This time of year has always been complicated for me. I love autumn and what it brings: the crispness of the air, the dramatic twilight skies and the spooky vibe of All Hallows Eve when the veil between the earthly realm and the spirit world thins.
But the waning light also brings out the darkness in my soul. I become more introspective, more sensitive, more broody … welcome back darkness my old friend.
I don’t know how it sneaks up on me every time. You would think after decades of intimacy with the darkness, I would know the signs immediately. But it doesn’t work like that. It is silent and insidious and stealthy. It is like one moment you are in a room with sunshine and light, and ever so slowly the light begins to dim. So imperceptible that at first you don’t notice how dark it is getting.
When the realization hits, I think “I’ve got this, it is just a bump in the road, I’ll shake it off.” Then one day of struggling to get out of bed, get to work and function as a normal human being becomes many days… and BAM! Welcome back old friend.
There is heaviness in my soul, a slight erratic beat in my heart, fogginess in my brain that can no longer be denied. It’s here. And now that it has so slowly consumed my body right down to the cellular level, it is like a virus that keeps spreading, with no hope of slowing down until it has invaded every atom of my very being.
How long will it stay? Dunno. Never do. So I’ll do what I always do when the darkness has smothered all the light. Put on an award winning performance and pretend to be a normal, functioning human until it loosens it’s death grip.
Each time I get this severely depressed, though, I have a little bit more experience, a little bit more grace, a little bit more perspective. And I will get through it. I always do.
Bu, this time, I think, instead of being ashamed, instead of being self-critical, instead of fighting it, I will take a different approach. I will practice more self-compassion and more understanding.
This darkness, it is a part of me. And this time, I will not ignore it or try to tamp it down. I will welcome it as just one more part of me, even if no one else can understand that depression is like a mighty sword. It might be a double-edged one for sure, but I will use it to fight, to practice loving kindness for myself and others, and to hack my way out of the dark room back towards the light.
But I don’t want the shadows to completely disappear. After all, darkness, we are old friends; and honestly, I couldn’t imagine my life without you.