Out of the Darkness

By John W. Vander Velden

I have not been afraid of the dark since I was very small. I recall when I was moved to a larger bed and a room upstairs, that my parents left the hall light on for my benefit. But like I said, that was a long time ago. Of course it would be easy to understand fear of darkness for we all are afraid of what we cannot see, and many things could be lurking within the shadows.

But there are other types of darkness that have the potential to engulf us. And this pitch does not evaporate with the movement of a light switch. There are those that endure within blackness of depression which attempts to suck all the light out of their lives. Many live beneath the stigma of fear and misunderstanding of the condition, and never seek the help they desperately need.

Often those closest to them have no idea of the weight depression places upon their love ones…or the danger. For there are those that live within that blackness who find themselves spiraling downward into a pit whose walls are so slippery that upward movements seem impossible. For them each day is a time of hopelessness and pain. For some the only escape, they may see from this blackness, is suicide.

Their pain is not imaginary. It is not something they can simply ignore. In many cases it is not something that will simply fade with time. And it is not caused by a lack of faith.

Depression is real!

But for many there is help, but it begins with understanding. For those who are near and dear to the depressed are often first to deny its existence. They close their eyes until it becomes too late, then stand confused about the causes of the tragedy that has unfolded at their feet. There are many of those within the darkness that do not recognize the condition they themselves deal with each day.

I do not write these words as a spectator, for I am a participant in the continuous struggle I face. For years I did not recognize or understand the darkness that came and went, the hopelessness, the mental anguish, I lived through. I will not go into the depths of the pit I found myself, or the solutions I considered at those moments within the pitch. It is enough to say that things changed and the darkness has faded. But it never disappeared.

At last someone coaxed me to seek help.

Now I stand in the light, or close enough that I feel its warm optimism. Yet the dark shadows are close enough that I remain constantly diligent, aware of how easily things can tumble in ways unwanted.

Why am I bold enough to admit to this weakness? This disease? Because of the stigma that depression and all forms of mental illness carries opens me to ridicule. But how do others find the courage, and it does take incredible courage, to seek the help they need, if I and others do not step forward and say, “I deal with chronic depression…there is hope.”

I have not reached this place on my own. I have not found the courage to live on my own. I owe much to those near me that saw the depth of my illness before I could fully grasp what I was dealing with. Not everyone has the love and support that I was blessed to receive. Open you hearts and arms to help. For each of us know someone, a friend, a loved one, a family member, or a co-worker that is trying to find their way out of the darkness.

(609 Words) 3–20–2022

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John Vander Velden

an avid reader and life long story teller, who approaches life with open eyes, hearing ears, and a heart willing to feel.