Dealing with Darkness

By Becky HartungJanuary 5, 2015

I’m not much of a “journal-er.” In fact, I own a handful of journals with the first page dedicated to how I will force myself into journaling, and the rest is filled with blank, white pages. Recently, I found a few pages written on painful nights that prompted me to write this post. 

This is an excerpt from one of those nights: 

“Why do I hate the very thought of myself? The thought that I’m gulping the air from someone else’s lungs, someone else who is much more worthy of this oxygen than I, pains me to believe. I know truth, but truth doesn’t seem to matter in this moment. Why am I unable to feel truth? Why am I unable to feel? Would this world really be a better world without me? 

These thoughts are usually followed by silence. It’s a painful silence, and it comes with an apathetic stillness that hinders rational thinking and universal truth and causes my body to ache. 

My struggle with depression and social anxiety began at an early age, stemming from the abandonment I faced after my adoption. I was painfully shy when I started school, and my difficulties adapting to peers left me, often times, socially stunted. I hit my lowest point at the age of 16 when I attempted suicide for the first time. 

Depression makes living hard. I lose interest in things I was once passionate about, have difficulties controlling my emotions, and feel completely unhappy sometimes. There is still a stigma in society surrounding the issue of mental illness. People often oversimplify or misunderstand these struggles, reducing it to statements like, “Oh, they are just sad sometimes. It’s not a big deal.” 

The truth is that it is a big deal. I believe it’s a part of being human for some of us. The things we face in life are, in the truest sense, a “big deal.” Thankfully, the art of vulnerability allows us to see one another and be there for each other in the greatest moments of life. 

Being vulnerable with my community has become my greatest encouragement today. I remember a night walking into my friend’s house after a really tough day. As I entered the doorway, you could still see the traces of tears on my face. My friend looked at me and motioned for me to sit down. I remember his comforting words after I tearfully told him of the struggle that was surrounding my heart. 

“It’s hard,” I said. 

“The door’s unlocked,” he replied. 

This was what it meant to see each other. This was community. 

I believe we can share in our experiences. I choose to not look at my depression as an impossible hurdle but as a rare door that opens my eyes to see and understand people. We are not broken, but fully alive when we do life together. 

There is no perfect mold that we should fit into to be human. We each play a special role in the world in communicating love to one another. Sometimes struggling allows us to see the world in a new way. I believe that the anxiety and depression I deal with can be used for good, and I want to use my hardships to understand those who are hurting and aid them through seasons of doubt. The greatest connections I’ve made with people begin with the words, “I’ve never told anyone this before…” 

If someone opens up to you about whatever is a big deal in their life, don’t worry about having the perfect answer. Just be part of their community. Don’t ignore it. Don’t dismiss those in life you don’t understand. Just commit to sitting down with someone, in the midst of their darkest moments, and love that person. This is where people are seen.

Leave a Reply

Comments (27)

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  2. Caitlin Barreda

    I love reading these, they help me realize that I’m not the only one. Thank you!

    Reply  |  
  3. David

    Very inspiring. Got my mood up 🙂 thank you

    Reply  |  
  4. Noelle

    Wow, thank you so much for opening up and sharing this, I’m right there with you. I needed to hear this tonight. 🙂

    Reply  |  
  5. Ashley

    Thank you for this post i was feeling hopeless alone and didn’t want to go on anymore but you opened my eyes to see im not alone and i am not the only one struggling with mental illness.

    Reply  |  
    1. Hannah

      I hope you continue to find hope. 🙂

      Reply  |  
  6. Anonymous

    thank you for sharing this. some people don’t understand the struggle is real. I appreciate this blog a lot. like you said we don’t need the right answers or the perfect one, we just need someone there for us in our darkest moments for either a hug, words of encouragement or both. seriously thanks for sharing it definitely reminds me im not the only one that deals with it

    Reply  |  
  7. Jess

    For the longest time, I always felt so alone in my depression and anxiety. No one understood, it seemed. All of you at TWLOHA help me realize that not only am I not alone, I’m heard. That knowledge is invaluable, and this movement has helped keep me alive.

    Reply  |  
  8. K

    I could probably make a shirt or piece of art inspiration out of nearly every line in your post! Thanks for the beautiful reminder that none of us know what we are doing in life, but being community for each other is what makes life worth fighting for. This is why we struggle, why we live, and why we choose to overcome even when we can’t.

