As I think back over this last year, as I sort through the sparse collection of memories I have, I cannot help but wonder. I wonder if you’ve noticed how absent I’ve been. I wonder if you’ve noticed that I stumble over my words, that I cannot focus, and that I’m fragile so often. I wonder if you’ve noticed the circles under my eyes and the constant shaking in my hands. I wonder all of these things—and I wonder them because it seems that you haven’t noticed. I wonder because this veil of “fine” that I wear has grown so thin. I wonder because, despite that vulnerability, it seems you somehow haven’t seen me underneath that veil. And because you haven’t seen me, there are some things I want you to know—some things you need to know.
This first truth I want to share lies at the epicenter of all other truths. The truth is this: For a long time, for much of my life, I have been sick—and my silence about this reality has only served to make me sicker. Upon hearing this, you may be in disbelief, which I understand. Externally, I appear to be fine the majority of the time. But the trouble with this sickness, this disease, is that it disguises itself with incredible skill. Though it is not a cancer, it acts as such—it is a malignancy that, at its conception, appears insignificant. It is often nothing more than a mere discomfort. Yet it soon grows and consumes all that it touches with an impenetrable and thick darkness. This is a darkness that no light can touch, no words can break, and no relationship can heal. It is a darkness that poisons and convinces that distortions are reality, that there is no point in fighting, and that the best choice, the easiest, is to simply fall into the willing and open arms of this comfortable darkness.
Why? The answer is rather simple: To fight against the power of a sick mind is a battle that at some point no longer seems worth fighting. While so many adhere to the belief that the greatest danger lies in weapons in the hands of others, the truth is that a mind turned against itself is truly the most dangerous of all. At some point, somewhere in the process of that vicious and exhausting fight, the clearest and loudest voice says, “Give up. Give in. End it.” There is great comfort in the reality of relief.
It is important to know that though I call this defeat, this giving in, a comfort, it is only a comfort in contrast to the constant, agonizing, and twisting pain.
It is a comfort in that it gives a clear answer to the question, “Is this really all there is?” It is a comfort in that it gives a clear end to the cycle of, “I cannot do this forever.”
Having said all of that, having hopefully made the nature of this sickness more clear, my desire is that your grasping of the darkness allows you to see me a bit more clearly. Whether that be the case or not, I ask you to listen a bit longer. For what you need to know even more than any of that which has come before is this—the most gutwrenching symptom of this disease is not the desire for death, but rather the fear of life. The darkness that settles on me does not remove goals, eliminate dreams, or erase hopes. More frighteningly, it makes all of those core aspects of my being seem impossible and unachievable.
But if you hear nothing else, hear this: The presence of fear and darkness does not mean that the hopeful parts of me cease to exist.
I want to see the world.
I want to hold those that I love.
I want to cry and to laugh.
I want to feel and know peace.
I want to take another breath.
I want these things deeply and painfully, but sometimes they feel just out of reach. So if I can ask one more thing of you: Please be patient. I want to be healthy. I want to make it. I want to be here and be present. I want light in the darkness.
Sometimes, I just need a little time.
Depression has a way of making us feel incredibly isolated. We’re here to remind you of the truth that you are not alone. We encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected].