For Suicide Prevention Month: A Caterpillar’s Bible

“Is this depression?” Eva wondered as her body inched forward. She had to drag every ounce across the wooden walkway that felt rough under her feet and seemed to go on forever. Dark shadows above her seemed to swoop and sway menacingly. She wanted to disappear, but she was also starving. Hunger was the only thing that willed her to go on. This hunger guided her like an invisible sign pointing the way or a silent urging call. She turned slowly down a more narrow path, still on scratchy wood, still rough on her feet.

She saw something thin and flat waving in the wind, like paper. It was green. When she strained her neck, she could see hundreds of these pages floating around and above her. The words of life seemed to be written on them and she could see the words reflecting and glittering in the sun. She took a slow and careful bite. She chewed for a long time, trying to make sense of it, trying to digest it. Her body began to feel heavier than ever before, but her mind felt different. For the first time, she experienced a glimmer of hope. So accustomed to downward spiraling thoughts that seemed to form a rope around her body, she suddenly knew that her useless hands and stubborn, slow, heavy body could never stop her from eating these green pages with the words of life glittering on them. Almost unable, she kept moving ahead.

She ate. She ate the words. She ate more and more and more. Her body grew bigger and slower, but her mind felt lighter and almost free. She consumed these pages without a thought anymore to the swooping shadows and darkness that threatened above her. It was as if the pages provided shelter — from enemies and from the storm. She chewed and swallowed. Again. And again. She grew, bigger, slower, and heavier.

One morning, when she woke up, she couldn’t move. She couldn’t go another inch. The leafy pages around her and above her still danced in the wind. She wanted more, but her body had finally won. She couldn’t move. She began to cry. Her tears poured out like the rain that pitter-pattered on the leafy papers, now a thousand umbrellas to shelter her. She cried hard, pouring out all of her depression and all of her newly awakened mind. She cried all the weight of her heavy body into those tears. Written in those tears were the words of life. She lay her life down, and it felt like death. She closed her eyes and still the tears poured out of her like silken words and she began to weave them around herself. She spun the weight of her helplessness. She spun the heaviness of her depression. She spun all the thickness of her body and being around and around her — like a cocoon.

It was dark and silent. She could see nothing anymore, as if the words of life were wrapped tightly around her very soul. Somehow, she knew that to the world (and those dancing green pages, and those swooping shadows), she no longer existed. And yet, she began to think that all the colors of light were somehow wrapped inside the great absence of color that surrounded her. Although her eyes were closed and her body paralyzed, she started to feel all the color of the rainbow write itself into her skin.

A day passed. Maybe a week. Could have been years. She was suddenly filled with an insatiable thirst. This thirst, like an invisible sign or a silent urging call, willed her to go on. “Be brave,” her thirst seemed to say. “Don’t be afraid,” it said. And then, “The burden I give you is light.” Remembering, she took a slow and careful bite. She chewed for a long time trying to make sense of it, trying to digest it. But, there was nothing in this bite. The words of life that had wrapped around her were no longer outside her in this empty, dry casing, but rather had found their way somewhere else. So, she broke the casing. She pushed and pulled her way through. She felt vulnerable but brave. Hopeful and unafraid.

She opened her eyes, but all was dark in the world. No clouds, or moon, or stars. She stretched her arms and prepared as if to dance. For the first time her body did not feel so heavy. Her depression did not feel so eternal. She could feel the rough scratchy wood under her feet again. She took a deep breath and she felt joy surge in her heart. Now, she could feel the wind. Wind in her hair. Wind under her feet.

Purple and pink began to spread out before her. Then, orange and red. Then a fiery burning, unquenchable light broke through the darkness. The light was with her and the light of the words of life could be seen by all the universe, written on her humble and eternal wings.