[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: https://soundcloud.com/user-231831520/sets/desirable-punishment]
"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.