Once There Was A Darkness

by Susan Pogorzelski on January 5, 2011 · 21 comments

I’m so tired
but I can’t sleep,
standing on the edge of something
much too deep…

I’ve been inexplicably exhausted the past few days, a fatigue that fogs the mind and makes me want to retreat back inside, away from the cold weather, away from the early-setting sun, away from the world…back inside to comfort. I’m trying to remember the last time I felt this way, but I can’t. No, that’s not true…I do remember when, just not exactly how it felt. And maybe that’s something good, maybe that’s a secret blessing — the fact that with time, the memory fades, and though you know you experienced it, you also know you got through it and now it seems so far away.

I’m not making sense, I know I’m not.

Where am I going with this?

It’s funny how we feel so much
but we cannot say a word…

Things have been great. Better than great, actually, and while once upon a time I would have wondered when that other shoe would drop, when that happiness would be taken away, while I would have questioned if I was even deserving of it, I’ve come to appreciate it while I have it. Still, while I am full of sincere smiles and teasing laughter, while I finally feel more me than I have in a very long time, I feel like there’s something else lurking there, hidden under layers of positive thinking and happiness.

Maybe it’s just that it’s winter and the early nights have me wanting to curl up in bed and dream away the day, longing to hibernate for just a little while; maybe I’m still in that reflective stage, overwhelmed by the changes, craving my solitude so that I can think, process, imagine, and only then can I act…

There’s so much I want to say…So much I want to say right now and I don’t know how to say it.

For New Years, I went to a friend’s house for a party. There was such a huge part of me that wanted to stay home, but I didn’t, I went, and I had a blast, becoming even closer with my friend in the process. As 2010 rolled into 2011, I had vowed to myself that I would embrace this next year — I would open myself up to opportunity, go forward with my dreams, and finally, finally, break down my wall that has always been standing strong with even my closest friends.

That wall has come crashing down.

I’m refusing to build it back up.

I’m opening up, becoming more comfortable with myself and this world around me, and in that process trying to reach out to the people who mean so much to me. I know I hold back, I know I come across as reserved and shy, and as honest as I am on this blog, as friendly as I am in person and how I am an open book if you would only ask, I also close myself off until I’m certain I won’t be hurt. A defense-mechanism, if you will. But not against heartache and not against mistrust…against loss. That one fear that I don’t think will ever escape me, though I’m learning, I’m learning…I’m always learning.

So afraid to love you,
but more afraid to lose…

So I can feel these changes going on inside of me as happiness kicks the darkness down and light bubbles to the surface. But still I wonder if I’ll ever really escape it, if it will ever go away or just remain buried. I can’t help but wonder if it will remain a memory or if I’ll feel it consume me as it did some months ago, to a point that I’ve never been able to admit in this online space before.

Until today. Until I read posts by Grace and Jenny and Brandy and realized how similar we all are — all of us, every single one of us in this world.

Last year, depression pulled me under. I talked about it openly on this blog as I was going through it, but never shared the depths to which it affected me, barely touching the surface of how far under I’d gone.

Depression.

I’d never used that term before here, either…It feels like there’s such a stigma attached to it, it feels like such a dirty word that can’t even begin to describe the very real emotional hell one can go through.

Once there was a darkness,
deep and endless night…

Like Jenny, and as I wrote in an email to her after reading her remarkable post, writing was my salvation; friends and family were the buoy to which I clung; Riley was my saving grace.

And this blog…This blog was that bit of light that eased out the darkness.

I was afraid then. I’ve been afraid all of my life, that fear manifesting itself into an anxiety disorder that threatened to paralyze my life until I fought back and pushed forward. But not for the first time, and I wonder if not for the last, I was afraid of life.

It’s another fact I’ve never admitted aloud — to anyone — before today. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be ready for whatever life threw my way, I was afraid of loving people because I desperately didn’t want to lose them.

But, what’s more, back then, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find my way out of that darkness.

Oh,Β  I did. When you have a source of light, you hold onto it for all that it’s worth until that light grows ever-brighter, until it spills over. That’s what I did — I wrote feverishly in my journal, spilling thoughts that scared the hell out of me, but needing to get them out, so poisonous did they feel; I fell sobbing into my mom and dad’s arms and hugged Riley until his fur was soaked with tears; I showed up to work every day I could because I needed to be responsible, needed to have that purpose; and I talked with friends who were in a similar place as me, lending that light to them, realizing that helping them, someway, somehow, was healing me.

I gave you everything I had,
Oh, I gave you light…

I can’t say for sure when or how things changed, but I can feel it every single day. And I can feel that I’m still changing with every moment. There are times when I want to hide away, but I know now that’s more my reflective nature than an escape, and while the fear still resides, I’m realizing that it has only served as an unnecessary blockade to everything that’s important to me:

Learning. Loving.

Living.

I can’t know what the future has in store, can’t prepare for it as that part of me wants to, can’t control it though that would make it all so much easier.

It’s not meant to be easy.

And I can’t promise myself that I won’t fall into a depression again — as someone who is sensitive and feels everything so acutely, I know that doesn’t pertain to just the good.

But I can promise to keep trying to open up, to show my loved ones how much I value them, to be me — always me, all of me. I can promise to keep fighting that fear and pushing through when it threatens to hold me back.

I can promise to always hold onto that light.

