Mental Illness

Navigating the Darkness

You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. When tough times strike, someone will inevitably offer the rote refrain that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s cute. It’s cliché. Is it true? Perhaps. Is it always our reality? No.

What if there is no light at the end of the tunnel? What if the hard times don’t turn into joy? What if our darkest night doesn’t end? What if all we have is the darkness? How do we navigate with no visual aids?

It would seem reasonable to believe that if darkness exists then so must light. But as someone who’s often ensnared in the black of depression, I know all too well that the light can be hard to find (if it exists at all). I’ve spent many a night waiting for the dawn to drive away the demons that feed off my thoughts, my grief, my pain. I want so desperately to believe in that simple phrase, but the light doesn’t always come. Sometimes, we have to go and seek it out, just to see if it might possibly be found…somewhere.

Groping the walls and tripping over God only knows what in our paths, we take one step, then another. No natural light. No manmade light. Just a desperate search in pitch blackness. Are we headed deeper into the tunnel or traveling the road to freedom? Who the fuck knows…but we DO know that if we just sit in that darkness, it will overtake us, it will win. We have no choice but to move, to hope that the advice is actually good and not just a token response from someone who doesn’t know what to say or sometimes doesn’t really care.

We MOVE. We find a way forward. In the darkness. No iPhone. No Google Maps. No historic navigational tools.


Not the motivational post you expected? I make no apologies because, for thousands and thousands of us, it’s our reality. I want so much to believe that there really is ALWAYS a light at the end of the tunnel, but I have my doubts. Thus far, I’ve found just enough to eventually navigate my way out of the darkness…but every tunnel is different.