Ashes to Ashes

The nation is on fire, coastal towns and country villages decimated. Homes, jobs and lives lost to the flames, the disaster is far from over and the aftermath is an unfathomable problem that feels too far in the future to start thinking about.

It’s a hard time to be depressed, it’s also a hard time to be suicidal. All of the reasons we should have to be “bloody grateful your alive and your house is still standing” just fuel the whirling cesspool of guilt for the comparatively privileged life we lead and how “bloody ungrateful” we are for it.

Depression makes a strong case against itself while simultaneously perpetuating its own effects.

I mean honestly, how dare we feel like this?

My thoughts are chastised and scolded incessantly well before there’s any consideration of letting them be uttered aloud.

“Are you seriously whinging right now? Other people have it so much worse and they’re just getting on with it, grow up!”

“Have you just lost everything? No? Then what the Hell do you have to be depressed about?”

“Asking for help for something as trivial as depression right now would be a disgusting, selfish act, other people have real problems!”

“You’re a disgusting, selfish, attention seeking piece of shit!”

“If you’re this weak and pathetic then you should go and kill yourself, do the world a favour.”

They go on and on and the shame penetrates our soul deeper than the thick bushfire smoke that surrounds us. We “should” be able to suck it up, this “should” be our wake up call that life is precious and we are all just ungrateful selfish assholes and we still don’t want to be alive anymore.

But try as we might we can’t control it, we can’t stop it or shut it off or just “be fucking grateful”. We see the images on the television of people who have lost everything rallying together, raising money, sorting out donations, caring for others.

Photographs of wild animals with a look of devastation in their eyes and scorched fur accepting water from the hands of humans they once feared are splashed across newspapers and websites, all the odds are against them yet their survival instinct remains so strong.

That’s what we humans love to see, it’s what gives us hope in hard times – strength in the face of diversity, bravery, resilience. And yet as these images fill me with empathy I cannot feel that hope or gratefulness for life no matter how hard I try.

I see these images and they make me want to dissolve into a puddle of my own shame tears until we somehow drown.

We wish feverishly that we could trade places with any of the people that have perished in these blazes, that we could give them the life back that they respected and loved, the life we so carelessly want to just toss away.

But life doesn’t work like that.

Depression doesn’t work like that.

It’s not an ailment that responds well to logic, like the fire that has devastated our communities, depression is untamed and furious, it has its own agenda, it’s own time line and the ability to fuel itself creating a firestorm that eventually leaves nothing but ashes in its wake.

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