by Sandy Warren Jorgenson
The darkness that I have experienced in my life, that I have wrestled with, succumbed to, and eventually overcome, has been such that I have at times felt certain that never would I see the bright light of day again; notably when I lost my father to another family in 2006, and then shortly after I had a baby in early 2013. While the loss of a parent, on this scale, managed to bend and break me, the birth of my daughter brought forth a veritable avalanche of feelings – none of which I immediately realized were actually pulling me down into a trench that I wouldn’t climb out of until right around the time of my daughter’s first birthday.
Motherhood, if you haven’t experienced or imagined, is hard; and nobody gets through those early days unscathed. I spent the first four months postpartum in a steady state of elation – and then slowly and almost unnoticeably, I slipped down into darkness; I looked up one day and realized that there I was, lying on the floor – sleep-deprived, anxious, submerged and floundering, drowning in my own fears.
In those dark days that I spent wading through postpartum depression, I spent so much time struggling to stay above water; it was hard not to look at my life as a big-picture piece and wonder how on earth I was going to make it through the next five minutes, let alone the following weeks, months, or the entirety of my life as I knew it. I knew it was important to take each thing as it came, baby steps all the while, but depression and being overwhelmed tended to find me compounding issue after issue on top of one another until I was roughly the size of an ant standing at the bottom of a mountain of problems that I couldn’t see how I’d ever get through.
I know how easy it is to feel overwhelmed. I am no stranger to feelings of deep pain; I still experience moments when I find it hard to breathe – like there’s a weight pressing directly on my ribcage, and it seems as though nothing can bring me out. I still have days, weeks, or even longer when I walk around staring at my feet, kicking the dirt, and letting myself succumb to my own debilitating, introspective thoughts.
But I realized that amidst my darkness, there exist throngs of others out there who’ve experienced this – that the things I was feeling had been felt and endured by scores of people before me; so even as I was stuck there on the floor, on my knees and barely scraping by, worlds over, these experiences have been lived through, and these feelings have been felt.
So there in my darkness suddenly laid these two fundamental truths, which inevitably lifted me up and raised me out of my darkness: that I am not alone, and that there exists an army of people behind me who support me and love me. And it was up to me to speak up, reach out, and grab somebody’s hand.
No matter what path we’re traveling down, and no matter the fact that we may all be living through different experiences, we’re also all walking down the same road. And chances are great that we’re all just hanging on by a thread. And so it is without reserve that I will spend the rest of my days screaming from the rooftops that these struggles, these hurdles and these deep, dark days will get better. It will get easier. And if you reach out, you will feel the pull of that army lifting you up and out of that trench.
So again I say: you and I are not alone. This will pass. And we are loved.