A 14-year-old student in my school district tragically lost her battle with The Deep Darkness recently. Last week was National Suicide Prevention Week and this post has been muddling around in my brain since then, because perhaps some of you are in The Deep, too.
I’ve learned a few things about The Deep Darkness over the years, and here’s what I can tell you: It’s not fair, but you can make your own light, until sometimes you can’t.
The deep darkness, it’s not fair. Some people spend their whole lives down there, fruitlessly rubbing sticks together in hopes of just a spark of reminder that the world is not all dark and closed in, while some people spend most of their lives walking about in daylight, unaware of the existence of The Deep Darkness. They can turn on a flashlight and strike a match and create a whole bonfire of light, but they don’t even need it because the sun is already shining. It’s not fair, but that means it’s also not your fault when you’re stuck in The Dark. No one chooses The Deep Darkness, and no hard work guarantees the light will come on.
But you can make your own light. You can get some exercise and eat a healthy meal (maybe even take an evening off and cook it yourself!), get lost in a good book and spend some time outside and unplugged. You can find someone to talk to, even better if they’re a professional and familiar with the landscape of The Deep Darkness. You can take your pills and tell the truth and ask for help and get enough sleep. These are the torches down in The Deep Darkness that can flame for days, and sometimes you can use one torch to light another, and then another, until you’ve found your way back to the sunlight and leave The Deep Darkness behind for a time.
Until sometimes, you can’t. Sometimes you strike all of the usual matches and lift high all of the torches you can find and nothing lights, and you have to spend another day in the darkness despite your best efforts. Those days are darker, I think, than the days of giving up in the darkness. Because there are always days of wallowing in the darkness, of waiting for the lights to turn themselves back on. Those days are dark, yes, but there’s always the thought that maybe tomorrow you’ll find the energy to strike a match and maybe that match will lead you out of The Deep.
But the days when you fruitlessly try every light switch that has worked before and all of the flashlights are out of batteries, those are the darkest days.
And when one hopeless dark day is followed by another, that’s when it begins to feel like The Deep Darkness is perhaps all there is. You remember that there were other people who talked about light, but perhaps they were uniquely qualified to find it. For you, there is only, ever, The Deep Darkness.
It becomes a lot easier to lose the battle with The Deep Darkness on those days. Because as far as you’re concerned, you’ve already lost.
But here’s the most important thing I’ve learned about the light: Other people can bring light into your Deep Darkness.
I’m going to say it again, because this is important: When you can’t make your own light and you can’t even remember what light looks like, call out for help and people will come running. I know, you’ve probably never met anyone else down in The Deep Darkness. That’s part of the deal down there, that you’re alone fighting this off and striking flint and steel until your fingers bleed.
But some of the people, even the ones up there in the light, they’ll grab their flashlights and come running into The Deep Darkness to find you if you tell them where you are. I know, it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t know why they would leave the light to come into your Deep Darkness with you, except that they love you, and that is light enough for them.
You’ll feel like you’re dragging them down, putting out their light, burdening them and annoying them. I want you right now to feel those fears, and let them go. Love makes its own light. They are coming because they love you, and that light will not go out. You are not dragging them down or burdening them. Love makes its own light. Every time. You are worth it.
I mean it. There is light out there, and it is for you, and you are worth helping, and if you ask for it, someone will come.
You can send up a massive smoke signal or simply type “Help” into a text message and they will come. They can’t make the darkness go away, and they can’t always lead you out, but you would be amazed how many people will willingly walk into the darkness and sit down with you there holding their torch high for as long as you need.
If you’re in The Deep Darkness and the matches aren’t lighting (or even if they are) tell someone. Tell the truth, tell how Deep and Dark and terrifying it is.
If you don’t know who to tell, there are people who are trained and waiting to spread their light in The Deep. Here are some ways to get in touch with them:
Text “Start” to 741-741
There is light whether or not you believe in it. Asking for help may be the scariest thing you ever do, but there is light and it is worth fighting for.
And Love makes its own light.
Photo by Ankur Sharma, via flickr.