Home > Opinion > From Black to White – Experiencing the ‘Black Hole’

From Black to White – Experiencing the ‘Black Hole’

Janet Jones knows depression as a darkness. She is on a journey into wholeness and wellbeing along with her church congregation, Christ’s other travelling companions! Each has their own need and often need the support of others in that need.

Black is not the absence of colour; black is formed when all colour and light is held and none is released. This is of course the opposite of white which is formed when all light and colour is reflected back.

During the darkest times of the soul and spirit, colour and light, love and joy are all absorbed, held and devoured. It seems impossible at these times to release or reflect back any thing.

Yet the more light and colour, love and joy are trapped, the greater the hunger for more, until the hunger becomes a ravenous, insatiable beast-like addiction, taking control of soul and spirit and devouring all with in reach. It can become parasitic and devour the host.

Maybe this beast could be likened to a black hole where all light and matter are sucked into the centre. The more light and matter the black hole absorbs, the more powerful it becomes, increasing in gravitational force in proportion to the amount of substance it has devoured. Yet the black hole also sucks itself into its own centre exerting enormous pressures onto its own matter.

During the darkest times of the soul and spirit, this feeling of internal pressure can be overwhelming, inescapable. This can present as a feeling of physical as well as psychological and spiritual pressure. This can produce very real physical symptoms such as nausea, poor sleep patterns, extreme restlessness and agitation or the opposite of each of these, such as excessive eating or a paralysing inability to act or make any decisions including the decision to get out of bed and eat each day.

It is at these times that the sufferer might think of ways to release the pressure including self harm.

What about the Carer?

All this makes caring for a person experiencing these dark times very difficult. It can seem that the more time and effort that is devoted and the more the carer gives of themselves, the more the sufferer demands.

The sufferer may be desperate to feel better but is unable to achieve that for themselves. They become dependant on others expecting those close to them to induce a feeling of wellbeing for them.

The sufferer is often not aware that they are making unreasonable demands. When they feel their needs are not being met, they can lash out angrily and vindictively against those people who are closest to them. The carer is, of course, very hurt and can believe they are being rejected and are unappreciated or their safety is threatened. Yet if they withdraw their support, the sufferer can experience a deep sense of loss, which has the capacity to greatly aggravate their condition.

The best a carer can offer is unconditional love, but unless the carer is superhuman or indeed a saint this can be extremely difficult. The carer needs to set boundaries that they know they are able to keep with a reasonable degree of consistency.

It is the consistency that is important because sufferers can find it very difficult to cope with changes of any type, especially if these changes relate to their care and support in any way. It is not unusual for carers to find themselves feeling highly pressured and will themselves need to find a strong support network of friends, family and/or professionals to enable them to simply survive.

If the carer ‘goes under’ the sufferer can feel that all is lost and take this situation very personally. Many carers will find they also develop symptoms of illness that are a direct result of caring for a sufferer. A sufferer in despair can drag others down too.

‘God with Skin On’

This is where the church has the opportunity to be ‘God with skin on’. When someone is suffering deeply, feeling cut off and alone, the church can ‘hold the Christ light’ for the sufferer, being a strength that the sufferer cannot find at that time.

The challenge for the congregation as the Body of Christ is to love and support unconditionally, to uphold one another in prayer continuously, and to listen with the ears of our hearts and souls at any time we are called to this service.

In times of despair, we do not need others to give us their solutions, to tell us other stories of greater despair, or to judge and condemn our difficulties and our actions. We need empathy, compassion and support shown through listening, through prayer and through practical actions.

Sometimes the best action is to simply stand back and allow others the space to grieve as they suffer, but to be ready to provide a cup of coffee or a box of tissues if needed. When the Body of Christ steps forward to show the compassion of Christ, we do it selflessly without thought of gratitude. The sufferer can often be unappreciative and even unaware of the love and support surrounding them.

The Body of Christ as the Christ light for others.

When someone in despair can no longer find love or God, they need to be surrounded by the love of God in the Body of Christ as we reflect back to them the love of God. We become the Christ light to illuminate the darkness, the Christ light that brings sight to the blind, warmth to the frozen soul, and life to the lifeless spirit.

The Body of Christ is called to be as strong as steel and as soft as cotton wool; unyielding in the consistency of its support and yet soft and tender in its compassion. This is the sacred calling;.

“I will hold the Christ Light for you, in the night time of your fear; I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.” (Together in Song 650)