What the Sunset Reminds Me as a Person Living With a Mental Illness
“Watch the sunset with me.”
The air was warm all around us. The night was filled with high hope. We had heard the northern lights would be visible, and we were not going to miss them.
We were going to see a solar storm. We were going to be together. That night, we were searching for the magnificence of the sky, but we ended up finding the simplest magnificence of humanity.
It didn’t matter that we had only met each other a few hours before, we all had to work the next morning or we weren’t really sure where to even look. Hope is an idea that can unite anyone. We drove until we could not see the city lights. We sat, looked up and waited.
We did not see the northern lights that night, but we still saw creation at its finest, the sky filled with little dots of light in the darkness, shooting glimmers of hope. We also saw each other for who we really are. The darkness creates a confessional of sorts, veiling our faces to allow our minds to be vulnerable. Waiting in silence, conversation slowly come out.
In that moment under the twinkling light of the night sky, I realized how much the sky can speak into life. The sky has always brought me a sense of hope. Hope for a guaranteed new beginning, a beautiful ending and a light in the darkness.
How amazing is it that every 24 hours, the earth sees both darkness and light? The earth’s darkness does not outweigh its beauty. Life gives us our times in the light, and our time in the darkness. In my personal journey with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and panic disorder, I feel the highs and the lows every single day, but every day there is a choice.
We can start our day with hope, or we can spend our time worrying about the darkness of yesterday and living today in fog. Every sunrise rids the darkness of its possession.
Each day, we get the gift of ending it with the promise of God’s most beautiful picture. A beautiful way to end the day. A colorful picture to remind us there is beauty before darkness.
The day I tried to end my fight, my sunset was covered by clouds. I didn’t have hope. I didn’t see hope. I let myself feel the pain in my sky, and I let the heaviness make itself at home in my soul. I thought my light could easily be extinguished. I never thought I could see light again. So I took pills, hoping to extinguish my light.
Finding hope after that attempt was the hardest fight I’ve fought. While many will tell you of how much hold the darkness had on me, today, I am so glad that my light still shines. You see, I was wrong.
During that time, I could not grasp the reality of what had happened. The days passed in a blur. I could only think of how mad I was at God, and how much I could not understand why this was a struggle He wrote into my story.
On nights where it feels all hope is gone, I look to the sky. I think of all the others watching the sunset with me and searching for hope before the darkness finds a place inside my soul. The sunset prepares you for darkness. The sunset gives hope for the dark times.
There is hope in the darkness and light in the shadows. For much of my life and still today, night has brought out the darkness of the days. Night is a time I am reminded of the seasons of life that were the most hopeless, the most painful. When looking out my window on a clear night, thousands of stars shining in the darkness are waiting to be seen, making the night not as foreboding, consuming and infinite, shooting hope to the hopeless. Without darkness, a star cannot shine.
If we didn’t know struggle, then how would we know joy? If we didn’t ever feel sad, then would we still appreciate those moments? The moments where all you want to do is run, scream and shout to the heavens. The beautiful, illuminating, heart-warming, soul-clenching moments. If we don’t know darkness, pain, heaviness and struggle, then we don’t know true joy and light.
The pain will end. There will be days that you feel so broken you don’t know if you will ever feel your sunrise. You will not be OK all the time. This in itself is OK.
Our own personal darkness is not beautiful. Let me say that again: It is not beautiful. It is not glamorous or pretty, but there is always hope in your darkness. There is always help. There is always a way out of darkness. It will always get better.
This set in for me when I was looking at the stars on that warm summer night. I realized how small our struggles are in the mass that is eternity. I realized that even when the sky is a mass of darkness pitted against a storm, we still see beauty. I realized there are people who will see you through, and two of them were sitting right next to me.
This was not in any means a “fix all” realization. There is still pain and brokenness, and sometimes, the heaviness of depression sucks me into my bed for the day. Yet, in that moment, those conversations gave me hope in the darkness. Today, more than a year later, those are two of my best friends. A mutual love for the sky has helped us to recreate many nights of silence and conversation. Many nights of hope, light and being vulnerable with our stories and finding hope in each other. I hope you can allow yourself to have that someday.
Please remember, there is always hope, and hope is real. Every day, we see beauty begin and end with darkness. Someday, you will see beauty come from your darkness. Look to the sky, and watch the sunset with me tonight.
Image via Thinkstock.