A talented man died on Monday. He was the person everyone wanted to be best friends with. He made a lot of people laugh and breathed life into a whole mélange of characters.
He took his own life.
A lot of people struggle to understand it. “He was so successful,” they say. “He had a family. He had children!” They have trouble understanding how someone who seemed to have it all could end it all.
They haven’t been to the dark places.
But I have. Maybe you have too.
There are a lot of things about life that other people, the ones who haven’t felt the weight of darkness, will never be able to understand. Like how what you know is a gift can feel like an unbearable burden. Like how, when you’re drowning under the weight of life, it doesn’t matter who loves you or all those wonderful reasons to live. In that kind of darkness, you can’t see anything.
So what helps, when someone is struggling with deep depression?
The knowledge that it doesn’t last. It’s temporary. Sure, it feels unending when you’re in it. It feels overwhelming, like a monster trying to consume you.
I read once that J.K. Rowling’s experience with depression inspired her creation of dementors–soulless, faceless wraiths who suck the joy from you and make you feel alone and so cold inside. There may be no more apt analogy for depression.
But there is hope, Bridget, even in darkness. There is love, even in pain. And nothing in this life is permanent.
And slowly the darkness becomes a memory. Life is brighter again, and hope, tangible.
If you ever find yourself struggling in the darkness, Bridget, know there is still light. Even if it’s beyond your sight for a moment, the light is there. It doesn’t cease to exist when you’re blindfolded by pain.
There’s life on the other side of the darkness. It’ll be there waiting when you fight your way out.
I know. I’m there.
It’s been years since I lost myself in the darkness. That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally have bouts with it, feel it tugging on my arm and whispering in my ear when life gets overwhelming. But I can honestly say that I have a beautiful life. I have dreams that may very well be achievable. I have a husband who loves me and sister-friends I know will stick with me forever. I’ve won enough battles with the darkness to know I can do it again. And that keeps the darkness at bay for me.
But not everyone’s experience is like that. Some people need medical intervention. No matter what anyone may tell you, there is no shame in asking for help. The darkness will lie and tell you no one can help you. It’s not true. It’s a silent killer, depression. No one benefits when we ignore it. Don’t let it bully you into hidden suffering.
There’s a reason you’re in this world, Bridget. No matter how dark things may get, your reason still lives and shines. If the darkness ever threatens to consume you, remember this: you’re worth fighting for. Fight for yourself. I promise you won’t regret it.
What’s Dear Bridget all about? It’s a new series, composed of letters to a hypothetical teen girl named Bridget. Why Bridget? It means strong. And it represents the current generation of young women. These letters are my attempt to break through the chaos and the crap that’s flying at today’s young woman in order to offer advice and encouragement, from me and other incredible women who remember what it was like to be in her shoes. If you’re a teen girl and you’ve got a question or issue you’d like us to address, let me know. Just click on the contact button (that round envelope icon at the top of the sidebar) and send me your thoughts. If you’re an awesome adult woman who remembers those teen years clearly and would like to write to Bridget, feel free to contact me and tell me about yourself.