9 Reasons To Live

I have just survived some dark days.

Dark enough to swallow you whole.

I had been emotionally beaten up for weeks, day after day. I was caught in a situation from which there was no immediate escape. Malice and maltreatment spun me around uncontrollably, I was caught in a tornado of pain.

Dark isn’t dark enough to encapsulate this feeling. I had to look up synonyms to find any word to try and give voice to this abyss. Homer gets close to giving expression to life in the abyss:

– from Homer’s Odyssey, trans. George Chapman (Book XI)

When I am in this space, I do NOT want, I repeat, I do NOT want to breathe slowly, do yoga, listen to soothing music, drink herbal tea or burn essential oils. I can barely pray unless screaming at God counts. I know these things are good, I know they can help.

But unless you have been in this space, you cannot understand – to do these things is simply impossible. I will do some these things later but first I have to loosen the boa constrictor of rage and hopelessness.

There is a multitude of reasons you fall in this pit: grief, parenting a mentally ill child, chemical imbalance, heart break, cruel rejection, legal threats or disease.

People say they know what you feel, they offer simplistic solutions, like giving an aspirin for a brain tumor. So you stop talking to anyone.

When I reach this deep, dark place, there is a little thought that buzzes around in my head, “It would be better if I didn’t exist”. I would not say I am suicidal, but I know I am dying inside slowly. I know if I let that thought stay and grow, make camp in my head, I am doomed.

I have fought off this demon enough times before to know it’s a deception from hell. It is a lie. Lies can cut you into pieces.

Somehow I fight back. Grace. I guess.

I fight using these 9 reasons to live:

  1. Loud angry music: In this last bout I started a play list on Spotify called “pissed off”. It includes Black Betty and Bad reputation. I listen to it loud. I feel like I have friends in that moment. Yes, I know, I said a naughty un-Christian word but trust me I say a LOT worse to God when I’m like this and he hasn’t hit me with lightening yet. In fact, I find he just patiently sits with me.
  2. Hide in bed watching old movies: Something that makes you cry is good e.g. Beaches, The Way We Were, Steel Magnolias. Or something that takes you far away e.g. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre.
  3. My dog: This is especially good when I can’t sleep, she just sits close, I can feel her soft fur, I can feel her heart beat and that soothes me. I can’t seem to offend her. During the day I can rave and rant to her, use obscene language, say horrific things and she listens without judgement (and probably with no understanding, but I don’t mind). She doesn’t try to fix me, promises not to tell anyone what I said and then she licks me.
  4. A hug: From anyone really, as long as they are good at hugs. My husband is a good height, my head can fit into his shoulder. NO TALKING, seriously, absolutely no talking, just a hug 8 seconds minimum. Ugly, snot-dripping crying is encouraged.
  5. Banging things: Saucepans are good. It needs to last about 10 seconds. It scares the family away to give that much needed space. I believe this relieves the build up of the stress hormone, cortisol, in my body. I think it is a primitive version of EFT Tapping (yes, it’s a real thing- google it!) but more fun, more wild hence more satisfying, and less bloody nice.
  6. Plan to run away: I don’t have to actually do this but simply fantasizing about my ultimate runaway adventure helps. Currently, I am running away to an isolated beach shack on the coast of South Australia. The shack has many books and a fireplace. I will wander up and down the beach collecting shells and stare wistfully at the waves. I will have no problems and my mind will be blissfully empty. I will eat crab, drink wine at sunset sitting on a chair on the sand wrapped up in woolen scarves and a hobo’s coat.
  7. Work out: This takes a bit of grit to get up and go. I tell myself, “Do not give yourself the option Elissa- just go!”. Then when I’m there I listen to my “pissed off” playlist and go hard until it hurts. I can feel hurting and that’s good because it means I can still feel. It’s a bit like when Forrest Gump just ran and ran after Jenny died, smart is as smart does. On really bad days this is too much so go to number 2 and 3.
    8. The ocean: A loud, crashing, angry ocean. Go there or at least think about it.
    9. Driving: This comes with strict conditions. Do not drive when extremely angry or suicidal. But going for a long drive in country helps, I can pretend I am running away. Plus in this recent bout, a fast truck came at me a bit close and I thought, “Crap, I really want to live”.

Once I’ve crawled into some light, I can focus clearly on the beautiful, on life enriching reasons to live.

An amazing reason to be alive; to smell lilac!
  1. God’s love.
  2. family.
  3. lilac
  4. Cello Suite No. 1 in G major by Bach
  5. laughing until you pee a little and snort a lot
  6. singing ABBA with friends
  7. walking on the beach
  8. live jazz while drinking really smooth red wine
  9. cats on you tube

Clawing your way out of the dark is hard. Once I get out, I can get proactive at finding better, long term solutions. This time I took off to Byron Bay by myself for two nights. I took my Bible, walked on the beach, watched people surf. God showed up. He is like that. So faithful, it awes me every single freakin’ time. I talked, I read, He talked, I listened, I came back strong.

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along” Psalm 40:1-2.

I captured sunrise at Byron bay on video to share with you xx

P.S If you are feeling depressed or suicidal please see your doctor or ring Life Line 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636.

If you are in abusive relationship call 1800 737 732 .

By Elissa Macpherson

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