Hello Darkness My Old Friend

As a kid I had nightmares all the time and, even though the monsters have changed, I still have them. In fact, my depression often looks like a cloak made of my worst nightmares, creeping into my waking life until I am completely wrapped up in it.

The joy I experience when depression is off hiding can seem so unquenchable. I’m able to forget that depression ever visited me in the first place. But when depression is there, it’s entirely the opposite. I forget I ever knew anything else.

Nothing can drown out its chorus in my head: “You’re hateful, selfish, unloveable, unlovely.”

Sometimes it’s less like a voice and more like a movie. Scenes of rejection, failure, humiliation, and exclusion (real or imagined) play on a loop in my mind until there’s nothing I can do but hate myself.

Sometimes there’s nothing going on at all. Sometimes, I just feel trapped in this dark place where there’s nothing to do but sleep or cry until my head pounds. I eat, drink, write, dig my fingernails into my skin, anything to overwhelm or distract the pain that rages inside. On those days, just getting out of bed is a triumph that I need to acknowledge.

But there’s something comforting about it too. I know it, backwards and forwards. I’ve felt that darkness so often, that it can feel like a blanket, silencing every other feeling or thought.

Although it includes it, depression is more than insecurity or anxiety. It is a kind of sorrow, but it is deeper than any grief I’ve lived through. It is a kind of anger, but it is more troubling than any rage I have known, either rational or childish. It is a kind of loneliness beyond being single or alone. It is a kind of indifference, a hopelessness for any improvement, and I have never experienced that apathy apart from my depression. It encompasses all my past pain and amplifies it a hundredfold.

But there’s something comforting about it too. I know it, backwards and forwards. I’ve felt that darkness so often, that it can feel like a blanket, silencing every other feeling or thought. There are no surprises because I’ve heard it and felt it all before. There’s no restlessness, because when it comes I have no strength for anything but staying alive.

And even that will to live wanes thin. The harder depression hits, the more deeply I long for release from what begins to feel like a heavy, itching, shroud of life too difficult to bear.

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you feel like you face the darkness of depression alone. It’s hard for someone who hasn’t dealt with it firsthand to understand what we feel, and it can make it hard for us to reach out. I always need a reminder, and I want to offer it to you too: you are not alone.

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If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please read Scott's story.