I’m in the dark place. I’ve been here for about a month, and it is steadily getting worse. The last time I was in the dark place like this was a year ago, almost to the date. It was during the presidential election, and I stopped sleeping for two weeks. When I say I stopped sleeping, I mean I didn’t sleep. Like, at all. I’d lay awake in bed and stare up at the ceiling. I heard noises when there weren’t noises and saw shapes and movement out of the corner of my eyes during the greater part of each day. I cried because I felt hopeless — over my own life and the fate of the country.
But after two weeks, some emergency phone calls with my therapist and psychiatric nurse, I went on the mend. My walks in the fall Florida sun became longer. I started sleeping again, even if I couldn’t stay asleep all night.
I moved slowly out of the dark place I know so well and back into the light.
The first time I hit the dark place, I was in the sixth grade. I spent three weeks in a funk where my brain refused to work. My biting humor went away, replaced with a sullen despair that hung over everyone who was around me. Most days, I dreamed about what it would be like to die. I didn’t want to take walks after school. I didn’t want to play basketball or write. At home, I curled under the sheets of my bed and watched Saturday Night Live reruns without laughing. What was there to laugh about? Life was cruel and never getting better.
When I was in that place, I didn’t like myself. My good traits were muted, and my bad ones were all right out in the open. I snapped at my friends, ignored my teachers, stopped doing homework, and just generally tried to make everyone around me as miserable as I was feeling inside.
A teacher finally snapped me out of it. “Nobody is gonna be nice to you if you go around acting like that,” she told me. And she was right. What I wanted was some love. Some help. But when it never came, I decided it was up to me to climb out. Nobody was going to see the darkness I was experiencing or help me. It was something I needed to do alone.
My worst time in the dark place was when I was twenty-six and living in the Keys. I spent five months in the darkness. I dove so deep I wasn’t sure I could crawl my way back out. My…