Darkness comes in different shades, as do all other colors. The darkness can be addicting, you get sucked into it. Its comforting, like the spot in your bed that lulls you to sleep. The darkness is persuasive, and it persuaded you to take a step off the ledge, and clouded your mind allowing for you to forget everything in that moment. But ending the pain.
I know that darkness.
I lived in the dark for so long I forgot what it was like to feel the warm sunshine. I recall days that passed without purpose, weeks and months of feeling nothing but stuck in the dark without even so much as a match.
That is what autumn was to me, darkness.
It’s strange because usually people find themselves sad during winter, when everything has already died and its cold and wet and there is nothing to do. But winter comes like an icy breath of cool relief, and a reminder that I made it through the roughest part of my year. It sounds strange to tack on so many negative feelings to a season, especially my favorite season. But as the leaves changed and fell from the trees five years ago, I fell deeper and deeper into a depression. Fresh off an attempt at no longer living, I felt lost, despondent, numb. I was engulfed in a dark cloud that just lingered around my head.
I dropped out of school, and spent the month of September sitting, legs crossed, in my bed staring blankly at a wall. Before resorting to sitting and staring I tried different things to get myself together, but I had just grown impulsive. I had no regard for life and the consequences of my actions. I ran red lights just to do it. I would inch my car into the intersection on red in hopes that someone would hit me. I debated, time after time, crashing my car.
The thoughts were endless, and they were gnawing at my core, breaking me apart and spreading my insides across the floor for me to just stare at, void of feeling.
I kept asking myself why there was something wrong with me, and why I couldn’t fix it. This is the part of me no one knew about. But it was real, it existed and I am not ashamed to say that at one point in time, life didn’t mean a thing to me. I was so wrapped in the depression I couldn’t breathe. I no longer wanted to feel like drowning but solace seemed nonexistent.
But to every sad story there is a silver lining, if one looks hard enough.
My mom’s advice was my silver lining. I remember like it was yesterday. It was a beautiful Wednesday morning, however, I hadn’t left my room in days. I turned over and glanced out the window, it was mid October 2011 and the air smelled like my favorite season. The crispness of the air, the leaves as they changed from green to a rusty orange, and pumpkin everything. That autumn, however, was different. My mom came into my room and demanded that I get up; she really gave me no choice.
“You are getting up.” She was persistent.
Reluctantly I got up, got dressed, and followed her to the door.
“Mom, can I just go back to bed? Please?” I pleaded.
She wouldn’t budge. She told me that I was done being a “lump on a log.” We took my littlest sister to school and went to Starbucks across the street. She believed that coffee could make me feel better and it did a little bit, but everything was temporary.
That’s what I felt, temporary, like one day I was just going to disappear and not exist anymore. Part of me was okay with that.
The walk consisted of silence and I didn’t feel the need for noise. I wasn’t present, I wasn’t real, and I wasn’t me. I glanced at the changing leaves, breathing in the cool air, yet I still felt nothing. I was numb, filled with a raging indifference toward living. I felt as if nothing was worth anything, like I wasn’t worth anything. I was nothing.
We rounded a corner and my mom stopped me, looked at me with this unbelievably sincere look on her face and finally broke the barrier. She asked me what was wrong, and why I had been acting so weird. It was the one question she hadn’t asked, for a while I don’t think she wanted to know. For the first time in weeks I felt something. This overwhelming sense of panic and fear overcame me and the tears came in an instant. I just stood there, in the middle of the sidewalk surrounded by leaves, sobbing.
“I am not happy,” I cried and retreated to the ground. “I am miserable.”
My mom looked at me, hugged me, and told me to pack my things and go. I planned on moving to Oklahoma at the end of the semester, and she pushed it because she knew it was good for me. She told me she loved me and let me cry in her arms.
“You’re okay,” She said.
Picking me up off the ground she stood me up and said, “Mind over matter.”
That day surrounded by autumn leaves and my mothers love, I realized that I could overcome this.
There is a leaf that sits upon my arm, and I frequently get asked if I am in fact Canadian. When the response is, “no, I am not.” I get a slew of other comments regarding the tattoo. But the truth is, when my world comes to a halt, usually every year around September, I look down at my leaf and remember that it is just a season. That even when I thought I would never move through it, I did. It is my reminder to hold on and keep going. That the darkness, although unbelievably consuming at times, is only temporary.
Autumn is no longer darkness, but holds great appreciation for the life I live every day.