And if ever anyone needs it, we’ll cast the darkness away…

Together.

Note: Please check out Grace, Jenny, and Brandy’s blog posts — they are incredible women with amazing stories and a huge source of inspiration. My most heartfelt gratitude to them for giving me the strength to verbalize what I hadn’t been able to before…

Grace: Fear Is Part of Staying Alive
Jenny: Dancing With Demons and Finding the Light
Brandy: The End of 201

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam Karol January 5, 2011

This is beautiful, Susan, and so brave of you to put it all out there. I know that darkness all too well. For years, I tried to fight it on my own, tried to ignore it, until I finally said “enough is enough,” and spoke up. I’ll be honest and say that medication helps the anxiety, and keeps panic at a minimum. I’m definitely not one of those people that believes meds can fix, or are a solution, to everything, but sometimes they’re exactly what one person needs. The truth is, I can’t keep the darkness at bay on my own, I’ll admit that freely. But, I want so badly to bury it deep in the ground so it can’t find its way out. We both deserve all the light in the world, and lives that are full of happiness, smiles, and laughter. However we do it, we can force the darkness out, and we will. xo

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Susan Pogorzelski January 6, 2011

Thanks, Sam. There’s no way I could have done it on my own — I, too, had the help of a support system, as well as made the decision to go see a therapist for a few months and go back on medication. I agree that meds aren’t the cure, but they certainly be a part of the solution. You can’t do everything on your own — and maybe you’re not supposed to. And it got to a point for me where I became desperate and turned to my mom and said, simply, “I need help.” Especially when you’re so far down that you can’t see your way out, sometimes that’s exactly what needs to be said.

I’m so glad that your panic is at a minimum…I wish that we could rid each other of that darkness completely, but now I’m beginning to wonder if it doesn’t serve as a reminder, to keep you fighting…Either way, at least it’s held at bay.

You are full of light, Sam. Don’t you ever forget it. Lots of love.

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Vanessa January 6, 2011

You write beautifully and with such honesty – I was enthralled through your entire piece. I think sometimes it can be difficult to write about the hard stuff in the moment, because we haven’t had a chance to ruminate and digest the experience. You need to come past it to be able to disclose it I find. I’m happy to heart you are in a better place! If you fall back into it, you got out once you can do it again! PS my most poignant, memorable moments were due to good solid, soul crushing cries that made me feel hungover the next day πŸ™‚

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Susan Pogorzelski January 6, 2011

Vanessa: Thank you so much for reading and for your comment! Confession: I sneaked over to your blog, saw that Paris is your favorite city, and immediately I want to have a conversation with you! You have a lovely blog, and I’m looking forward to reading more!

You’re absolutely right in that it’s so difficult to write things in the moment, but at the same time, it’s where I find the most catharsis. During last year’s depression, I frequently took to my journal to write out everything I was feeling in an attempt to figure out why, and by the end of the entries, not only was I feeling better, but I noticed a change in tone in that there was hope there. I think I kind of held onto that through it all. But looking back at the entries now, so many months later, the difference is nothing short of remarkable, now I can look back objectively and understand things that I hadn’t understood then.

Amazing what both feeling in the moment and a little bit of perspective can offer πŸ˜‰

Thanks once again for your comment!

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Positively Present January 6, 2011

Amazing post, Susan. I too read Jenny Blake’s post and was so moved by it. I could relate to so much of what she said — and so much of what you said too. Thank you so much for sharing your story here.

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Susan Pogorzelski January 6, 2011

Thanks so much, Dani. This post was probably the easiest to write and the hardest to publish, though I can’t quite figure out how that’s supposed to work. The girls provided so much inspiration in their own light and strength, so I owe a lot to them. And to you, who provides so much positivity constantly, reminding us of everything good. Thank you.

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Grace Boyle January 6, 2011

Like I said, in response to your wonderful blog comment on my post about fear, I love your words. The good, the bad and the ugly are part of who we are – forever. And I commend you for writing and sharing.

So many of us feel this way, maybe many times throughout our life, maybe just once but the feeling is there. Thanks for sharing your story πŸ™‚

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Susan Pogorzelski January 6, 2011

Grace — thank you for being an inspiration and a source of strength for this post. Who knew that what seems like a simple blog post could provide so much? And yet, maybe that’s the power of writing. Life is hard, I definitely don’t want to understate that, but all of it is what makes us who we are and keeps us moving forward.

And while I know I’m going to have my moments, while I know that fear won’t ever completely go away, I also know that I can fight it. That we can always fight it.

Thanks again, Grace…It truly means so much.

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Diana Antholis January 6, 2011

Hi Susan,
This is a beautiful piece. You are already there by recognizing what you want to do. Believe in yourself. Really and truly believe how awesome you are.
Break that wall and keep it down girl!
Diana πŸ™‚

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wassan September 6, 2011

“It’s funny how we feel so much
but we cannot say a word…”
its funny how true this sentence is, i have all these feelings that are battling up inside me, i feel so much pain and agony inside and i just can’t speak about it or even write about it, when ever i try to let it go out of my system i just feel like they are blocked deep inside refusing to let me go , i wish if i could just let it all out, im reading your posts and i feel like your saying exactly what i need to say, like your living in my head, and i feel relieved …
i just wanna thank your for sharing this , you are an inspiration for me, and i love you so much….

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