It was difficult for many reasons to write 'Black Blood', not least because I had to take myself back to that deep, dark, painful time of depression and self-hatred - a place I remember so vividly, even though I don't live there now. Perhaps the difficulties are worth it if they help just one person who reads this to understand a little more about si and the confusing experience it is with it's dreadful emotional pain and the conflicts that battle inside...
Wrapped up in the dark, trapped in the night and bound by a constricting sheath. I need to breathe. I need to break out of my prison. I need to know that I’m still alive. I am completely numb, yet I am also entirely filled with pain – the pain of my soul being murdered; murdered by depression. I need to know that I have some life inside me and I need to feel something other than the intangible death of my spirit. I need to break free from myself ... unleash myself from the binding of my skin ... cut myself free.
My mind whirls into an almost drunken calm. I know I will do this. I know I don’t want to, I know that I need to, I know I do want to, and I feel the jittery excitement of expectation.
I finger the flimsy blade gently, caressing it with both love and hatred. I have freed it from its plastic casing and now it is my saviour and my downfall. It has potential to pacify the monstrous depression and save me from certain death – suicide – but it could equally well kill me entirely ... if I choose; if it chooses ... if it catches the wrong thing; the right thing. Which will it be tonight?
The lamplight isolates me in the darkness of the night – a spotlight on my anticipated activity – and then momentarily glints back at me from the grey metal, like a single eye winking encouragement: ‘Come on. You know you need me.’ Evil. Enticing. Exciting. Energising.
The coil inside me frets.
The tension threatens to strangle me and I tighten my grip; fingers turning white, ghostly in the halo of light from beside me, confirming something of my deadness. I look down at the pale, clean canvas of my arm and I hate it. I see the blue-black blood in the surface veins, assisting the transport of the poison that is in it – undetectable by any analysis, but there nonetheless, feeding the beast of depression. I need it out of me.
The coil winds further.
With an uncertain tenderness I place the cold slither of razor blade onto my arm and let it rest on my skin. The sharp edge tantalises the nerve endings, making them prickle with anticipation. They dread it. They adore it. There is an indentation, but the weapon does not yet break through the suffocating membrane. I am waiting.
I am waiting.
The night envelopes me.
I am waiting.
I am alone in the dark; alone with depression; alone with an all-consuming detestation of myself. Then with a fury that explodes like a silent volcano I press down hard, I pull back my hand, and I swipe at my skin. I rip into it like a savage battling through the undergrowth hunting its prey. I will not give up the quest. Layer after layer, through taut, white skin; through yellow jelly fat; through strings of veins; past tense cords of tendons, and I feel nothing. I continue my search – there must be life hidden somewhere in the dark corners of my being. Somewhere. I slash my way through the jungle of myself until at last I see the purity of bone – a white angel that smiles at me through the gape in my arm. It has caught me before I have killed myself. It has saved me from myself. It weeps blood and the tears form rivers down my arm and onto the tissues I’d arranged as a comfortable pillow for my limb before the massacre had begun.
And then I feel the pain.
It is a shock.
It is a relief.
Now I cry from my eyes as well as my arm, both in silence, both in the dark. Full of hatred. Full of calm. I am alive. I do exist – the physical pain tells me so.
I watch the blood-well in my arm. It fills and it spills, and what has been poisonous is now pure – the black blood having turned red as soon as it hit the air. My body has taken a breath through my grinning skin and I am relaxing. Calm is descending. The hunt is over and the beast is slain. Red rivers show my tracks, and slowly they too begin to ease up, no longer desperately trying to escape the confines of the deathly, tight shroud that shackles me to myself. It thickens. It oozes. It creeps. It stops. It sticks to me, reminding me that although it is now free it is still a part of me. I despise it. I love it. I wipe it from me, easing it off my skin with the tear-damp tissues I’d held to my face. I mother myself and I tend to the wounds of the injured child before me – this limb that feels detached from me, yet is a part of me. I weep for it; I weep for myself; but I rejoice because I have proved that something of me still lives, even though I had to slice through the repugnant wrapping that engulfs me to find it.
I sit with the remnants of the beast strewn around me.
I come back to myself more fully.
I re-enter the world, although still in darkness.
Now that I know that I exist I realise that however much motherly love I give myself I cannot repair the damage I have done. But I also cannot afford to beat myself up about having done it ... I have already done the beating. No, now what I must do is prepare another soft pillow, this time of padded bandage, in which to tenderly wrap the damaged arm with its trapped angel smiling from within. Now I must brace myself for a battering of scorn, resentment and abhorrence for my self-loathing act of destruction ... of survival ... from medics at the hospital. They will hate me as much as I hate myself, and their hatred will feed the beast, refuelling its energy and resurrecting it from its resting place.