“Be the light” is my personal mantra.
It is derived from Matthew 5:14, which begins “You are the light of the world..,” and it is a simple reminder of how I want to approach each day.
I love life. I love living.
But there was a time that I didn’t.
There was a time I couldn’t even think of being a light. I couldn’t see the light. But oh, how I needed a light.
Despite what things looked like on the outside, on the inside I was filled with dread and anxiety. These feelings got so overwhelming that I decided if I had to live the rest of my life like that, I’d prefer not to live at all. I spent more time sleeping than I’d like to admit, and the world around me became one big blur. I knew things had got pretty bad for me when I stopped wanting to see my son. I’m not sure if it was the guilt of being so emotionally unavailable or the confusion of knowing that he was such a source of joy but not understanding why I was unable to feel it. Maybe it was a combination of the two. Whatever it was, it hurt to see him and the pain was unexplainable. I study “why” both by nature and by training, so to be unable to explain my pain only deepened it.
There is such a strange stigma around mental health. Many men won’t admit that they are suffering because of the undesired perception of weakness, and many women won’t admit that they are suffering because we are written off as being “too emotional.”
Depression is not an emotion – it is a chemical imbalance in the brain.
If there is something wrong with a person’s heart, no one is going to stigmatize visiting a cardiologist. So why do we judge people who have something wrong with their brain chemistry? Depression has nothing to do with strength and weakness, and it is not discriminatory; it can affect anyone.
I’ve heard it said that suicide is selfish, but if you have never had the misfortune of experiencing this illness, you cannot possibly understand how dark it can get in a person’s mind. Suicide not only gives the impression that your own pain will finally come to an end, but that all of the people you love will also be freed from the inconvenience of your emptiness. Suicide is an all too convincing illusion for the sick.
I am (clearly) not a doctor or an expert of any kind. I am aware that there are many factors that contribute to depression and that there are many methods of working towards healing. As for me, I began paying attention to what I had been putting into my body and correlating it with how long I had been feeling sick. Long story short, I learned that I have an incredibly high intolerance to synthetic hormones. If you are a woman and believe you are depressed, I urge you to take a look at your birth control method and talk to your doctor. If you believe you might be depressed, regardless of the reason, I urge you to seek support. There is hope.
Everyone is different. Some people will need medicine to help them, and some will not. Antidepressants made me very sick- like nearly passing out in a bathroom type of sick. Take time to learn which method of treatment is best for you. After regulating my hormones, I was able to get to a healthy mental state which then allowed me to begin my soul work, which pushed me further toward healing.
Nowadays, I still think about death, but not in a morbid way. I let my human experience remind me that I am here only temporarily. I think of how I want to be remembered and if what I’m doing now is in alignment with that.
At the end of my life, I hope someone will say that in the darker parts of their life, I made them feel like brighter days were still possible.
There is a quote that calls us to be kind, as everyone is fighting an unseen battle. In today’s world, this could not be more true. I challenge you to think about how you can be more kind, more loving, more understanding, and more forgiving…not only to others, but also to yourself. Even if you are currently in the darkness, remember that you are a candle. Even a very dimly lit candle has the power to light another candle. Imagine if we all made it a point to lend our light to ensure that more candles burned brightly.
Be the light. Be a positive presence in this world.
You may never know to whose prayers your life will be the answer.