Have you ever seen a dying rose? The stem – the neck of the rose – collapses and even while the rose looks fresh, it slumps until it’s only facing the earth and never the sky any longer. The first rule of depressionland is to never talk about the depression. It’s not that you can’t – many do, It’s simply that the most common response to revealing a tiny new bud of bravery and vulnerability is to tell you to look up. That… that’s what you can’t do.
The second rule is to never look up. It’s not that you don’t want to. It’s that you cannot. The rose’s neck is broken, and looking skyward is impossible. You have to look at your own shoes. You might be able to look at someone else’s, if they manage to get close enough. Most, though, will be caught in the hedge of thorns you’ve thrown up around yourself in self-defence.
The third rule is to keep soldiering on. You slog through the mud, barely able to pick up your feet. You can see the slow movement, and you want, so much, to move faster. It takes time. It takes so very long. Step by step by painful step, you have to just keep moving. If you fall, you get up if only enough to crawl. You can’t stop. There is no quitting, that’s the last rule. No hiding in the shadow of the rose bush waiting to become compost.
Oh, and when you see the tips of the shoes stop in front of you, when you can’t look up? You can take the hand that’s given to help. You might not be able to look up, but you can look down at their hands. Some days, that’s enough. And unlike the rose, you’ll heal. You’ll mend and when you’ve managed to get up and out of the mud you’ll be going uphill, and glimpsing the sunrises and sunsets fleeting past. Then, finally, there will be a day on the peak when you’ll be able to look up, straight up. And perhaps, the next valley won’t be so low.
Time passes. Life goes on. The rules are made to be broken, all but the last one.
My prompt this week came from Padre, with “Hiding in the shadow of the rose bush”
I prompted Leigh Kimmel with an image, “Setting up the camping rocket”
You can see all of the prompt responses at More Odds Than Ends