Josh Carlton

@joshcarlton | contributor
Josh Carlton is a husband, writer, and small business owner living in KY. He is a suicide attempt survivor. He calls depression his “ghost." Read more of his words at www.portraitsofaghost.com.
Josh Carlton

What I Want You to Remember If You're Navigating the 'Depression Fog'

I wake to an empty bed, empty room, empty house — save for the dogs sleeping soundly at my feet, and the cats whose whereabouts are unknown. I swing my legs over the side of the bed and throw away the sheets. Lines of light seep through closed wooden blinds. By the sounds outside I know it’s morning. A distant siren moans of some unseen tragedy in the making. The room stands blue and gray and cold around me, a box for keeping all my colorless dreams tucked away, like me. My head is numb from sleep. My eyes red from crying. I don’t even remember crying, but the feeling of general puffiness around my face is familiar enough. I don’t need a mirror to know how I look. I don’t want to see. I stand, stretch, pad across the carpet to the bathroom, past the vanity, where my gaze falls to the floor to avoid my mask of emptiness. But no, not a mask, I remember. This is it; this is the real me. The mask is what I put on to go out there, among the shining, smiling faces in the shining, smiling world. The world I witness from inside the fog is happy and colorful and bright and wonderful, always moving, always posting and liking and sharing. Always exploring, tasting, drinking some happy new thing. I don’t feel like moving. I don’t feel like sharing. I don’t feel like tasting or exploring anything. I don’t feel anything. I shower, because it’s been three days, and I don’t want my wife to think of me as her disgusting, smelly husband, who stays cooped up in the home office I suspect that she suspects I set up as a frail excuse to stay inside all day, “working.” Working comes easy on these days, believe it or not. I can lose myself in work. I build websites and write marketing copy for a living. I spend a lot of my time talking to people through social media. I started the company with a friend. It’s a young company, barely a toddler, wobbling with every tender step, but it’s my baby and I love it. It brings me hope, gives me an escape. It keeps me connected, even at a distance. Even through the fog. My passion has always been storytelling. Before this, I spent my days barely existing within the vacuum of retail. Face-to-face with the beast: the wide-eyed, always moving, shining, smiling, posting, liking public — a world which has begun to feel like some alien planet I’m only temporarily inhabiting. Just passing through. The hot water of the shower eases some of the pressure in my face, and I feel a little more awake after toweling off. Brushing my teeth forces me to smile, if only to check my gums, and here I see the thing in the mirror: the ghost. That’s almost enough to bring the tears back. I shut off the bathroom light and sit on the edge of the shower in darkness, head in hands, breathing deeply. You’re OK. You’re fine. “This too shall pass.” I stand and fumble for the light switch once more, wondering if I’ll still be there in the mirror when the lights come on, or if the ghost will have made me transparent. Will I be hollow on the outside now, too? Surely. I feel hollow. I feel invisible. That’s the hardest part of navigating the fog: waking up on certain days and looking out as a stranger, both to the world around you and within. It’s like standing at a window, watching a muted storm. But the storm is inside your mind, and you’re the only one who can see through the window. My name is Josh, and I struggle with major depressive disorder. I’ve also been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, and in the past I’ve been treated for anxiety. I’ve tried to end my story before, and failed. I’m thankful of that. Even on days like today. Even when the fog draws up behind and before and above my head like a seething ocean wave, I am thankful to be alive. How is that? How is it that I can feel both grateful to be here and desperate to escape? Because of all the lights I’ve found along the way. Because of my wife. If I found only one source of light in all the world to guide me through the fog, it would be her. My wife, the star defying a perfect void. The thought of her grief, her sadness, is enough to keep me here. What it would do to her, if I left. If I gave up. If I let the ghost have me. This is not an easy way to live, but there are days I wake up and the sun really does shine. Those are the days I’m living for. Days like today are hard to navigate, but I make it through by pushing forward. If I glance back over my shoulder, I see the ghost there, waiting in the fog. Whispering. And once again I reply, “Not yet. Not today.” Because that’s the best I can offer. Today I’m choosing the fog. I’m choosing the world behind the window. I’m choosing the lights along the way. Their warmth is my warmth. Their light is my own, my only. I’m always fearful of stealing their light. What if I take too much? Will they become dark, like me? Will they be empty then? Will I become the fog that lingers? Will I become the ghost that whispers? It’s unnatural that the nature of emptiness is the same as fog: it spreads. It’s hard seeing someone so full of happiness and realizing you matter to them. That they love you, yes you, just the way you are. How can someone love something so empty? A thing that is empty wishes to be full. A thing that is full wishes to pour itself out, so that it can be filled once more. The difference is that the full thing knows it will become full again. There’s never any doubt. That’s usually just the way it is. “I am full,” the full thing thinks, “and I will be full again. Here, have some of mine. I insist.” And the empty thing, it takes, because what else is there for an empty thing to do? I am an empty thing, taking. Always taking, stealing. I steal light and warmth and color. And once the light dims, I am empty once more. And so I go on, stumbling through the fog, as hollow and light as water must become so that it may fly. I go on searching for the next light. As I’m writing this, I’m in the fog. But I’m remembering all the clear days behind me and the ones to come. I have hope that they will come. It is that hope to which I cling, for her sake. And for mine. If you find yourself in the fog, the thing to remember is, don’t panic. These clouds, they come and go. They never hang around forever. Keep searching. Find a beacon. Find a light. Find something full to replenish you. It will become full again, I promise. Never be afraid to drink when you need to drink. Steal a little light while you can, and keep looking forward. And if you make it through the fog, light the way for those behind you. Because when you live with a mental illness of any kind, every day is different. Today, I’m wandering. I’m searching. Tomorrow, perhaps I’ll find the light. Perhaps I’ll even get to shine for someone else. Some days, it’s easier to shine. Some days, it’s easier to search. Some days you pour, and some days you drink. Some days, you’re doing a little bit of both. Every day, no matter what, please remember: you are not alone. Even if you can’t see them, the fog is full of wanderers. If you find no one else, find me. I’m out here, too. I’m out here with you. I’m here for you. We can wander (and shine) together. Never forget. The fog is not forever. The light is just over the horizon. Find it. Never forget. I love you. Follow this journey here. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 , the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Getty image via francescoch

