From Darkness toward Dawn

From Darkness toward Dawn explores the author’s personal experience with anxiety and depression and attempts to offer hope to others that may be experiencing the same thing. For any readers struggling with illnesses like these, public resources have been attached at the bottom of the page.


It is not often that I, a writer at heart and by trade, find myself at a loss for words. Yet when I woke up this morning, I could no longer hear that small, internal voice telling me where to look for today’s small bit of hope. With a family that loves me, friends who support me, and a readership whose kindness and decency are apparent with each encouraging message that pings into my inbox, it seems there is no reason why today I should find myself suddenly filled with despair. In a world where I am surrounded by a net of well-meaning people who would sacrifice their own comforts to help me, why then does it take such an effort to find hope?

Since I was a child, news of violence and abuse shocked me. I found, as I began to grow, that the world was not quite what I was led to believe: some adults abuse their children, men in positions of power cared only about the bottom line, and humankind seemed content in turning a blind eye to our dying planet. The wider narrative of the world and its troubles weaved its way into my own life story, its threads growing so strong that I found existential dread had become a central part of my character. It stayed with me, a silent phantom, during all times of my life, changing forever the way I viewed the world and how I related to the people within it.

I have often equated the feeling of anxiety to that of drowning

These thoughts, which had been bottled carefully in the dark recesses of my mind, were allowed to breath only when I felt I could handle them. Each time I lifted the lid, it became harder and harder to clamp it back down. Yet as life got busy, and the trials of today began to complicate things, those slowly fermenting thoughts turned suddenly rancid; since the start of quarantine, their foul odor became impossible to ignore. They hung around me like bad air, heavy and thick, and my chest tightened painfully with each renewed breath. They clung to me at night, luring me down to the depths of sleep only to wake me with dreams of unexplained horrors. They tainted the food I ate, sitting like a rock in my stomach until, head hunched over the toilet, it was expelled again and flushed away.

In short, the pain I felt began to drag me down, isolating me from the things and people I had come to find meaning in. I was walking blindly down a road suddenly shrouded in darkness and have oftentimes struggled to find the light. Upon creating this blog, I believed I might find it through my writing and pin it down, rather like a child trapping a lightning bug in a jar for safekeeping. So I use today’s article as a platform to do two things. First to show others that they do not suffer from anxiety and depression alone. And second, to provide a bit of hope for those who believe that light might have left them forever.

Together, we can shine like a light in the darkness for one another

You are not alone. Whatever pain you are feeling, about the state of the world and its people or your own lot in life, there are others like you that both feel and understand that pain. For nearly all of my life, I believed that my journey through darkness was one I walked through alone. It wasn’t until reaching out to others, through sharing a bit of my anxieties and experiences, that I began to understand a simple, obvious truth: it is hard to believe that others are going through the same thing when you cannot see your way through the darkness. But there are others, like you and like me, who bear the brunt of hardship and sacrifice and wish for the world to be a better place.

You are not alone. Whatever pain you are feeling, about the state of the world and its people or your own lot in life, there are others like you that both feel and understand that pain. For nearly all of my life, I believed that my journey through darkness was one I walked through alone. It wasn’t until reaching out to others, through sharing a bit of my anxieties and experiences, that I began to understand a simple, obvious truth: it is hard to believe that others are going through the same thing when you cannot see your way through the darkness. But there are others, like you and like me, who bear the brunt of hardship and sacrifice and wish for the world to be a better place.

We build our lives through chains of compassion

So extend your hand to others and let them help you. By raising your voice and adding it to the dialogue, you will begin the first step at normalizing mental illness and become another beacon for others to look to when they find themselves, like I do today, in the depths of despair. Do not lose hope: by choosing to fight, you add another vital link to the chain of attachments that can lead our world to a brighter, kinder future. When today feels hopeless, dream instead of tomorrow. The night is always darkest just before the dawn; your light, although it may seem small and wavering, can burn like a beacon for others if you only have enough strength to believe.


Resources

If you’ve read this post and feel as though you’re light has gone out, please connect with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline here. It’s a free service offered by kind, compassionate people who see the value and potential of your life, even if you might not at the moment.

If our message resonated with you but you still can’t shake the feeling of hopelessness and despair, click the link here to access SAMHSA’s National Helpline, a free and confidential treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) meant to serve individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

If you’re like me and find that you cannot quiet the worries and anxieties that play in your head, click the link here to access a variety of shareable resources for Anxiety disorders made available by the National Institute of Mental Health.

By coming to our page, you have already proven you are a fighter. It is easy to believe we must suffer in silence alone; it takes incredible strength to reach out and ask for help. If you want someone to talk to but the resources I have provided scare you, my contact information can be found in the “About Me” section of this site. Any and all email correspondence will remain completely confidential. You do not have to go through this alone. Please reach out.

3 thoughts on “From Darkness toward Dawn

  1. Joe – thank you for showing us a bit about yourself, and your transparency. It’s so gratifying when people are honest about their truth. Your words helped me, and I’m sure many others.

    Like

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