Trigger warning: this post discusses depression and suicide.
Before you read this poem, I want you to know that it describes the way I felt for the first week after my hysterectomy surgery (more about that surgery here, and the recovery here, here and here). My emotions were affected by the physical stress of the surgery, the fluctuations it caused in my hormones, and the various medications they gave me. Although I wasn’t suicidal, I still felt depressed and worthless, I hated myself, and I was terrified that this was ‘the new me’. (I was open with my family about how I was feeling, and they were incredibly supportive of me). Thankfully, as I recovered physically, I also recovered mentally, and the darkness melted away.
However, if you relate to this poem, and for you it doesn’t describe a temporary, short-term state of mind, please tell someone. Have a chat to your doctor: there are things they can do to help shift the darkness. If you’re not ready to talk about it face-to-face, then call a hotline and talk over the phone. In Australia, you can call the Lifeline hotline (13 11 14) and talk to someone for free. Operating 24/7, they are equipped to help you through suicidal thoughts / attempts, personal crisis, anxiety, depression, loneliness, abuse and trauma, and stresses from work / family / society; as well as providing self-help information for friends and family. There are lots of other places that can help too.
Friends and family – if you notice someone is struggling with darkness, don’t shy away from talking to them about it. Let them know that they are not alone. Support them. Help them to get the help that they need. I recently saw this video, and share it here to encourage you to ask the hard questions. It could save a life. (The video is aimed at parents who have a teenager struggling with darkness, but I think it applies equally to other relationships and age groups).
* * *
Not the kind that just blinds your eyes
That darkness is banished easily
With a simple flick of a switch
This darkness is so heavy, so dense
That I’m almost crushed under the weight of it
A concrete gargoyle perching on my shoulders
This darkness oozes down my throat
Oppressive, suffocating, smothering
Like a pillow held firmly over my face
I can’t breathe
Feet drumming, hands flailing
I try to push the darkness away
But it has no corporeal form
I tell myself it will pass
I tell myself not to listen to the lies
The darkness whispers in my mind
But I feel like I’m treading water
No sign of land in any direction
And I’m tired…so tired
Was there ever a time before this darkness?
It seems it is eternal
Torturously slowly, almost lazily
The darkness spreads through my heart
Like an ink stain in slow motion
I feel my light within falter
And though I want to keep fighting
My strength is all but gone
All that I am able to do
Is to weep into my pillow
In one particularly dark moment, I asked Mr Happy to read the Bible passage Job 38-42:6 to me, out loud. God answers the suffering Job’s cry of “What are you DOING God?!” with an elegant reminder of who He is, and why He holds the reins. By the time Mr Happy finished reading those chapters, a little light had leaked into my heart, and the darkness wasn’t so strong. I was reminded that I don’t always know what God is doing in my life, but I do know that I can trust Him. That reminder brought me so much peace.