    Reply  |  
  9. Anonymous

    You are an inspiration ♢

    Reply  |  
  10. Tarah

    Its funny. Ive been ranting about a community with my friends and no one seems to understand that being fully alive is to be together. Thank you for the reminder.

    Reply  |  
  11. Chelsea

    I think this is amazing and so many people need to read this

    Reply  |  
  12. Anonymous

    This is so beautiful. thank you. I relate to this greatly

    Reply  |  
  13. Scott

    First and foremost, thank you. I too have struggled since my earlier teenage years with depression and suicide attempts and ideation. And even though time has helped me learn to deal with them that darkness still remains although significantly smaller. My brother died last year,March 2,2013. He was only 18. He was holding his gun after cleaning it watching tv,it had a “hare trigger”, I believe he reached for something,or maybe the dog chased the cat again and bumped into him,no one really knows because he was home alone. He was NOT suicidal. He loved life, and he wldnt pick my moms couch if he was. They were best friends. The day that he left a black hole opened in all of our chests and some days they feel like they’ve only grown rather than healed. My family has been through so much pain and heartache and trials and tribulations,mostly to do with me but nothing could have prepared us for this. And any medication that may have helped with my Maj Dep, Bipolar and anxiety disorder before? Well its works when it feels like it now. But I should be grateful,my mom’s doesn’t seem to be working much at all these days………your blog really made me feel like were not all alone here. Thank you so much for that. Some days that’s all I really want ya know? Just to really truly know I’m not the only one…

    Reply  |  
  14. LVE4GOD

    Thanks for sharing, and keep it coming.

    Reply  |  
  15. Nancy

    Grow miracles out of Difficulties. Thank you. Once again I’m reminded why there is suffering, to gain compassion.

    Reply  |  
  16. Melissa

    This is truly one of my favorite blog posts that I’ve seen in a long time. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply  |  
  17. Michaela

    Thank you ❤

    Reply  |  
  18. Allyson

    I’ve read a LOT of these blog entries, but never has one reached under my skin and grabbed my heart the way this one did. Thank you for your honesty and bravery. I appreciate you, your journey and your willingness to share your pain and your hope!

    Reply  |  
  19. Doug Russell

    My thoughts and words written by you. Amazing.

    Reply  |  
  20. Emily anne

    Well maybe it has something to do with you not being a journaler (because I am, and I have a horrible tendency to ramble on and on; in trying to convey a message or make a point it tends to get lost in the mess instead), what you wrote expresses much of what I’ve been thinking about lately – in a more understandable way.

    I agree that depression is far too often over-simplified… it is just such a complex thing. I sometimes think it’s simply easier for others to accept the simple definitions – or minimize the reality of it, otherwise it becomes too confusing.

    It would make life a whole lot easier if people could understand, but I think the only way to truly do so is to experience it oneself, and I don’t wish that on anyone. Even to simpy not be judged is an amazing thing, and it makes me sad that judgement of some sort is all too common a reaction to these things… but like you, I am grateful for that ability to better understand and hopefully encourage those I meet who are struggling, even if it’s just to be someone willing to listen and truly care.

    Reply  |  
  21. Allison Lawrence

    I teared up reading this. It hit me so hard.

    Reply  |  
  22. Encouragement Needed

    Hey I just recently heard about this site and have really enjoyed reading the post. I don’t really know what to say but after challenging my case manager to research something that is important to me for him to know he accepted and in return challenged me to start writing on this site.

    Reply  |  
  23. Ellie

    You have no idea how much this site or these blogs alone mean to me. Thank you. Thank you for always being there.

    Reply  |  
  24. Anonymous

    This comment could not be shared due to the nature of the message.

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us.

      TWLOHA is not a 24-hour helpline, nor are we trained mental health professionals. TWLOHA hopes to serve as a bridge to help.

      If this is an emergency or if you need immediate help, please call and talk to someone at 1-800-273-TALK or reach out to the LifeLine Crisis Chat at“. We also have a list of local resources and support groups on our FIND HELP page. Please know that we also respond to every email we receive at [email protected].

      Reply  |  
  25. Johnny

    Don’t ever say about taking someone else’s air. You are so very special. Even if u don’t feel it now. Someday hopefully you will.

    Reply  |  
Get Email Updates

Sign up for our newsletter to hear updates from our team and how you can help share the message of hope and help.