Let’s admit it, depression is the greatest challenge for those who choose to not be in a relationship and who spend a lot of time alone. Depression can be the deepest and darkest place imaginable, and we all go there sometimes. It is like being in a black tunnel with no light at the end, a tunnel that feels like it will never end. You are lost in the dark, swimming in misery. Worries and anxieties overwhelm you. You worry about that friend’s lack of response to your text or email. Are they mad at you? You worry that seemingly disconnected events revolve around you – that people are avoiding you. All of the things that you have ever done in your past, all the things that you feel bad about, come back to attack you – with claws and teeth in the dark, they blame you and shame you. There seems to be no escape.
For some reason, when you are in that dark tunnel, all you want to do are the things that make it worse. You want to drink or drug yourself to numb the pain and to find some relief. You are afraid to reach out, because you seriously doubt anybody’s affection for you. So you stay home and you isolate yourself more, only to get caught up deeper into the spiral of negative thoughts. It becomes an endless cycle that gets more and more difficult to break free from.
I say to you that to get out of this place, you need to be a fighter. When you are feeling this way, you need to fight like hell to find a way out. You can do it! Even though you don’t have any strength, you need stand (or crawl) forward. The tunnel may be long and dark, but there are secret side passages just up ahead, with little tiny holes in the wall where small rays of light shine in. Find one, sit in it for a bit, and breath in the light. If that is all you can do today, then consider it a victory – but you need to keep moving, inch by inch, forward – from one small ray of light to the next.
As I dictate this, I’m sitting in my car. I didn’t want to leave the house. I wanted to curl up and give in to the darkness. But I am forcing myself to get out of the house and to go running. I know that running is a life-giving activity for me, a healing activity. It is my tiny side passage with a small ray of light. At least I hope that’s the case today.
As I was running, a person who I know only remotely drove by and turned. In that turn, he had to wait for me to run across the road in front of him. His face registered recognition, and he smiled. Holy cow, that smile went straight to my aching heart. It was like electricity. He drove on, and he never knew the effect he had on me, but that one smile made all the difference.
There is power in human connection that can break us free of the dark tunnel of depression. Getting out among people is super important. Go to a coffee shop, to a park, to a zoo, to the beach – anywhere there are other people. Make eye contact. Look for others that seem isolated and who need a smile. People heal people. Become a healer for others and in the process, heal yourself.
I know that it is not simple – but people DO care.
Reach out for their hands, or their smiles, in the darkness.