Living with mental illness can be full of darkness. When I am in the midst of a severe depressive episode, I cannot see the light. I cannot feel the warmth of the sun or of my family and friends trying to support me. I know they are there and they do support me, even if I don’t feel it, and all of that is absolutely a saving grace. Today however, I want to talk about what happens when the darkness passes.
When the darkness passes, it is similar to overcoming physical illness. I wake up one day with energy, seeing the bright, remarkable world we live in, feeling all the warmth there is to feel. And the darkness of the previous few days or few weeks seems so irreconcilable with where I am now. It seems like a different person, one who couldn’t possibly return, even though I know better.
When the darkness passes, even normal everyday things seem good to me. The lowest valleys of my depression allow me to feel like I am alive when really I’ve just climbed back to sea level. For some people this moment can be dangerous, as the find the energy to self-harm that they might have lacked when they were deeper in the darkness of their depression. For me however, the danger is that I feel so good I forget that I also have social anxiety, and sometimes find myself overextending myself in a way that will leave me exhausted and at risk for backsliding, like I talked about Monday.
And where I am now is at a place where I know the light will come. It is a little like learning to hold your breath under water. At first it seems like the most unnatural thing to do, to dive beneath the waves and cut yourself off from the oxygen that we all need. But then you learn the surface is right there, you will return to it again. While depression may not give me the choice before it plunges me into the abyss (seriously first Monday, then today, what is up with the water metaphors), I know know that the darkness passes and I will come out of my depression.
And if the darkness is where you are, know that that is true for you too. The darkness will pass.