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Desirable Punishment. Wednesday April 5, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here:]

"Get out, you horrible little fourth years!" would come the stentorian tones of the lordly prefects, as my friends and I huddled around the cast iron radiator in the corridor. "No hanging about at break. Out you go, or it's 200 words on the inside of a ping-pong ball by tomorrow!"

So out we would troop, miserably, into the dank air of the winter grounds. I often wanted to say to the prefects, "I'll willingly write 200 words on the inside of a ping-pong ball, if only you'll let me stay in," but I never had the courage.

But now I can. So – please bear with me, there is a point to this.

White. Or at least I think it's white. I have no terms of reference here. I am trapped inside this sphere with no way out. Oh, I've tried, believe me, I've tried. Sometimes the white is luminous, inescapably bright. Sometimes it is dark. There seems little pattern to it.

Sometimes my prison rocks gently, so I feel sick. Then my world lifts, explodes like a cannon ball, to bounce and be struck and hurled into flight once more. I can only roll into a ball and endure.

When everything goes quiet, I can breathe. I can reach out and touch the walls of my cell; the smooth, white, curving walls, like the inside of an egg. If only they were fragile like an egg. If only I were a chick, growing strong, ready to peck at those walls with my sharp beak, ready to take on whatever is out there.

I long to be free, yet freedom scares me. Inside this continuous, curving white wall I am safe. Even when my shell is battered, even when I am hurt and bruised by the tumult of whatever plays out there, I am safe. It scares me most, that sometimes, I don't want to be free.


Do you recognise that feeling? Sometimes we talk about depression being a black dog. My friends say either that they are taking their black dog for long walks or that it is sitting on them. For me it is sometimes an abyss, a fascinating abyss that invites me to just throw myself in. But sometimes it is that feeling of utter isolation, of being trapped in nothingness, with no communication with the world. A feeling like being inside a ping-pong ball. The world is there, but I can neither see it nor touch it, and it makes no sense.

Sometimes the depression lifts by itself; the walls of the ping-pong ball dissolve like the mist of a summer morning. Sometimes chemicals can melt the white plastic shell, or at least help to make it transparent so I can begin to relate to the world once more.

So, if you're trapped in your own spherical cell, with no way out, then I don't have a magic answer, but, all the other ping-pong balls out there, we know how you feel.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Wendy Wed, Apr 5th 2017 @ 6:41am

I don't use the scores anymore but still always read the posts. I just want to say Mary, you are so good at this. A big thankyou. I really look forward to your posts, you have a real talent!

Tychi's Mum Wed, Apr 5th 2017 @ 12:18pm

I couldn't agree more Wendy. Mary your posts are always brilliantly written and always offer a new perspective. I really enjoy your writing style and look forward to your Wednesday posts. The ping-pong ball is a perfect analogy for the feeling of desolation and seperation I feel when I'm at my lowest ebb. Thank you Mary and love to all of our fellow ping-pongers x

Orangeblossom Wed, Apr 5th 2017 @ 8:00am

Hi Mary thanks for your blog. You provide plenty of food for thought. Also you put a different perspective on a similar situation & an encouragement to take each day as a fresh start.

The librarian Wed, Apr 5th 2017 @ 10:08am

Dear Mary,

I do recognise that feeling - you put it so well.

All the best.

The Gardener Wed, Apr 5th 2017 @ 1:38pm

My prison is not your description of being in a white ball - or, of course, the victim of depression. My prison is actually rather nice, my lovely kitchen, people passing outside, noisy crowd in this morning, market day. But a prison it is - my 'exercise' time is respite - I come into the office, non-stop 'where are you'. My 'ball and chain' is a 'vicious circle' (there's a mixed metaphor for you). Because of Mr G's endless fear, I have designed communicating kitchen/office with sliding doors. He insists they are kept shut. He sits in a comfortable armchair covered in rugs (hence a nun's nickname 'The Pasha'). The radio is on. He calls me, I call back, he can't hear, so he yells. He will NOT get out of his chair to come where he can hear me - hence stupid, maddening frustration - he saw me 1 minute ago, but is now yelling. Question, how do you keep calm under such a barrage/fusillade? That's what it is. But, so many people are trying to make my 'prison' bearable.

Dragonfly Wed, Apr 5th 2017 @ 8:51pm

Beautifully written as always Mary and giving a different, insightful perspective on depression. Today, for the first time in a long, long time I've felt that I just might be ok. I lost myself in a damaging 'friendship' for some years but, today at least, feel that I have enough love in my life; enough inner strength to sfadg chipping away at my ping pong ball x

Dragonfly Wed, Apr 5th 2017 @ 8:53pm

*start chipping away!

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