dear Bridget: when the darkness comes
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 melange 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, wrapping you in darkness until you can see nothing else.
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 or inpatient treatment. 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.
Aug 14, 2014 @ 06:41:46
Halee, thanks so much for your honesty. We need more people like you to cut down on the stigma of mental health problems. I also struggled with depression when I was kid, a teenager, and some as an adult. I have found counseling to be helpful, which might be why I became one! 🙂 I know the power of reaching out and getting help personally and professionally. Thanks for this awesome post!
Aug 14, 2014 @ 12:51:52
Thanks for sharing, Allison! I think it’s often an unfortunate side effect of being creative – the same artistic temperament that allows us to empathize and create relatable characters also sometimes makes us feel far too much pain. And it breaks my heart to see so much judgement and misunderstanding around mental health issues but I’m hopeful that, over time, the stigma will fade and society will come to some level of understanding. And I know your work has a hand in that, so thank you for what you do!