For months I was alone in my own darkness. I had slipped into something so impenetrably dense that I didn’t know I could even move, let alone escape it. I feared I was irreparably damaged – my heart annihilated and life hopelessly sad. I would sit alone for hours, in quiet despair, too tired and ashamed to look for help. I had given up, as if my entire existence was filled with an incurable disease. As Joan Didion said in The Year of Magical Thinking, “The power of grief to derange a mind has been exhaustively noted.” And that’s what had happened to me – my mind became unhinged and I had no concept of reality – no concept of the goodness that was flowing all around me.
I have been changed.
When you stand on the edge of life and contemplate a jump, it is impossible to come back uninterrupted. My mind and heart will never be what they were. I will never again know the safety of a life untouched by mental illness. I will never not remember what it felt like to plan a death – to write letters to my family and closest friends, to think about what would happen to my things, my dog, my body. I will always know how easy it felt to decide it was the end – that it felt better than whatever life had left for me. I will never be able to shake the memory of that hell.
Remembering, however, is important on the journey to win myself back.
I remember the depth of that grave I’d been digging. I remember how hard I worked to climb out and walk away. I remember the painful fight to start shedding a thick husk of shame and self-hatred. I remember my soul dwelling in the darkness before, one day, I found some determination to ride out the journey through hell and rise up.
I remember looking for directions on how to get better. I researched and questioned, Googled and read. Nothing helped – there were no answers to be found. My spiritual beliefs left me with no solid answers of how to handle this situation. I wanted a teacher – I just wanted someone to tell me exactly what to do, what to say and how to behave. I wanted it all to be perfect; RIGHT. But this was my journey, Linsey’s path, not some generic tread stretched before me. It was new ground, broken only as I traveled it – each new step, one foot in front of the other. There was no easy answer, regardless of how much I begged and even prayed for them. I knew that I was the only one who could save me and, like John of the Cross, “I had no light to guide but the fire that burned inside my chest.” I was the only one who could guide me back home.