Moving Toward the Light

Depression Quote

I was really on the fence about sharing this post. On one hand, it follows the whole “keeping it real” theme I seem to be following of late. On the other hand, real isn’t always pleasant.

What if you all start seeing me as a whiner? I’m not. Not usually, anyway. What if I’m coming off as a drama queen? Perceived to be fishing for attention? Or, worse, causing you all to feel down and depressed?

The thing that finally swayed me is this… this is my blog. Yes, I care what you all think (I suspect you’d prefer honesty over pretending), but I’ve come to reply upon this space as a chronicler of my life.  I refer back to it often to figure out dates that we’ve done something, read about previous routes, revisit old pictures, etc. So, in the future, when I wonder, “What year was it that I sorta slid off the deep end right before Christmas?”, I’ll have this as a record.

It’s a perfect example of the weird, rambling, philosophical stuff that fills my mind in the hours between my going to bed and my actually falling asleep. I actually wrote it down on paper first, between about 2 and 3 a.m. this morning.

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There is darkness in all of us. I believe it’s an essential part of who we all are as people. That “darkness” could be regrets about as-yet-unfulfilled desires or dreams, unresolved memories from an abusive past, mistakes made, hurts inflicted by or upon you, etc.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. I mean, without darkness, how can we ever really appreciate the light?

What is joy without sorrow? Pride, without shame? Love, without hate?

skeletonI believe everyone has some form of mental darkness, to varying degrees. There are no perfect people. Darkness of the mind can sometimes manifest itself with predictable regularity, like day turns to night — gradually, as with a picture-perfect sunset after a blue-sky-and-big-puffy-white-cloud day — then recede cleanly after a brief interval, giving way to yet another sunny day. Or it can linger longer, like a low-pressure system trapped by one or more stubborn highs. Leaving your days obscured by clouds, fog, and or a dreaded, cold, misty, haze. So your nights sort of blend in and simply feel like darker versions of your days.

Perhaps your darkness descends with little or no warning, like a strong summer thunderstorm, signaled by a smell in the air, subtle change in the light, strong gusts of wind, flying debris, and/or solid bank of ominous clouds that sweep in, obscuring the sun, and completely enveloping the daylight — maybe with a bang! — sometimes leaving damage in its wake.

With age comes wisdom, as they say. Over the years, I have come to realize the importance of understanding the character of one’s own darkness. You need to get comfortable with it. Be bold and explore its darkest reaches. Poke around and see what you can see. You just might learn something.

And what if you do? What if you find something interesting? Scary? Painful? Embarassing? Do you give someone a flashlight and invite them in to look, too? Do you acknowledge the thing’s existence, but leave it lie, unmolested, in its dusty little nook or cranny? Or scoot past it quickly and pretend it simply does not exist?

No one can ever see things the exact same way as you do. We are all just people. We think, feel, smell, taste, hear, experience, and understand things differently. Would you have to explain why your darkness scares you, makes you sad, elicits confusion or otherwise affects you? Could you?

What if it’s like a pile of mysterious rodent skeletons discovered in the attic of your old house, which you find completely fascinating, but others may just see as repulsive?

“Um, why did you even look at them closely? Measure them? Set them aside to share?

It’s just an old, gross, stinky pile of bones!”

Maybe it’s like the kid who called you ugly many years ago, in the cruel, offhand way kids do, who makes you feel ugly to this day?

“Wait. You believed that scrawny little dickhead? He’s an idiot. You’re so beautiful! Really.

Perhaps it’s like the crazy relative or friend, who you know is off-the-wall and completely “out there,” but “get,” knowing she’s harmless.

“Oh my God, what a total weirdo! That chick really Freaks. Me. The. Fuck. Out.”

It’s all about perception, and perception requires understanding. Can anyone ever really KNOW you the way that you know yourself? Should they? Would it make a difference?
We may never see the dark side of the moon, but when we see that glowing orb in the sky, night or day, we know it’s the moon. And if we did one day get to explore it’s darker places, it would STILL be the moon.

Darkness isn’t always scary. At times it can be fun, soothing, powerful, comforting, enlightening.

It’s sort of like when you find an old shoebox full of pictures, many of which are faded, cracking, or otherwise deteriorated from age. You may not recognize everyone. You rifle past images of people you never really liked and linger over photos of people who made you laugh or at least smile. You run your finger gently over the faces of those you loved, and those you love still. Perhaps you shed a few tears. Maybe you throw away pictures of people you’d sooner forget, unwittingly performing a cleansing of sorts.

I recently took an unscheduled, impromptu tour of my own dark places. I don’t visit often, and for good reason. It was tumultuous and enlightening. Scary at times, too. I’m making my way back as I write this.

I’m not anxious to make a return visit, though I’m sure I will one day. But, you know what? The world to which I am returning remains unchanged. It’s the exact same place I left, populated by the same people, subject to the same weather patterns, etc., but it looks different to me. Brighter, somehow. Prettier. More-welcoming. Heck, it looks like an all-around happier place. It’s brilliant, really. Promising. It seems a bit warm, too.

It’s good to be heading back.


9 Replies to “Moving Toward the Light”

  1. Like you said, we all have our dark places that we occasionally visit (voluntarily or not), but it is good to be able to find out of the maze of troublesome thoughts, and get back to the good things. Here’s to 2016.

  2. Kathy, everyone has these times, and if they deny it, they are lying, probably even to themselves.

    I think it’s good to visit your darkness, and even better to return, and understand that you are moving toward the light.

    Happy New Year…think of all the new adventures in 2016!

    1. I don’t know if this helps, and I certainly don’t want to suggest that depression is like a nightmare, and I’m a lawyer, not a doctor, so take this with a fistful of salt.

      Our eldest son was struggling with nightmares when he was six or seven. Rather than comforting him and saying soothing things, I turned on the light and explored the nightmare with him when it was fresh. I got him to explain it to me. As he explained it your could see the parts that really troubled him just from the expression on his face. We discussed it as if it was a series of events that had happened in reality. Once I had a grip on the nightmare, I said to him that it was just a product of his imagination that he couldn’t control. I also told him that since it was imaginary, he was lucky because he could imagine that he had countermeasures. If the fear was a vampire, he could imagine himself as the most powerful of all the vampire slayers.

      He seemed immediately relieved. A couple of days later, he crawled into our bed in the morning and said the nightmare had returned, but he used the super powers he had imagined and had a blast slaying the beatts.

      That was the last time he suffered from nightmares.

      Like I said, it may have no bearing on depression. Yet I think that exploring the beasts that stalk us, facing our fears and weaknesses, is a good place to start.

      The blog is probably a good choice as a venue.

      Oh… And no one who is worth knowing is going to think anything except, that’s one brave girl.

      1. David, what an awesome story. “…he was lucky because he could imagine that he had countermeasures.” I especially loved reading, “he used the super powers he had imagined and had a blast slaying the beasts.” That’s one powerful tool you gave your son.

        It does have bearing on depression, because depression often is like a waking nightmare. Your mind plays tricks on you for no apparent reason.

        Thanks for the support.

    2. Thanks for the support, Lynne. Exploring the dark reaches really does make one appreciate the light more than ever.

      Here’s to lots of grand adventures in 2016.

  3. It is good to leave the darkness and head towards the light, just pick the right light – do not walk towards that light yet.

    I hope that 2016 finds you in your happy place.

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