A Place Beyond Despair – How Love Can Save A Life


Each footstep is muted, I feel as if I am walking on wet cotton wool.

My vision is tunnelled; a kind of reversed cataracts that makes all in my periphery blurred and unattainable.

Slowly and surely I am walking into the realms of unfeeling, a place beyond despair.

The brain can only take so much before it tranquilises itself and after so much distress the release from feeling carries an unconscious menace.

Murder, suicide and oblivion all seem possible here and none are unpleasant to contemplate.

The scariest part of this desolate place is I am not scared of it and I know I should be.

This is no drunken abandonment either; self-pity and self-loathing do not exist here, there isn’t enough awareness for that

Nor is it a place of violence, this is pure non-possession.

I am one of the fortunate few here, I have those that love me and my brain, in a bid for survival, starts to throw these voices into my consciousness causing tiny grenades to explode in my gut.

A deep yearning becomes lodged in my throat and stomach where the most profound feelings inhabit and swell at times like these. Soon I am laden with guilt, as an unforgiving gravity tethers me to my pain and I’m overwhelmed. This is a good sign, only the dead do not feel.

When a person suffers serious burns, the wounds have to be cleaned, it is then that the pain becomes excruciating. The return trip from this place is the time to clean these wounds. It’s a pain that is profound enough to make me vomit.

“What does not kill me only makes me stronger” said the German philosopher with a fondness for horses but every second spent in this place does not toughen a person and can often inspire PTSD in its visitors.

This is no place for tourists, those that visit do not take holiday snaps or tell anecdotal tales to fashion sympathy. Us catastronaughts can spot a tourist as easily as any resident can. To us they stand out like the Japanese couple taking pictures of everything and nothing and we resent it deeply. It isn’t because we define ourselves by it or feel it ours in anyway, we just find no glory in the experience.

This place beyond despair may only exist in an individual’s mind but it is a common experience for those that have been here. It is as real to us as any virtual world and far more emotive.

There still exists a spiteful ignorance around the subject of mental illness; too many people’s opinions seem to sway from fear to disdain. Depression is not a very sexy look and on the surface appears as little more than someone having a bad day that deep down is quite enjoying wallowing in it. For this reason it can inspire impatience and resentment.

We are very aware that being around us at these times can be difficult, guilt is one of our biggest enemies, but I assure you we are trying to escape this place and having loved ones at one’s side can be the difference between life and death for some.

Depression is possibly the only illness that can be cured by love and patience, the power to heal is a wonderful feeling. Those that suffer with depression are often people who love intensely so the chances are you will be paid back with interest when we return.

© Copyright Dean Stephenson 2014

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