Feelings: when they turn the front porch lights on we sense warmth and safety. But they can just as easily provoke a cold and terrifying gloom. We’ve heard it since we were kids, don’t be afraid of the dark.

…I know how frightening it is to acknowledge and engage feelings that grab us by the scruff of the neck and shove us into the depths of darkness.

Maybe the front porch lights are on and you’re good, at least for now. But maybe you aren’t. Could be you’re overwhelmed with depression, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, anger, numbness, emptiness – or who knows what else. And you don’t know what to do.

A cold and terrifying gloom

When the lights go out and the demons come to call, a cold and terrifying gloom rapidly sets in. And if you’re enduring a mood or anxiety disorder you know what comes quickly can last an awfully long time. Perhaps you’ve experienced it. I’ve done my darkness time over the decades, and it’s a horrible place to be. And what makes it all the more dreadful is it’s a double whammy. Being overburdened with misery got us here in the first place. And now darkness. It makes life darn near unbearable.

Now what?

So what are we supposed to do when we’re desperately struggling in the dark? Well, our conscious and unconscious minds can be very creative, coming up with a variety of coping strategies and techniques. Let’s see: substances, relationships, thinking/intellectualizing, work, school, and I know you can come up with more. It’s all about running, hiding, and living “neck up” until the darkness and pain magically disappear. But you know what? Ain’t gonna’ happen.

Turning on the lights

The front porch lights: Warmth and safety

My life experience says resolution is the only way to allow our feelings to turn the front porch lights on. And the only way to achieve it is through courageous and tenacious self-assessment and intervention. And the only way to pull that off is to accept and be willing to go nose-to-nose with what’s troubling us. Believe me, I know how frightening it is to acknowledge and engage feelings that grab us by the scruff of the neck and shove us into the depths of darkness. But I also know we have tremendous healing power, much of which we’ve never called upon.

Emotional vomiting

Okay, this is kind of gross, but it makes the point. Let’s say you’re feeling nauseous and you know you’re a smell, taste, or visual away from vomiting. So you do everything in your power to keep it down, until you just can’t take it anymore. Finally, out it comes, and you feel amazing. And so it is with the feelings we’re talking about. They can be so nauseating, and we’re more than happy to endure all sorts of discomfort in an effort to avoid a very nasty purge. Well, at least until we “just can’t take it anymore,” and muster the courage to take care of biz – ultimately finding ourselves incredibly relieved.

Let’s take it home

Some 20 years ago I read a book that deeply touched me. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Mood and Madness was written by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison. I came across more of her wisdom in the Forward to Understanding Bipolar Disorder: Why some people experience extreme mood states and what can help – a report published by The British Psychological Society. See what you think…
I have often asked myself whether, given the choice, I would choose to have manic depressive illness … Strangely enough I think I would choose to have it. It’s complicated. Depression is awful beyond words or sounds or images … So why would I want anything to do with this illness? Because I honestly believe that as a result of it I have felt more things, more deeply; had more experiences, more intensely; loved more, and been loved; laughed more often for having cried more often; appreciated more the springs, for all the winters; worn death ‘as close as dungarees’, appreciated it – and life – more; seen the finest and the most terrible in people, and slowly learned the values of caring, loyalty and seeing things through.
It still tears me up.

Don’t be afraid of the dark

The front porch lights aren’t always going to be on. For some of us, they rarely are. So, okay, we’ll do our time in the cold and terrifying gloom. And we’ll suffer bravely, knowing we have the tools to survive and every reason in the world to hope for seeing the light. Feelings: Don’t be afraid of the dark. Plenty more Chipur mood and anxiety info and inspiration articles where this came from. Check the shelves.