Ever since I was very small I’ve fainted. It’s happened so frequently and for so many years that I’ve learned the closing in feeling before it causes me to lose consciousness. The feeling where everything starts to sound really far away and it’s like the ending credits of a movie where the blackness starts from the corners and slowly covers the whole screen. I know how to sit down or lay down and not do anything until that moment passes and so I don't actually black out (anymore.)
I haven't always been able to outsmart it. Like that one time in my mom’s kitchen when I went down and cracked my head against the cupboard, or the time alone in the market in the Philippines I dropped like a bug. Oh, or that time in the Safeway at bible school when I passed out so hard and all the paramedics showed up and ended up just holding me until I was okay because I told them I was a broke college student and couldn't be taken in an ambulance.... but for the most part, I’ve finally learned how to not let those times happen.
But somehow I haven't quite learned how to do that when the dark, cinema screen of depression closes in, just as fast and twice as painfully. Why can’t I seem to learn it and outsmart it the way I can when the darkness starts in on me physically? I haven't learned how to emotionally put my head between my legs and let the oxygen get back to my heart. Instead I sit in the darkness as it closes in and instead of fainting, I’m fully aware of the sadness that sits like a rock on my chest. Instead of losing consciousness, I don’t sleep at all.
I don't know how to get out of the enclosing darkness that is everywhere all at once. Why can’t I learn to be the little girl who is able to find her way out of the constant fainting? Why am I this grown woman still fighting so hard against the depressing moving in faster than the tide and crashing like a wrecking ball into my joy reserves.
Maybe I’ll figure my way out. Maybe I’ll learn through time how to find my way out before I’m swallowed, but for now I’m learning to sit in it - in the utter darkness. I’m learning to finally let other people into it. Not so that they can come in like a fairy tale with shining lights and happy songs and instantly fix it - because, honestly, that doesn't work. Depression doesn't work that way. But what they can do, when they've gone there in themselves enough times, is be able to sit inside the pit of darkness with you, and sing you songs of hope. Or run their fingers through your hair. Or maybe just keep reminding you that you're beautiful and the darkness won’t last forever. They aren’t afraid to sit in the pitch black for as long as it takes.
There is physically nothing I can do to fight through fainting. The harder I try, the worse it gets. The only thing I’ve learned how to do to outsmart it is to wait. To lay down. To curl up in a ball- whatever I have to do to let it pass. The amount of times I’ve left eggs cooking on the stove or a movie playing on the TV, or the water running in the shower, just so I could lay down exactly where I am until the wave passes. So why not the same with this emotional darkness that seems to swallow me? I know for many, medication is highly important, counseling, meditation, yoga, whatever it is, do it. But why don't we talk about it? The stigma is disgusting. There’s no stigma to say, ‘work has been really exhausting lately and I feel worn out.’ Why can’t we be as brutally honest with depression? Like, ‘I don’t know when it came but the darkness swept in like a hurricane last night and I just haven’t quite been able to breathe right or handle anything today. I just want to sit and cry or just run away from everyone and everything.’ Why can’t it be as easily accepted? It’s shameful in our culture and shame thrives by staying in the darkness. When we're able to start talking about the waves of black that crash over us is when the freedom starts. It’s when you find your people who can sit in the despair and overwhelming hopelessness and not make it worse by trying to fix it - they just know. They can sit with you in the darkest places of your own indescribable sadness and never count you as any less of a warrior. But we must be willing to face that part of ourselves first. And admit it to each other. We cannot sit with anyone if we haven’t learned to sit with ourselves.
There is no shame in the darkness. There is no shame in feeling like your entire insides are being washed with hopelessness and a grief that holds absolutely no words. There's no shame in saying 'I can’t do this,' or 'I’m terrified I’ll feel this way forever.' Don't let shame silence you.
More people than not, wrestle through this feeling alone. And I won’t keep being one of them. I know the darkness. I know the soul wrenching feeling of never wanting to get out of bed, the feeling that everything is wrong but no tears can come out, the feeling that...there's no feeling left.
I get it. I still live there quite often.
But you are not alone.
You are beautiful,
and such a real thing in such a hidden world,
and you have nothing to be ashamed of.