Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color


Rocks tumbling around me, rolling down the steep slope, smashing everything in their path, uprooting trees, pulverizing boulders. Except for one—it stands strong, solid, rocks and stones bouncing off to its sides. An island in the midst of the chaos of the rock slide. I scramble towards it, running, leaping; stones stinging and scraping bare skin, debris renting clothes to shreds.
A few yards short of my goal a fallen rock traps my foot.
Jack had told me that those of us who have been suicidal don’t want to die, “It’s a compulsion that we fight and some of us lose the battle.”
I didn’t remember battling such an urge. I was just deeply depressed; I felt that others would be better off without me, that I’d be a burden. I decided that he must have spoken only for those who have bipolar disorder, not me. I was different.
But then I remembered my own battle.
It was three, maybe four years ago. The despair was overwhelming. I knew that if I surrendered to it, I would become suicidal. I had been suicidal before and I didn’t want to go there again.
I was barely making it through my days, at work, at home, wherever I went. The battle to stay away from the edge was unrelenting and all consuming.
I apologized to Cindy, “I have to be selfish right now. I’m fighting for survival. I’m in a really bad place right now and doing my damnedest to scramble out of it.”
Desperate, I try to pull my foot out from under the rock. I tense my muscles and yank, again and again. A tree trunk misses me by mere inches. A fist sized rock strikes my head, drawing blood.
It was, literally, a battle to the death.
Finally, an eternity later, my foot breaks free at the expense of a sprained ankle, and I continue my way towards safety, now limping, hampered by my ankle. Just as a large rock is about to slam into me, I dive into the shadow of the boulder.
I won that battle.
I increased my dose of meds, and then again. And about a year ago, once more.