Searching for the Faint Hint of Light in the Loneliness of Depression

Over the past few weeks, I have been finding myself in an increasing number of conversations that are thick with heavy emotions. So many people have swallowed their words and their pain about the mental health issues that have ravaged their families and their lives. These individuals seem fine at a glance, but the reality is that they are drowning on the inside. The perfect (and false) vision of life on social media creates a deceiving veil that obscures the pervasive struggles of depression, anxiety, OCD, addiction, and suicide. And if you are dealing with any of those challenges, it can make you feel even more broken when you scroll through the endless joy that seems to be the norm from the vast majority of those around you.

socks

I wanted to get the beach in the pic, but all these darn laundry baskets were in the way. Also I had to get to work, so I couldn’t leave reality to head to the beach. One day, I’m going to take these laundry baskets to the beach. They desperately need a break, too.

Based on the posts and photos you see on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., standard daily life should always include high levels of problem-free and adorable children, fluffy puppies galore, hundreds of birthday wishes from innumerable e-friends (many of whom also leave me contemplating my annual questions of “What does that person look like and how do I know him or her???”), and random pictures of feet taken by lovely pools and beaches (because seeing your feet in the pic really sells me on the beauty of your vacation). And on that note, please stop doing that. I don’t need to see your hobbit feet. I already know that you are there because you took the pic. Including your feet in the shot does not make me say, “Hey, I recognize those hairy toes! You really are there!”

The truth is that life isn’t always smooth sailing, and despite the evidence that you are presented with online, a striking number of those same people are also trying desperately to find their way back to solid mental health. They just don’t talk about it. When you find yourself facing depression, anxiety, OCD, addiction, or suicidal thoughts and actions, you feel so very isolated. You search frantically for any faint hint of light in the darkness of those moments. And when those moments turn from minutes to hours and sometimes from days to years, it truly seems like it will never end. In those times, you feel like no one else has been as messed up as you are right then. If there were Screwed Up Human Olympics, you would run the table at the games and easily pocket the gold, silver, and bronze medals. Team MoJo for the win!

I have lost many friends over the years due to my tendency to go radio silent when I am navigating those rough waters. I disappear and shut people out whenever I am trying to work through challenges that are consuming me. Part of me knows that most wouldn’t judge me for struggling, but another part just won’t allow a public viewing of that much of my raw and utter imperfection (hot mess central, totally unable to cope, emotional tornado action, scared little kid trapped in a less little grown up body – that kind of stuff).

Shutting other people out to limit further emotional damage is a common behavior for people who are hurting. Unfortunately it also happens to be a highly flawed coping mechanism. The reality is that I still miss many of those people that I lost in those times. They never knew why I disappeared, and I could never find the strength to explain what was going on or the right words to fix the hurt after I was in a better place. It’s not my favorite set of experiences to contemplate, but to everything there is a season, and sometimes, you just have to release the past.

Isolating yourself creates a frustrating complication of the issues and ultimately exacerbates the problems. If we could be more honest about our struggles, we would discover that so many other people around us are dealing with the same challenges as well. If we can gather enough courage to speak up when we or our family members are falling down, we would be surprised to learn that our true friends are willing and often able to genuinely assist us.  They keep the conversations going, allow us to see that we are not the only ones having a hard time, get us out of the house and out of the ruts we find ourselves trapped in, and remind us about how totally dorky we are for taking pics of our feet while still completely loving us anyway.

You may be lucky and find a way out of the darkness all by your lonesome, but you don’t have to go that route, and the odds of recovery are wildly better if you seek help from others. Let people into your world. Please note that I did not say, “Drag other people into your world.” If you have to drag them, you are barking up the wrong friend. I’m talking about surrounding yourself with people who are able to hear you and who want to listen in a supportive way. Also do yourself a favor and step away from negative social media. If you go the other direction and find that you are fixated on comparing your life to other people’s fluffy stuff, just remember that you are going to have a hard time finding their “So I totally vomited after my kids saw my husband and me in a terrible fight this morning. I am praying that they stopped crying once they got into school, that my marriage will last, and that my stomach bug goes away soon!” post. No one shows that crap off to the world, but everyone has those days. Those people need your shoulder, too. We all feel excruciatingly deep pain sometimes, and that doesn’t make you broken or weird. It makes you normal.

I know what it feels like to lose hope, but I have found mine again. For anyone who is still searching, I’ve got your back. I have stockpiled more than enough for all of us and know that it can and will get better. The darkness will fade, and your joy will return. You are so important, and you are amazing and perfect just as you are.

Allow those who care about you to hold your hand and your heart. They truly can help you find that faint hint of light in the darkness, and eventually, the light will outshine the darkness altogether. There will still be ups and downs, but life will get dramatically better if you let that happen.

Recognize when you need help, and be honest about what you are going through. Let the people who matter into your world.

Love and light always – Joanna

Faint

AWARD – Tell the Darkness to Get Lost

get lost award

The “Tell the Darkness to Get Lost” award was created to celebrate the rock stars who were kicked in the teeth by life and kept going anyway. It is also for those who inspire me to pick myself back up when I all I want to do is stay down.  It’s my tribute to the bad ass gem of a human I see in you.  You remind me to keep the faith, to keep going, and to never give in to the darkness.  Your light brightens my world and gives me strength to tell the darkness to get lost.  I celebrate you, I thank you, and I adore you.

