yet and I'm having a terrible time!  I thought about your question and here's what I came up with.  :  Bipolar II is awful.  It's like being a tennis ball, bouncing from manic to depressed, back and forth all the time.  Please don't print the part about my meds.


Gary B., Billings, Montana"


Example #2:


"Dear Lisa,

I don't know what's wrong with me.  I'm sad all the time.  No, wait, it's worse than being sad.  I feel so bad sometimes I want to kill myself!  I cut myself to feel better.  It's like getting stitches - it hurts but it feels so much better after.

You can print all this if you want to.



Example #3:


Dear Lisa,

It took me a while to write this but it's how I see my myself.  I have depression.  I know it's long but you said that's OK.  Here goes:


Picture this:  you're floating in an inner tube down a beautiful, crystal-clear river.  The sun is warm on your skin, the water pleasantly cool on your backside.  You can see the silver flash of fish in the water around you, an affirmation that pollution hasn't yet reached this pristine setting.  The river here is wide, slow and deep.  You're in control - you paddle about, taking an interest in the things around you.  Life is great.  You have no guilt, no remorse, no sadness.  You're functional, you're taking care of yourself and your responsibilities, and you're having fun, too! 


But soon you feel a faint, bass rumble.  You listen closely but you can't actually hear anything.  You turn your attention back to your surroundings and notice that the river is narrowing and speeding up a little.   Soon you can hear the rumble you felt, and you realize there's whitewater ahead.  You paddle purposefully to the river's edge, only to find there's no place to get out.  The river is now running through a canyon with vertical sides.  Boulders appear, sinister and dark.  You still have control, sort of - you can easily maneuver around these rocky obstacles.  But self-doubt and the beginnings of panic arise.  What if the river gets faster?  What if waterfalls lie ahead?  You're having difficulty planning for them.  You're frightened, and you're sad because, well, you just are.


As the river picks up speed and the canyon deepens, you realize you're losing control.  The river has you in its foaming grip, the rumble has turned to a roar.  You can barely think over the sound, which resembles your heart pounding and the blood rushing through your body.  You are carried over small waterfalls, each increasing your pain, each causing more panic.  You doubt your every decision, every perception.  Life is bleak - having fun seems like someone else's memory.  You know you have completely lost control.


You begin to feel a strange detachment.  It's almost as if you are watching someone else in that tube on that river, facing hurdles they no longer have the skills to negotiate.  Deep down you know it's you, but you don't care.  All you care about is the pain of bouncing off the rocks.  The pain grows and grows, you can't escape it. 


At last you come to the river's end.  You can see that it flows into a huge waterfall.  It's so tall that from your little tube you can see nothing but spray past the edge.  The river flows over the edge of the world into the unknown, and you are in its grip.  Your pain is now roaring more loudly than that waterfall.  You know you're about to die but you don't care.  In fact, you welcome death as a release from the helplessness, apathy and pain.  You're now lost in your own mind, terrified that the roaring and the pain will never end, feeling guilty that you have let yourself down, that you have spent time on this river when you should have been taking care of your responsibilities, remorseful that your kids don't really have a mother, not anymore, and your husband doesn't have a wife, and you haven't got out of bed for three days, you don't remember the last time you ate, or took a bath, and you can't change it, not any of it, no matter how hard you try and it hurts so bad....


Don't use my name or anything, just put me down as anonymous.  Thanks for listening.


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