Saturday, 3 September 2016

How I survived my darkest days - an ode to Marian Keyes

Today I needed to remind myself of why I write. My writing feels uninspired and meaningless and there are far better uses of my time.

Marian Keyes' books always remind me of the gift, wonder and power of books. In my darkest days of post natal depression I relied on Marian Keyes to drag me through the days. I looked forward to the evening so I could curl up with Marian, read myself to sleep and hope the next day was less torturous.

I love all of Marian's books (first name basis here!) but two books really stuck with me during that period. Every afternoon I forced myself to go for a run with the dog so the endorphins would kick in and drag me through the hell that surrounded me. As I ran, I focussed on the snippets below to reassure myself that I was not alone and that I would eventually emerge from the other side of depression, perhaps battered and bruised but not broken.

From the Mystery of Mercy Close (Keyes, M 2012), Marian's words hit the mark on how I was feeling:

  • Blackness was rising inside me, rolling up from my gut like oily poison, and a heavier outside blackness was compressing me, like I was descending in a lift (p107)
  • I felt so odd in myself, so disconnected from the world, that perhaps it wasn't a good idea to try talking to him. I didn't know how normal I'd be able to be and I didn't want to freak him out (p109)
  • I'm finding it hard to talk to people. I don't really want to be with anyone. But I don't want to be on my own either. I feel weird. Scared weird. The world looks... weird. I don't want to have a shower; I don't care what I wear. Everything feel ominous, like something terrible is going to happen. Sometimes I feel like it already has. (p127)
  • For a moment I was seized with a powerful wish that I'd fall off and bang my head and get bleeding in the brain and be dead before anyone noticed I was missing. (p146)
From The Woman who Stole my Life  (Keyes, M 2014) her words gave me the motivation to keep putting one foot in front of the other until I'd made it out the other side:

  • When you're going through hell, keep going. (p56)
  • Stay alive. Sometimes there's nothing else you can do, but you must do it. (p91)

There were days when I needed these words to find the courage to keep going. 

Revisiting the courage and comfort that I found in these books reminds me of why I write. 

I am not Marian Keyes. I don't delude myself that I have her gift with words. However, by sharing my story and the stories of other strong women, I hope to reach even just one woman and assure her she is not alone.

If you have a way to reach people, do it. You don't know the gift that you might be giving someone tucked away on the other side of the world, just trying to get through the day.

If you by chance are reading the words from the Mystery of Mercy Close and thinking - that's me, that is how I feel, please see a doctor. Please reach out for help. You are not alone.

My sincerest thanks to Marian Keyes for putting her words out into the world, dragging me through my darkest days and giving me the courage to put my own words out into the world.

If you have a book or a hobby that helped you survive depression, please share it with me by leaving a comment below.