There’s a parasite feeding upon my soul. It’s a shapeless spectre, a black panther stalking just beyond the reach of the campfire light. I’ve never seen it directly, but I feel it there, watching, waiting.

It has no mind of its own. It survives by co-opting mine, turning my very thoughts against me like some determined usurper, trying to overthrow the regime from within.

This spectre has various weapons and tactics at hand, applied seemingly at random with no clear objective or intent. Its primary arsenal saps the will, devouring mental energy, leaving emptiness where once lived hope. A sustained attack, this continuous bombardment is unstoppable; an artillery barrage, morale its target.

The blitzkrieg is by way of anxiety attacks; waves of panic which arise from nowhere, crashing systems body-wide. It’s best to take cover and wait these attacks out, hoping to retain one’s sanity long enough to regain control. They leave you exhausted, physically, mentally and emotionally, as though you’ve narrowly survived a terror-filled lifetime of nightmares.

As if these weren’t enough, the spectre affects your perception, warping reality until you aren’t sure what is real. Are my emotions real? Do the people who say they do, really care? Does everyone just want a piece of me, interested only in what I can do for them, and dropping me once I’m spent? I know these are the spectre at work, but its continual questioning eventually breaks through, undermining all that you believe and the security you once felt. The result is a crushing loneliness, as though I exist in a parallel reality to those I love.

It seems there’s no quick fix. There’s no course of antibiotics to kill this bug. Surgical removal isn’t an option, because this spectre is everywhere and nowhere, and cannot be targeted for removal.

For now I’m just learning about my enemy. I’m starting to recognise signs of a pending attack. The emptiness to which I awaken is no longer a surprise, as I now expect the spectre’s presence beyond the edge of the campfire light.


2 thoughts on “Spectre

  1. Very well written Lucas! Superb and so true. A wonderfully creative account of ‘brain-pain’.
    An Artist once said, ‘there was pain but there was also creativity’ I haven’t forgotten this.
    Actor & Director Stephen Burkoff visiting a friend in Adelaide 1978 told me ‘I get out there & fight,
    I fight with blood!’. His survival was with creativity but also anger & aggression.
    Mine is to skirt around the problem & to find humour in every silly thing I do.
    In Santorini Gloria went up in a cable car -like everyone else. To avoid this I spent 3/4 hour in blazing hot sun & walked up with the donkeys!
    You obviously write extremely well Lucas. Why not put everything you are into a fictional character & write a fabulous novel!!!!!!!!

    1. Thank you Robin. I’ve no doubt mental illness is the source of great art in all forms. Pain is a powerful muse. As for a work of fiction, I have thought about that, but haven’t yet found an interesting story. Anything I write at the moment is tending toward the morose and the desperate.

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