One thousand days of darkness

It seems that the Mayans were right. They predicted that the world would end in December 2012. (OK—I know that they did not really predict that. Play along with me here.) They only missed by a few weeks. I guess it was obvious to them that the ending should take place at the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. To come so close to the actual end so many centuries before the actual event is incredibly accurate prognostication.

The second half of 2012 would have been rotten for me even without a Mayan prediction. Murphy’s Gremlins were unusually busy from the end of the summer through the autumn. Automobile breakdowns required towing and expensive repairs, computers failed and needed to be replaced, appliances broke down and needed repairs, and all of this cost money. I am still paying interest to the credit card companies because of the bills that had to be paid at that time.

But money is only money. When the darkness fell, it was about more than mere dollars and cents. Gradually, increasingly, nothing seemed right with the world. Life had lost its meaning. Existence was just a matter of getting from one day to the next.

I had been through dark times before. When I was in school, there were weeks when I was discouraged and the whole business of life seemed pointless. Somehow, without anybody’s help, I pulled through those times and kept on going. Later, when work got busy and did not let up, I felt the darkness again. One friend sent me a box of chocolate which helped—the thoughtfulness and the candy both brought cheer. As the years went by, I noticed that December and Christmas always had their layer of gloom, and I considered the possibility that I had developed Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I fought back with Vitamin D pills and exercise. Somehow I survived.

Then came a time when I was riding a wave of success. My writing was getting published, and I was making public appearances, even on television. Other people were interested in what I had to say. I wondered at times how long the good feelings would last and how bad the crash would be when it came. For more than a year, life seemed to be good, and I was basking in the sunshine with pleasure.

The crash happened. The good feelings fled. I was left with a sense of irretrievable loss. When I thought things might be improving, they failed to improve. Songs on the radio reminded me how miserable I was. I was able to write about it, and that helped a little, but only a little. It seemed that the sun had gone out of my life forever.

I handled my depression poorly. I self-medicated by drinking, which of course only made things worse. Finally, after two years of darkness, I was honest with my family doctor about what was happening inside me. He started me on medication, and I also began counseling. Finally, after a lifetime of struggle, I was able to admit that I am anxious and depressed and cannot handle these afflictions on my own.

Are things better today? In some ways, yes. The medicine and the counseling are helping. Progress is happening. I am aware of people who struggle with far greater afflictions than mine. After all, I have not missed a day of work through this time of darkness. I have kept it hidden from most of those who see me several times a week.

Today marks one thousand days of darkness. I cannot say that the darkness ends at one thousand days; there may be a day one thousand and one. With God’s help, though, I am stronger than all this garbage. I can and I should pull through and find my way into the light again.