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How the Solar Eclipse Resembles My Depression

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I am among the lucky few who live along the “path of totality” for the solar eclipse of 2017. For those who don’t know, this means I was able to witness a complete and total solar eclipse. For a brief time, the sun was completely blocked out by the moon and darkness replaced light. While this was a beautiful and magnificent event, I couldn’t help but see the similarities between the phases of the eclipse and my depression.

The day began beautiful, warm and sunny until the moon made first contact. I put on my eclipse glasses and everything is now viewed through a very dark lens. As with my depression, everything is fine… until it’s not.

Depression makes contact and darkness slowly begins to creep into every aspect of my life. I see everything through the lens of depression.  It slowly eats away at more and more of all that is good in my life. Shadows grow, light fades and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

As totality gets closer, it is noticeably darker. Everything feels different. Nothing seems quite right, yet I cannot describe the changes taking place. Similarly, as my depression worsens, I often cannot explain what is happening to me. I close myself off from everyone and everything, and I seem like a different person. My behaviors change as the darkness of depression covers me. I stop caring for myself. My anxiety levels ramp up. I rarely leave the house or even speak to others. The darkness continues to take over and I feel helpless. The last tiny rays of light quickly fade and then the sun is gone.

The moment of totality has arrived. Darkness has taken over completely. It is noticeably colder and even staring directly into the sky, you cannot see the sun. The only evidence of it is the faint shimmer of the corona along the edges of the moon. At my lowest points of depression, I too feel no warmth. Darkness seems all-encompassing. While I know there is light somewhere, I am completely unable to see it from my perspective. In that moment, it seems darkness and depression will last forever and I find myself hopeless.

Just as the eclipse moves on and a ray of sunlight begins to appear once again, with help and the passage of time, my depression slowly begins to lift. While depression may still seem suffocating, someway, somehow, a ray of hope reaches me and I become aware that there is light in the world once again. In time I again begin to see it is possible to be happy.

Soon, light slowly begins to win the battle over darkness. The sun gradually re-emerges. Everyone begins to go back about their day. The eclipse comes to an end. My depression also fades and light and hope return to my life. I return to the world.

I re-engage with people. I begin to go back to my life, and I can feel the warmth of love from others once again. The eclipse was one of the most awe-inspiring things I have seen in my lifetime. In contrast to my depression, it was an amazing event I am grateful to have experienced. Please make no mistake — I fully appreciated the beauty of this “once in a lifetime” event, but when you live with a condition like depression that robs you of light and hope, it is easy to see the comparison. Appreciate the light while you have it, and know that when darkness comes, in time and with help it will pass and light will return.

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Unsplash photo via Mark Tegethoff

Originally published: August 24, 2017
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