The Hunt

I’ve battled depression and suicidal thoughts for years. I’m closer to 40 than I am to 30, and for over half of those years I’ve struggled with this. I’m finally seeking help — I’ve “sort of” saught help before, but this time I’m going all in. I’m tired of “sort of” coping, “sort of” handling life… I’m going for help. I’m getting treatment from my doc. I’m gonna push him to help me find a good psychiatrist. Anyway…. As part of my own therapy, I’ve started writing. Some of it’s batshit crazy stuff. Some of it is detached. It doesn’t matter what or why I’m writing, as long as it gets the crap out of my head and heart and helps me find release. And I’m rambling.

OK, so here is a short story — sort of a fantasy/adventure tale based on my struggle with depression. I don’t know who will see this. I hope — I really hope it finds its way to someone who feels like they’re facing this beast alone. You’re not. There are a lot of us out there, slapping on a smiling face as we crumble inside. You’re not alone. Believe me. Anyway, below is the story.

There’s a beast out there. A monster, some would even call it a demon. I’ve seen it in my dreams, and it haunts my subconscious. Although it is a solitary creature, it can often be found in the company of its cohort, Anxiety. It’s name? Depression. It will try to masquerade as anything else to keep its victim deceived as to its true identity…

I’ve been in its lair as one of it’s victims. I don’t know when it came into my life — when it started stealing my happiness, my joy, my drive — and at times — my will to live. It comes and goes as it pleases, each time staying a little longer. Each time it leaves me weaker — more susceptible to it’s calls. Each time — I find myself closer to the brink of its true lair — the pit of death itself.

It’s not an ugly creature as most people would think. It’s no picture of beauty and grace either, but not as disgusting as some of the monsters that plague people’s lives.

It’s size is hard to grasp — at times it can appear about the size of a small dog that nips at your heels when you turn your back. Other times seems much much larger, stronger, vicious. It’s somewhat of a shape-shifter, sometimes walking on all 4 legs. Other times — as it gets stronger — it stands on 2 legs and uses its front legs to hold you back. As I’ve seen it, it’s head is very blocky, wi somewhat in shape like a grizzly bear, but with a wolf-like snout. It has horns, or spikes on its head, similar to a Triceratops. Its body is covered with larger plates of armor-scales, like an armadillo. It does have a strong tail, tipped with a small, poisonous barb. Most times it just drags behind, but it can be used to beat and weaken its victim, the barb to inject the first lies and deception. It’s scales are a dark, almost dingy charcoal gray, that flash iridescent purple under the right light. The edges of all it’s scales, large and small, are also ringed in purple. It’s eyes, oh it’s eyes… dark red. Crimson. Filled with hate, anger, bitterness. Malice like you’ve never seen, and blazing with the fires of hell itself. And its voice — the voice of pure hatred, once unmasked is the harshest sound imaginable. Wails of the dead, immersed in malice, dripping lies, and coated with a sweet sticky syrup — which if not on your guard, sounds like your own logical thoughts using your own voice.

And lately, even though I’m its prey, I’m also it’s hunter. I’m seeking to vanquish it, subdue it, destroy it and banish it from my life if possible. And it — it is seeking to capture me forever. To slowly torture my mind, harden my spirit, absolutely corrupt me with it’s lies, anger, and bitterness until I die. How I die matters little to this beast — as long as I die alone, and hopeless. If I die from natural causes, so be it. If I die by my own hand — so much the better.

Its lair — oh its lair. A hundred gates in a thousand walls. Impossibly high, or so they seem — yet not so high as to be insurmountable. Topped with spikes, broken glass, and other ways of slicing yourself to ribbons should you mount them. Yet not impossible — with care, you can thread your way around the barbs and razor sharp edges. Below, gates made of oak timbers, thick and heavy, mounted on rusty iron hinges, and plated in steel. Yet not impossible to break. They have weakness in their core. As with many things — appearances deceive. The gates appear much thicker and more solid than they actually are. The walls — although to the eye they are high, it is an illusion — a trick of the eye. And within — more deception, more trickery. All designed to keep its victims confined within, to silence their cries, to drain their hope of rescue. For that is this keep’s weakness. Rescue is possible — but it requires external help, external resources. Nothing to be found within can be fashioned into tool of escape. Nothing within can assist in a true breakout. Any escape, again, is illusion. Freedom, if gained on your own, is short-lived. Depression has merely let you go free, to gain your strength back, merely in order to become more of a challenging toy, a plaything to be amused by.

