Bleak (52)

It comes in waves. No, that’s not strictly true. It is always there but sometimes less distinct. You could take something for it, he says. And I think about it for a moment. No, I don’t want to. It frustrates him a little I think, my refusal to seek medical help. It’s what he does after all. But we are different. I know this. I know its nuances, what it asks of me, what it feels like. Taking an anti-depressant would be an unknown for me. Besides, I can cope, I can manage, I can live with this, this bleakness. It is a grey screen, a cloud through which potential joy, a sense of safety, peace and calmness are seen through. Has it always been there? I remember this endless chorus of ‘lighten up’ or ‘don’t take life so seriously’ or just ‘smile’ playing out throughout my life. Have I always been a little melancholic? And yet, I know¬† myself to be able to experience real joy in the smallest of things. I try to find reasons for it – the menopause, the darkness, not getting enough sleep, getting up in the dark, it could be all of these or none. It just has to be lived out – the tight back, the shortened breath and the endless fretting over timings – seen as something I have chosen rather than it being visited on me. Where is the wisdom in it? Can I seek that out? Work soon but coffee with him first. A treat. And then a reading day today.

They must be cold, sleeping out there on the Prom. They are sheltered from the rain – one in the Shelter, the other in that space under the castle – but not the wind. Can you ever get warm?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.