And There Was Light

When a friend tells you that they are hopeless, or a burden, or depressed, ask the question. Ask that scary question that you wonder but are too afraid to put a voice to.


Some days it is hard not to lose faith that I can beat depression. According to my psychiatrist, I am a “special case,” meaning difficult to treat. I have bad reactions to many of the more common medications. I am fighting a hard battle.

I started the antipsychotic in the hopes that it would help me. It is a difficult concept to fathom that something that is intended to help you, could bring you so low – so close to the brink. Yet I once again find myself perilously close to giving in.

I live near the edge on an almost daily basis, standing so close to the chasm peering over at the darkness beyond that I wonder if it is really worth it to keep fighting. If it wouldn’t just be better to give up and tumble in. The ups and downs, the rude reversals, sap my strength and swallow my hope. Just at the moment that I rise again, my depression drives me back down in knee-buckling submission.

But there is hope.


I find it in the love and compassion of countless others: sometimes family, sometimes friends, sometimes complete strangers who give me just enough light in the darkness to keep moving forward for one more day.

I used to see others in aggregate. Now I see the kindness in the eyes of a physician who validates my pain and fights by my side. I see concern in a simple text from a friend asking about how my doctor’s appointment went. I see the love in a message from a stranger, and increased calls from a busy sister, just because.

These lights, the stars in my firmament, have always been there. But when my days were light I would struggle to see them. They would often shine unnoticed. Now when I stand in so much darkness, I can finally see them clearly for what they are: tiny suns, giving me light, when I feel like mine has gone out.

Never underestimate the power that you have to be that light for others.

A friend told me today of another friend she knows who is struggling. Worry creased her face as she described this friend’s troubles. She wondered what she should be doing or could be doing that she isn’t doing.

My friend is love. She is gentleness. She is kindness. I struggled to give her a good answer because I don’t think there is a right answer. But here is what I would say if I had a second chance.

When a friend tells you that they are hopeless, or a burden, or depressed, ask the question. Ask that scary question that you wonder but are too afraid to put a voice to. Ask them if they have thought about suicide. Say the words. Do not let them go unsaid. You may save their life.

When a friend comes to you and shares their darkest thoughts, they are telling you that a part of them wants to live. Feed that part of them.

When you don’t know what else to say, tell them that you care about them. Tell them that you value them. Tell them that you want them around. Tell them that you need them. Tell them that their presence is not a burden. Tell them you love them and the world would be less without them. Tell them that as hard as life may be for them right now and as weak as they may feel that they can hang on for one more minute or hour or day. Talk to them. Be with them. Stay with them. Be a light in their darkness. Sometimes that light is the only one that gets through.

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels




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