“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Things tend to fall apart for me when the weather starts to get cooler, in the end of October, beginning to mid-November. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the fact that JJ and Wayne died at the beginning of November. Maybe it’s the Amena got murdered then. Maybe these events set me up for a perpetual cycle of sadness. And after that, it was me breaking up with Daniel. Then the next year Seth cheating on me, and me breaking up with him. And then a couple years later, Jason breaking up with me.
Maybe the accumulation of so much sadness did something to my body. It gave me a sense of fight or flight. It became a trigger, something that made my body involuntarily begin to panic at the same time each year.
I’ve often wondered if I have SAD (seasonal affective disorder). It’s something that plagues many people around the world. But I don’t know if it’s possible when so many bad things happen at the same time every year, like I’m stuck on a merry-go-round that I can’t get off of, unless I’m being thrown, only for me to get sucked right back on again like a recurring nightmare. I try to break this cycle, but year after year something happens to put me back on it.
This year was no different. Something happened. But I made a change, I didn’t let the sadness take away my happiness. I gave it about of week. I let it take hold of me and shove me into my dark place, the place I go where I can’t breathe, eat, move. I let it grip my throat so tightly I couldn’t speak. I let it drown me until my head felt like it would burst.
And then, I pushed back.
I told myself that the sadness wasn’t worth it. I stayed patient. I didn’t let love and happiness get too far away before I wrangled them back in.
Depression is a battle. It can make you feel defeated, but it can also make you feel like a warrior.
Things are better now. Great, even. The sadness I was experiencing has been replaced with a new kind of happiness, one that feels truer than before. I don’t feel crippled by grief in the way I was before, unable to let anyone touch me, or let them into my sadness. I don’t want to cry as often as I was. I don’t feel guilty for smiling and enjoying the life that I have, even if it’s on a different path now than it was a month ago.
I know that I can be my own light, but that having another help me light up the room is okay too. Asking for help, showing people your darkness… that doesn’t make you weak. I have felt the kind of love and support that I’ve needed for so long.
Happiness is fleeting, so I’ll soak this up and let it fill me with hope. I won’t question it. I won’t pressure it. I’ll simply let it be. And when the world turns dark again, I’ll be able to handle it, because I’ve finally seen what the other side of grief looks like, and it won’t feel so hard to get back there.
“When you come out of the grips of a depression there is an incredible relief, but not one you feel allowed to celebrate. Instead, the feeling of victory is replaced with anxiety that it will happen again, and with shame and vulnerability when you see how your illness affected your family, your work, everything left untouched while you struggled to survive. We come back to life thinner, paler, weaker … but as survivors. Survivors who don’t get pats on the back from coworkers who congratulate them on making it. Survivors who wake to more work than before because their friends and family are exhausted from helping them fight a battle they may not even understand. I hope to one day see a sea of people all wearing silver ribbons as a sign that they understand the secret battle, and as a celebration of the victories made each day as we individually pull ourselves up out of our foxholes to see our scars heal, and to remember what the sun looks like.”
― Jenny Lawson,