Rules for accepting the award:

  1.  To me, awards and rules shouldn’t be paired together.  It’s like a great book and a forced book report.  It goes from fun reading to work.  So these are suggestions and ideas.  You do what you feel inspired to do.  If you change it wildly, that’s awesome!  As I said before, you’re a bad ass.  I would love to see what coolness you instill in this, but this whole thing is an optional gig.  You’re a bad ass no matter what.
  2.  Share one thing about you that is funny, interesting, or unique.  Ideally tell something that you haven’t shared before, but again, it’s your call.
  3.  You may display the award or not.  It’s your blog, so I’m not going to dictate website aesthetics.
  4.  You may nominate 5 or more or less other bad asses whom you believe deserve this award.  I don’t know how many I listed below, but I wanted to include countless more.  We all feel inspired by others and sometimes it’s beautiful to tell them how much their words have helped you when you needed it most.
  5.  Tell those people who you have tagged why they matter even if it’s just a word.  Kindness, bravery, resilience, laughter, quirkiness.  Whatever comes to mind.  Just tell them why you thought of them when you decided to share this with them.
  6.  Know how much I genuinely appreciate you.  You matter.  This world is infinitely better because you are in it.

Something about me…  Well, I have recently developed a serious talent for breaking my blog.  In less than a week, I have managed to delete my access, disconnect domains, upgrade downgrade upgrade and sorta downgrade my plan when I should have just stayed where I was, and mess up some of my normally untouchable fonts with “stray code” (uh what is that and how would I have done it?!?).  As a bonus, this is actually the second time I am writing the bottom half of this specific entry because it disappeared.  The last hour is 100% gone from my revisions history.  Even WP support couldn’t find anything.  Apparently I’m a frickin’ magician, too.  Now you see content and then POOF!   It’s gone!

Please note that I struggled greatly with selecting the nominees below because so very many of you bring light into my world.  There just isn’t enough internet to include all of the people I want to award.

Nominations (in no order at all):

https://joyfullyrenewed.wordpress.com/ – Your friendship makes my soul smile.  I could write a book on everything you have taught me.
https://mainepaperpusher.wordpress.com/ – You are like a butterfly with a gentle beautiful kindness that I adore.
https://insidetherainbow.blog/ – You are my sister from another mister.  I laugh and cry with you.
https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.wordpress.com/ – If you are future me, I couldn’t be happier.  And if not, I’ll just have to stick with being inspired by how fab you are.
https://bookreviewsbyshalini.wordpress.com/ – You are Adele and I am Lady Gaga.  What a pair we are!  I’m so thankful for you sweet girl.
https://misifusa.wordpress.com/ – You make everything shine and fine light in the darkest of places.  You spread incredible kindness and bless us all.
https://knockedoverbyafeather.wordpress.com/ – Girl – you’re just kickin’ ass and taking names.  You are raw and real and fan-effin’-tastic.  Hold on.  Write that damn book.  You have a big important story to tell.  You are amazing.  Stick the #@*& around!  😉
https://watchwaitandwitness.com/ – Your teaching stories give me such joy.  You change the world in the very best way by opening little minds and hearts.  You changed mine, too.
https://thisismytruthnow.com/ – My friend with countless names…  Thank you for always finding a kind word and positive note.  I am perpetually in awe of the extensive writing and reading you do everyday, and I truly appreciate that you make time to include me in the mix.  I am thankful for you Jumper.
http://inspirationpie.com/ – You do serve up that inspiration!  I love your journeys, your wisdom, and your sass.
https://magickmermaid.wordpress.com/ – You are a fairy among us.  I adore the way you create magic all around you.  It’s infectious and marvelous (unlike the flu – also infectious but less fab).
https://foodzesty.com/ – On the one hand, you do not get this award because it’s terribly mean to make all that fantastic food while I sit here eating a hot dog.  On the other hand, I think that you are the cat’s pajamas and I can’t help but appreciate you on every level!  😉
https://collie123.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/r-e-m-everybody-hurts/ – You accept people for who they are.  You find beauty everywhere.  You are a kind soul Andrew.
https://carolrolke.com/blog/ – Hello outcast sister of mine!  I am certain that mom misplaced you in the hospital where we were born.  You are amazing.  I so enjoy your clever wit and your wicked smarts.  Keep ruling the world woman!
https://itrippedoverastone.com/ – Your ability to keep your chin up when life is lobbing some mega softballs your way is truly beautiful.
https://roseelaineblog.wordpress.com/ – Do I even need to mention the birds again?  (Clearly yes since I just did!)  You make the world beautiful on many levels.  Never stop painting.  Never stop shining.  I don’t think you could even if you tried.
https://elbycloud.wordpress.com/ – Your stories make me giggle.  Who wouldn’t feel seismic at reading them?!?!?
https://donnaanddiablo.wordpress.com/ – You don’t write on your blog anymore but you should!  Your comments always lift me up.  Thank you my friend.
https://welcometothenursery.wordpress.com/ – You recognize the importance of laughing at all things parenthood and I love that.  Kids – the original comedians.  I love your posts.  It’s like you live in our house, too.
https://readrantrockandroll.com/ – Mischenko – I told you that I was a mess with WordPress!  Hopefully your name will stick on this version!!!  In response to your latest post, reading your blog makes me happy!  I just love it.  You are a reading machine and you gobble up every book under the sun.  It’s like you’re the Flash but for nerds (cool nerds who read).  😉  So sorry about the revision revision revision!  I do adore you!

Thank you so very much to all of you.  You are precious to me.

Joanna

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