This has by far been the easiest post to write and the hardest to press "Publish" on. If it speaks to 1 person I'm a happy camper. Because it's also possibly the most personal and most important.
Last year, I went through a time where I was being crushed. It was nothing new to me; I’ve experienced depression since I was a teenager. If you’ve ever walked through that darkness, you know that when you’re in it how easy it is to forget that you’ve been able to leave it before. When you’re depressed, it can be impossible to imagine the lightness of life. When you’re well, you wonder how you could ever have been so low.
I am the first to argue that life is BEAUTIFUL. It is. I can’t really convince you of that through words, as much as I might try. But try I will, because I don’t know who might be reading something I’ve written who might absolutely need to be convinced in that moment that yes, life is still beautiful. That yes, pain is just a place. That yes, the darkness will end.
I’m also the first to argue that while I’m certain that is has to come from within, getting better is not so simple as just “try harder” or “go outside and smell the flowers” or “fake it til you make it.” Those are all avenues that may or may not work, or are at the very least distractions. But for me, it was like learning how to walk again. I needed support- TONS of it– but at some point, I needed to stand on my own. I needed to choose to believe that not only did the flowers smell beautiful, but that those flowers were a reflection of life.
Choosing that is not easy.
My favorite line a friend told me, surely not aware of the depths of my despair, was, “Just learn to control your feelings.” This fell shortly after some heartache, two suicides, and a million other things that buried me so deep I thought I was dying. I will never forget those words because they cut so deep. Unintentionally, I had been told by someone I had trusted most and knew me the best that my emotions were invalidated, my needs were taxing (and they were– depression’s a lot to bear on a friend), and that they simply could not understand what being this dead while breathing actually felt like.
That was not their fault. I often wish no one I loved understood what I was going through because that would mean that they had more than likely been there before. But that’s an incredibly lonely place to be.
Something I learned from that was that words hold such weight. What we say, as innocuous as it may sound, may hold a totally different but equally true meaning to someone else. That’s multiplied ten-fold when we let ourselves be vulnerable and share our hearts.
Those words can crush us or lift us high enough that we can touch lightly back down on our own two feet, and stay there. At least for a while.
I’ve been relatively well for a while now. I have a lot of people to thank for that, most who will never know what incredible impact a tiny word or passing action had on reminding me that yes, this life is BEAUTIFUL. I don’t know if/when the darkness will creep back into me, but I’ve learned so much how to fight it, and who will fight it alongside me. And it is absolutely a fight, and you might be your own worst enemy. I remember asking my therapist at Pepperdine, “Okay, be honest with me…do you think I’m a psychopath.”
“Safeena, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve seen crazy. I can say with all confidence, that you are not one of those people.”
Thank GOD. Some of the most weighted positive words I have ever heard in my life. I digress…
The following is something I had written on a really bad night just over a year ago.
And the responses.
At the time, I never thought I’d share with anyone that I wrote this because I wasn’t sure that I’d conquer it. I wasn’t sure that, if I did get better, I would want to be vulnerable again. But, having screen-shotted it and reading it fairly regularly, I’ve realized that vulnerability has saved my life a million times and one. Those words– mere Facebook comments– held weight during the darkest times. (Confession pt 2- I was also a little embarrassed about how narcissistic I then thought I sounded)
I read it during the light times too, because I never want to forget what it felt like. If I let myself forget, I will forget how much weight my words might hold to someone currently in the shoes I was in last year. If I let myself forget, that darkness becomes less recognizable– I’ll forget the early signs.
I want to– and I want you to– be aware of the darkness while remaining or stepping into the light.
We are broken in every way. For many of us, we are so finely fractured in a million different directions, that few recognize the cracks as brokenness. And when they do, it’s a whole other battle to come to terms with our perfect setup falling apart. It took half a year for my therapist to make me cry. If you know me that is HUGE because I cry when Tom Hanks loses Wilson. Sorrow does not show mercy to outward perfection or success or adventurousness and whatever other filler we’ve defined ourselves to others as. Be conscious of that.
But moreover, be conscious of each other.