The other day I wrote a new post; the subject irrelevant to this post. It was my normal questioning of the life that I live and the breathless hope that somehow I may be helping those who are struggling like I am. You see, I have always written these posts as a sort of diary, a way for me to put into perspective the overwhelming reality of my life and my mental illness. And while I truly hope that what I write might help others, I don’t pretend, even to myself, that I know enough about this life to have answers. Usually my posts start with a question and end with answers still floating into the wind; it’s like being on a long, narrow highway and realizing there is no where for one to pull over for even the briefest of breaks. My thoughts and my posts are a journey through the countryside, without the assurance that there is any destination to find.
But on this last post I received a comment. I don’t get a lot of comments so I thank the person who left this one. She gave me a detour that may be incredibly important for me to follow. And while I didn’t respond to the comment, her words haven’t left me. I am still rolling down that highway but this time with a curious and somewhat strange and compelling question that I might actually need to answer. And while I often get my questions from the world around me, her simple comment spurned something in me that I can’t put down. It is why I am writing on a day I don’t write, why I am writing on a topic I have truly never explored. I can’t say it is keeping me up at night, but it is there like a hum in a room full of electronics.
In the insightful comment of this author she asked one simple thing, “If striving for the light isn’t possible, perhaps there’s something beautiful within the darkness.” The inherent question regarding the option of finding something where nothing should be is potentially a fundamental one. Could it make the monsters go away? Could this simple statement change my abilities to not only answer my unending questions, but could this simple statement change the real health that controls so much of my life?
It’s important for me to try and describe the darkness that she is referring to. You see, I live in a world of almost constant darkness. It doesn’t change color when the sun rises and it doesn’t dramatically change when I hear my children laugh. My darkness, my petulant attitude to this life I have been given, my absolute understanding that who and what I am is not the norm, not the desirable outcome, consumes me. My mental health takes things; it takes my happiness, my physical health, my relationships with those I love, my certainty of this world, my trust, and ultimately, my ability to fight something that feels so much bigger than I will ever be. The mental health this universe decided that I was in some way able to handle is insidious. The voices are ones that remind me of my lack of worth, the visions scare those who can’t see that which is so clear to me, the medicines take away my ability to control my health and leave me in a state that no man or woman should be shuttled into.
I write often of these things. The things that destroy me. The things that make it so easy to understand the warmth of suicide. The things that make me feel a consuming desire to simply walk away, without mercy; the same mercy that walked away from me so long ago. I have questions that range from why me? to why them? I have posts that are devoted to trying to understand where God is in my life, when the surcease that I deserve will finally come, and who will finally be the one thing in my life that will give me a moment out of that darkness. I live in darkness. I breathe in darkness. I survive by hiding in that darkness.
But this week someone had the audacity to make me wonder if there is something other than darkness. This week a simple comment made me wonder if there was something out there that I might cleave to, that I might so strongly hold onto, that maybe just maybe I could find a way to live with. Because with my mental health the one and only wish I truly have is to be able to live. Not with pain, not with insidious voices, not with pity, not with hurt and disgust, not with drugs that cover the symptoms, but with a outlook that could potentially hold within it that simple feeling: hope.
This author asked me to search for the light in the darkness. I certainly know the sentiment which she is speaking, I certainly understand the task that she has unknowingly dared me to complete. I can understand even the potential that answering that call could give me. But there is a sad truth: I don’t know if I can.
I don’t know if I have the capability, in my head and in my soul, to find a slice of light in the overwhelming darkness that permeates everything I know. I don’t know where to begin and honestly, I don’t know if I have the energy anymore to fail. Maybe that is the truth that I need to come to terms with: I have searched in every corner for that elusive hope that comes with the potential of light. Although it needs to be said that I have always left alone that bite of darkness as a place of refuge because it is the only thing that I actually know to be true. Darkness for all its misunderstanding, all its confusion for so many people can be the one place that doesn’t take any thought for me to live within. There is pain in that darkness. There are tears in that darkness. There is even freedom in the darkness of mental illness. What there isn’t a lot of is hope; and therefore, one can posit that there probably isn’t a lot of light to be found.
I wish I could tell that author that her words for one brief moment gave me a breathless sense that maybe I could change something. You see, I know many things about myself but the one I know deep inside of me is the truth that my mind controls so much of me. I don’t need placebos, tell me that the pill I am about to take will make me sick, and sick I will be. I don’t need expensive food, just put a plate in front of me and reassure me that it is everything I have ever wanted; it will end up being one of the few things that I actually eat. Tell me that even though the weatherman said it was cold that in reality it is very hot, and as long as I believe it, then it will be so. That’s how my mind works. And in order to find that light that was alluded to, I have to learn to believe that it might actually be.
But at the end of the day, although I have promised myself to think about this concept of light, the truth is to overcome all my trials, to find even a small bit of light, I have to figure out a way to believe. I have to find some part of me that is willing to take the risk not from straying from the darkness, I am afraid that has become my closest companion, but risk finding a slice of light. A slice of light that by all definition might give me a strength, a hope, a glimmer of what life would be like without the truth as I know it: darkness is my friend and there hasn’t been light in my life for longer than I have walked this earth.