Darkness comes in all shapes, sizes and names. Many people have a story of their own personal darkness, it's just a matter of digging deep enough to find it. Some choose to bury it. Others choose to attack it head on. Some of us are a victim to it. Others have embraced it, letting it be part of us but knowing it's the past. I have darkness in my past. My darkness is named Depression with it's close friend, anxiety. Depression crept up on me overtime, while anxiety has always been a player in my life. Honestly, I had no idea what was happening until the darkness was more blinding than my light. Then admitting and fighting it's existence was a whole other journey.
The only way I know how to describe depression, so that those who have never experienced it will understand it, is Soul Sucking. It truly sucks & drains out every bit of mental and physical energy you have, leaving you only with the feeling of despair. Sounds dramatic, huh? That's because it is! Everyone's trigger towards depression is different. The first emotion I remember feeling was abandonment. I felt all those who mattered to me either just tossed me to the side or didn't really care about me. I felt very alone. Was this reality? Maybe for a few people, but over-all, no. I still had friends and family. This just added to the darkness. Part of me knew these feelings weren't reality but that feeling of "nobody cares" was way too strong, I couldn't fight it. So, I ended up feeling more worthless because something was wrong with me and I couldn't control it or "just get over it"!
I had my own self-run business, it started to fall apart due to the fact that my capacity for caring was gone, sucked out of me. It was impossible to get out of bed. The simple task of changing into clothes and making myself presentable was overwhelming. Even running the business from home was a struggle. Talking to potential clients was like a boxing match in my head, with both fighters being me. Constantly throwing and landing punches. I had no self-confidence or assurance in myself. The only thing I was convinced of was that no one wanted to be bothered by me, I would only annoy them. Then they would judge and mock me for thinking I was anything worth their time. Since I saw my business going down the tubes and no energy to stop it, caused me to sink lower in my darkness. Again, I then beat myself up for being so worthless that I couldn't even be successful with my business. Then the next domino effect of emotions, I jumped to the thought that caused a big sickness in my stomach, having to get another horrible 9-5 job where I would be a glorified secretary, because that was the only thing anyone would think I good enough for. A job that didn't show my strengths or passions. But wait, I didn't have any anyways so it didn't matter. Or so the Depression made me think.
All the things I enjoyed was no longer enjoyable for me. They actually felt more like a chore. I became attached to my bed for months. Being social turned into something that sounded like an awful idea. The thought of having a conversation or small talk was so frightening, I couldn't take the chance. Thinking of enough to say, simply to respond to a text, was very straining. Many went unanswered. It would bring tears to my eyes. Thinking back on that, maybe it was because I knew something in me was missing. I felt it. It made me sad. I had thoughts of suicide. Not too serious. But enough to know they were there. Thankfully, my mind would jump to my parents and my big sister. I felt so guilty just thinking about doing that to them. I knew how much they would hurt because of me. Luckily, I didn't allow It as an option.
My business wasn't the only failure I dwelled on, trust me, I thought of plenty. My memories gave me an extreme amount to critique: all my failed relationships, why I'm so easy to leave & still single, why I'm a failure as an adult and had to move back in with the parents, why I didn't have any real friends, why I didn't have any true accomplishments, so on & so on. Every negative thought felt so natural. Like it was part of me and completely normal. But why, I would think, what is wrong with me that I can't do anything right?? My soul, my spirit was suffocated by the darkness. No light, no hope, no positivity was left to be seen. It was such a devastating feeling that the only way I felt I could survive was to quiet my thoughts and take Xanax. Xanax would numb me to the crap thoughts that came up every time I would think and it allow me to sleep. The only way to stop the breath choking grip of the darkness.
It wasn't only mental, the darkness affected me physically. My appetite was squashed. But even when I did convince myself I had to eat something, then the battle to find something and prepare it began. When I say that all my energy was sucked out of me, I sure hope you can understand the depth that means. Just getting up and walking to the restroom was pure exhaustion. My weight loss was dramatic. In total, I lost 30 pounds in a matter of just a few months. If you were to know me, you would know I didn't have this to lose in the first place. I was 5'7' and maybe 120 lbs to begin with. After, my body was depleted of nutrients, which I could feel the affects. I was pure skin & bones. None of my clothes fit. This caused even more mental anguish. I have always been someone who tried to dress and look their best. Something I actually enjoyed, I enjoyed being feminine, wearing nice outfits. Now this was also missing! I was so embarrassed how my clothes hung on me, I felt I looked ridiculous. I couldn't leave the house, because if I did I knew everyone would be starring, judging and thinking I was a homeless drug addict or at least I convinced myself of it. The darkness swallowed me more. I remember about the half-way point of the depression, a friend of mine convinced me to come to a party at her house. It wasn't an easy decision but felt I had to, didn't want her to be upset, I already felt I was pushing too many away, so I went. There were several people there I hadn't seen in months, before the darkness took over. Almost immediately someone commented about how skinny I was and if I was ok. There were several similar comments throughout the night. I remember being so uncomfortable in my own skin, I couldn't stand it! How I kept the tears back the whole 2 hours that I forced myself to stay was beyond me.
One day, I reached for light again. I did come out of it. Crawl out it, actually. I will add a post soon about that part of the journey. I write about the memories and what it's like for two reasons: 1) To reach out to those who are currently suffering, letting you know you're not alone! These thoughts aren't yours alone. And there is hope. 2) To bring some awareness and understanding to the lucky ones who have never crossed that threshold into such a horrible period of life. Maybe hearing my story can make you aware that people do struggle. Possibly, those you are close to are dealing with similar issues. And once you can acknowledge it. you can be a support, which is a big key to recovery.
Since I started talking about my darkness and openly sharing my struggle with others, I have been trusted with many stories and versions of their darkness. I know I'm not the worst case or the easiest example but in the end, the feelings are very real and we all need support to get through it. Just be there for your people. No, you won't be able to fix it and you may not even see the difference you're making. But trust me, you being there, acknowledging their struggles and them as a person who matters to you, is what really reaches us the most. And it does, most definitely, makes a difference. And to those of you that are struggling, don't feel you have to do it alone. Have a little more faith in those that surround you. Start the conversation, it can be simple as "I'm not doing very well and I need your support". I'm not promising everyone will step up as they should, but try. If that doesn't work, find a support group. Churches are a good resource. They have groups, counselors or can point you to the right direction.