By Natalie Daines
Author of this month’s blog post
When I was a child I admired the people who lived in the Dark Ages. How did they live in a world without a sun? Did they farm by candlelight? It must have been constantly cold! By now you probably see my misunderstanding. I thought it was literally dark, all the time! But, seriously, life can get really dark emotionally. And sometimes it stays dark for a long time. I’ve been there. These past couple years have been really difficult for me.
Over the course of a few months in 2021 my social anxiety, depression, and eating disorder all got steadily worse. My world slowly became darker and darker. After wandering in the dark for a while, I lost hope. I wanted to give up. More than anything I wanted to feel happiness and joy again. But I saw nothing in front of me and nothing behind me. There was only darkness. I thought I was completely alone.
Then, I reached out for help (which was absolutely terrifying, but worth it). I still felt despair for most of 2021 and 2022, but because I asked for help it got me onto a path of healing. It also led me to be evaluated for and diagnosed as autistic, which helped me understand some things about myself. I’m still recovering, but I’m doing a lot better.
There have been several things that have helped me.
One, therapy. There is no way I could have started eating well again without therapy. Now I am eating again and have learned some helpful skills for emotion regulation.
Two, a good support system. I am so grateful for the wonderful people I have in my life who never gave up on me, even when I felt that I had given up on myself.
Three, medication. This part of my path has been incredibly difficult, but medicine is a really important healing tool for me. I was prescribed more than a dozen psychiatric medicines trying to find one that I wasn’t allergic to (some caused me to experience delusions and increased the intensity and frequency of suicidal thoughts). Thankfully, I have a beneficial medicine now.
Four, exercise. For me, this means JUMPING! Words cannot express how much I love jumping. I have always bounced and jumped, because it both grounds me and lets me express emotion the way nothing else can. It’s as necessary for me as breathing.
I think the future is going to be ok. I still have dark days. Sometimes anxiety seems to take over. But I don’t think the pain will last forever. I believe that life is worth fighting for, even when it’s painful and difficult. I believe that I am strong and determined, even when I feel insecure. And as sure as there’s night, I believe that there’s light, even when I can’t see it.