Josh Carlton

What I Want You to Remember If You're Navigating the 'Depression Fog'

I wake to an empty bed, empty room, empty house — save for the dogs sleeping soundly at my feet, and the cats whose whereabouts are unknown. I swing my legs over the side of the bed and throw away the sheets. Lines of light seep through closed wooden blinds. By the sounds outside I know it’s morning. A distant siren moans of some unseen tragedy in the making. The room stands blue and gray and cold around me, a box for keeping all my colorless dreams tucked away, like me. My head is numb from sleep. My eyes red from crying. I don’t even remember crying, but the feeling of general puffiness around my face is familiar enough. I don’t need a mirror to know how I look. I don’t want to see. I stand, stretch, pad across the carpet to the bathroom, past the vanity, where my gaze falls to the floor to avoid my mask of emptiness. But no, not a mask, I remember. This is it; this is the real me. The mask is what I put on to go out there, among the shining, smiling faces in the shining, smiling world. The world I witness from inside the fog is happy and colorful and bright and wonderful, always moving, always posting and liking and sharing. Always exploring, tasting, drinking some happy new thing. I don’t feel like moving. I don’t feel like sharing. I don’t feel like tasting or exploring anything. I don’t feel anything. I shower, because it’s been three days, and I don’t want my wife to think of me as her disgusting, smelly husband, who stays cooped up in the home office I suspect that she suspects I set up as a frail excuse to stay inside all day, “working.” Working comes easy on these days, believe it or not. I can lose myself in work. I build websites and write marketing copy for a living. I spend a lot of my time talking to people through social media. I started the company with a friend. It’s a young company, barely a toddler, wobbling with every tender step, but it’s my baby and I love it. It brings me hope, gives me an escape. It keeps me connected, even at a distance. Even through the fog. My passion has always been storytelling. Before this, I spent my days barely existing within the vacuum of retail. Face-to-face with the beast: the wide-eyed, always moving, shining, smiling, posting, liking public — a world which has begun to feel like some alien planet I’m only temporarily inhabiting. Just passing through. The hot water of the shower eases some of the pressure in my face, and I feel a little more awake after toweling off. Brushing my teeth forces me to smile, if only to check my gums, and here I see the thing in the mirror: the ghost. That’s almost enough to bring the tears back. I shut off the bathroom light and sit on the edge of the shower in darkness, head in hands, breathing deeply. You’re OK. You’re fine. “This too shall pass.” I stand and fumble for the light switch once more, wondering if I’ll still be there in the mirror when the lights come on, or if the ghost will have made me transparent. Will I be hollow on the outside now, too? Surely. I feel hollow. I feel invisible. That’s the hardest part of navigating the fog: waking up on certain days and looking out as a stranger, both to the world around you and within. It’s like standing at a window, watching a muted storm. But the storm is inside your mind, and you’re the only one who can see through the window. My name is Josh, and I struggle with major depressive disorder. I’ve also been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, and in the past I’ve been treated for anxiety. I’ve tried to end my story before, and failed. I’m thankful of that. Even on days like today. Even when the fog draws up behind and before and above my head like a seething ocean wave, I am thankful to be alive. How is that? How is it that I can feel both grateful to be here and desperate to escape? Because of all the lights I’ve found along the way. Because of my wife. If I found only one source of light in all the world to guide me through the fog, it would be her. My wife, the star defying a perfect void. The thought of her grief, her sadness, is enough to keep me here. What it would do to her, if I left. If I gave up. If I let the ghost have me. This is not an easy