How to Heal Depression by Making Friends with the Dark
“Truly, it is in the darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.”
I used to live in the light with my positive attitude, manifestations, and affirmations.
It’s the place where we avoid the negative, or risk attracting more of the same. It’s where we are applauded by society when we stand up quickly and get over it!
I lived there –a smiling shell.
Until I started to fall.
The plunge was forceful, like being dragged by the hair down a flight of rickety stairs.
And there was no positive affirmation to get me out of this one.
My body was demanding I pay attention by forcing me to meet my 3-Year-old self who lived alone in the dark beneath the surface.
Down on my knees, I found terror, sadness, and shame—a stark contrast from the life I had created for myself — the one in the light.
But, I would soon discover that that life was hollow.
It was Empty.
And I was numb.
How Rejecting the Dark can Lead to Numbness, Depression, and Anxiety
We are told to stay positive. But, these two words can be dangerous! Only allowing ourselves to feel positive emotions requires us to repress our negative feelings, such as hurt, sadness, and loneliness.
You see, our society has normalized the repression of uncomfortable feelings.
We eat them instead or binge-watch T.V.
But we lose ourselves when we only stay positive. In time, we can become so disconnected that we’re incapable of recognizing how we feel.
Incapable of genuine emotional connection.
Incapable of vulnerability.
We become numb.
Studies have found that we pay a high cost for this short-term relief. For avoidance will lessen the pain, but in time, it can morph and expand into anxiety and depression. According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, acceptance of negative emotions are “linked to greater psychological health.”
And so it makes sense that if avoiding the dark leads to depression and anxiety, then surely, by turning around to face the dark, we can heal depression and anxiety.
What Happens When You Make Friends with the Dark
While in the dark, I let myself crumble. At first, it was scary, but in time, my ability to feel deepened, tears flowed more easily and often.
In the past, I would have mistaken this vulnerable mess for weakness, but that was before glimpsing the beautiful storm beneath.
For alongside the terror and pain, I also found intense waves of love and compassion. These emotions were difficult to contain and activated a force in me — one that hurt so deeply for humanity. This journey was isolating, yet I felt more connected than ever before. I felt full, and maybe that’s because I was allowing all energy and emotion in — the light and the dark.
And it was in the dark that I finally began to heal my depression.
I’ve since learned that strength is not standing quickly after a fall, nor is it slapping a brave smile on my face. It is the opposite. It is daring to free-fall into the abyss. And choosing to sit in the darkroom with those uncomfortable feelings.
I’m thankful my body knew what to do.
I’m thankful it forced me to sink into the dark.
For I found meaning and purpose in the dark, which led to the obliteration of my life. I left my partner of 10 years, not just for me, but for him. I started to focus on an exit strategy from my 11-year career. And I followed the pull to write. These weren’t easy decisions, and at the age of 34, meant I might not have a family of my own. I moved forward anyway, accepting whatever the outcome. I was finally able to feel, and this meant that I couldn’t fight the urgent need to change my life — to be alone — to dive into the dark.
It was no longer a scary place.
I had found something beautiful there, dare I say — comforting.
How to Reconnect With Yourself and Stop Avoiding Uncomfortable Feelings
Feeling and expressing your emotions is critical to your mental health and well-being. “You need to pay attention to your internal experience,” says Ford.
Don’t fight the dark with positive thoughts, affirmations, and manifestations. Instead, meet your pain with kindness and compassion.
Your pain is beneath the surface; some find it by talking to a friend while others need to sit alone. You can let your feelings flow through a pen in the form of written words. Or you can allow your emotions to flow through you with tears. Explore, identify and acknowledge your feelings and then follow them to find the cause.
Don’t judge yourself.
Spending time in the dark does not make you a negative, pessimistic person. Our emotions and experiences are fluid. Life gives us both joys, and pain and the key is to let their energies flow through you like waves.
I hope you make friends with the dark.
I hope you find peace.
And I hope it helps to heal your depression, too!
Let me know what you think! Have you had a similar experience? Leave a comment or share your story here.
Feature photo by Dimitris Pantos
Photo two by Luizclas