And yet, I hunt this beast. From within the lair, I seek the beast. I seek the lizard. I know it’s scent — it’s intermingled with my own. I know its steps, its gait — I hear it echo in my own footfalls. I recognize its hissing, almost sulfurous breath — I’ve been enveloped in its choking fog countless times. I know that ultimately, if the stories are true, he and I will be bitter enemies as long as I draw breath. I know that I can never truly be victorious over him. Yet I must seek him while I have strength. No, even in my weakness, each breath is a sliver of hope. Hope that I can track his steps, trace his footprints, and follow his trail. Because in time, he and I will battle. He and I will come face to face. A battle not only of will, but of might and power. A battle that must be fought sooner or later — to prove who has the victory. Ultimately — a test of wills, wits, and courage. If he wins, I will die — likely in his lair, suffocated in his many poisonous pits. And if I win — he knows he has lost full grip on me. His talons, although they may grasp at me they will scratch, and not puncture. They will squeeze but not crush. They will no longer have their old strength over my life

And yet, even then, holding that victory will be a lifetime of battle. Of constant vigilance, constant watch for his attacks. Being ever aware that even though through battle he has been defeated, his hate is so pure that the attacks will not cease… they will continue. The lies will continue.

And as I walk, I cry out. I scream until my throat is raw. I beg for mercy, for light, for hope. I know that if I don’t, my own voice will turn against me. It will poison my thoughts and slowly silence my cries — I’ve been victimized by my own voice already — I know how treacherous it can be, even to me. I beg for the Warrior to come — to send help — to send someone, anyone — if nothing else to ease the burden and illusion of loneliness.

And though few have heard my plight, yet I’m still ashamed of being within this dungeon. I know there are others here too, trapped in the endless and countless passageways and rooms. Occasionally I hear a sob of despair, or a cry of utter sadness. Each time, the sound raises goosebumps on my flesh. I’m chilled at the thought I’m not alone — and horrified others may be suffering the same fate as- if not worse than — myself. I vow, again, to return if at all possible, and rescue any that I might find. I vow, again, to battle alongside any I find strong enough to stand. I swear to myself to share what little hope I have, should I stumble across another. Yet, the illusion, the drifting mists, the shifting hallways make finding others impossible — merely random chance encounter, if one could call it that, is behind any hope. Yet not all want to have hope, not all are ready to stand, much less fight. Some, most heart-rending of all, believe this is their fate, their token, that they have somehow earned this. That this is their lot, their wage in this life. They refuse to stand, to fight, to open their heavily-lidded eyes to the few grains of hope I have. Instead, they seem me as another threat, another enemy to fight off — the burden of those souls weigh heavy on me, another burden amongst the lies Depression has wrapped me in. They’ve been so enveloped in the chains of Depression that they have lost any desire to continue — but instead have chosen to give up — and are just waiting for their ultimate end.

So every step I take is a journey. Aimless wandering, in the sense I don’t know my destination, yet purposeful. I don’t have a specific point in mind — but as I walk, I look for signs. Am I stalking the beast, or is he stalking me? Am I strategically learning his ways, his lies, his deceptions, or is it just another layer of falsehood to enslave me even more? I know, deep within my core, that I have to — I absolutely must — face him this time. Running is no longer an option, I’ve become too wise to his ways to know that running is no victory. I’m not strong enough in my will, my spirit, my physical body to withstand a fight — yet I know the more I seek, the more I study his ways, he grows weaker, smaller, like the spark lit within me is a malaise to his power. No longer do I believe I must rest to let the spark grow — this time, the spark grows as I delve his underground castle, as I cut through lies.

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