Oh yes, “The Pit of Despair” as I call it, is that darkness and lowness you feel when being overrun by the feelings of depression. People always used to say, “There’s light at the end of the tunnel”. Of course that is correct if you are in a tunnel but when depressed it isn’t a tunnel at all, it is a pit. A tunnel is a long enclosed thing generally a lot longer than it is wide and if you keep walking you will eventually get to the other end – and before you get to the end you will see the light from the exit to give you hope and a target to reach.
The pit is not a tunnel – it is deep and it is the same size all round – no matter how much you walk you are trapped inside it and the only thing to do is walk around in circles continually going over the same things you have already been over – passing the same point, hitting the same obstacles and, if you have been in there long enough, wading through your own filth with no hope of ever moving on.
No hope until you stop in the darkness and realise you are going nowhere and start to think laterally (or upwardly as the case may be). Then you realise that maybe (as in the Yazz and the Plastic Population hit in 1988) the only way is up. So you need to sit, think about where you are and be ready for a massive leap of faith – you look up and strain your eyes but it looks the same – dark, nothing and no clear path that you can see. You have no other option – there’s no point in continuing walking around in circles and there is no way to go any lower but it is dark, it is lonely and it is unpleasant – where do you start.
Well the first thing to do is find a wall – the cold, wet, slippery wall that entombs you. You need to feel it, understand that it is not a solid wall enclosing you like a prison cell, it is a mud wall and, being mud, it is pliable, mouldable, able to be dug into. Next you walk around the pit and collect all the bits of advice and support your family and friends have thrown in for you – all that stuff they threw at you to try to help. You know, the stuff you ignored as you walked around in the dark feeling sorry for yourself.
You pile all that stuff up against the wall and climb up as far as you can go but it isn’t high enough. The support from friends and family is now helping you start your escape but it isn’t enough; you need to now start the hard work of climbing. By now the external help and support has probably dried up and there is no more being thrown in at you – it’s up to you to do the hard work yourself now.
You look up, if you are very lucky you might see a slight glimmer of light (much as I do now as the sun begins to rise on another day) but in most cases you still wont see it – you need to get higher. You now sit back on the pile of support, take a few deep breaths and then turn and face the wall.
You scrape away at it, digging a foothold. Only small but enough to hold your weight – this is important because if it isn’t strong enough to do that you will come crashing back down again at any stage. You reach across and scrape another foothold, then a little higher another then another. You have now the base to start to climb but you also need to start to scrape a hand hold, then another and another until you have enough to climb up off the pile of support. You now have to start the climb – with your feet in the footholds and one hand holding on you scrape the next hand hold – it’s difficult and confusing and in the early stages you make the occasional mistake and slip back a little but mostly you don’t fall.
Falling back down is a real danger on the climb – sometimes somebody will throw something at you that knocks you off the wall completely and you plummet back into the depths but, mostly people will see you working hard to climb out the pit and they will pass you more support – allowing you to climb higher. Eventually you see the light, this spurs you on and you start to climb faster and faster – remembering to make sure the foot and hand holds are strong enough.
As you reach the top of the pit, you are bathed in light and you can see all the people around the edge who were throwing you the support, for the first time in ages, you smile, reach up and take the hand of one of the supporters and climb over the rim and back onto solid ground. You walk away from the pit, not looking back at it but knowing it is there and knowing it will be there for a long time yet. It will take a lot of time for the pit to disappear and you are going to have to spend a lot of time and effort making sure you avoid it until it is closed in.
Avoiding the pit is another story and one I shall attack in the future when I am certain I am avoiding mine – I know the bastard is still there and it wont take much to drag me back in…