way to live, but there are days I wake up and the sun really does shine. Those are the days I’m living for. Days like today are hard to navigate, but I make it through by pushing forward. If I glance back over my shoulder, I see the ghost there, waiting in the fog. Whispering. And once again I reply, “Not yet. Not today.” Because that’s the best I can offer. Today I’m choosing the fog. I’m choosing the world behind the window. I’m choosing the lights along the way. Their warmth is my warmth. Their light is my own, my only. I’m always fearful of stealing their light. What if I take too much? Will they become dark, like me? Will they be empty then? Will I become the fog that lingers? Will I become the ghost that whispers? It’s unnatural that the nature of emptiness is the same as fog: it spreads. It’s hard seeing someone so full of happiness and realizing you matter to them. That they love you, yes you, just the way you are. How can someone love something so empty? A thing that is empty wishes to be full. A thing that is full wishes to pour itself out, so that it can be filled once more. The difference is that the full thing knows it will become full again. There’s never any doubt. That’s usually just the way it is. “I am full,” the full thing thinks, “and I will be full again. Here, have some of mine. I insist.” And the empty thing, it takes, because what else is there for an empty thing to do? I am an empty thing, taking. Always taking, stealing. I steal light and warmth and color. And once the light dims, I am empty once more. And so I go on, stumbling through the fog, as hollow and light as water must become so that it may fly. I go on searching for the next light. As I’m writing this, I’m in the fog. But I’m remembering all the clear days behind me and the ones to come. I have hope that they will come. It is that hope to which I cling, for her sake. And for mine. If you find yourself in the fog, the thing to remember is, don’t panic. These clouds, they come and go. They never hang around forever. Keep searching. Find a beacon. Find a light. Find something full to replenish you. It will become full again, I promise. Never be afraid to drink when you need to drink. Steal a little light while you can, and keep looking forward. And if you make it through the fog, light the way for those behind you. Because when you live with a mental illness of any kind, every day is different. Today, I’m wandering. I’m searching. Tomorrow, perhaps I’ll find the light. Perhaps I’ll even get to shine for someone else. Some days, it’s easier to shine. Some days, it’s easier to search. Some days you pour, and some days you drink. Some days, you’re doing a little bit of both. Every day, no matter what, please remember: you are not alone. Even if you can’t see them, the fog is full of wanderers. If you find no one else, find me. I’m out here, too. I’m out here with you. I’m here for you. We can wander (and shine) together. Never forget. The fog is not forever. The light is just over the horizon. Find it. Never forget. I love you. Follow this journey here. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 , the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Getty image via francescoch

Josh Carlton

What I Want You to Remember If You're Navigating the 'Depression Fog'

I wake to an empty bed, empty room, empty house — save for the dogs sleeping soundly at my feet, and the cats whose whereabouts are unknown. I swing my legs over the side of the bed and throw away the sheets. Lines of light seep through closed wooden blinds. By the sounds outside I know it’s morning. A distant siren moans of some unseen tragedy in the making. The room stands blue and gray and cold around me, a box for keeping all my colorless dreams tucked away, like me. My head is numb from sleep. My eyes red from crying. I don’t even remember crying, but the feeling of general puffiness around my face is familiar enough. I don’t need a mirror to know how I look. I don’t want to see. I stand, stretch, pad across the carpet to the bathroom, past the vanity, where my gaze falls to the floor to avoid my mask of emptiness. But no, not a mask, I remember. This is it; this is the real me. The mask is what I put on to go out there, among the shining, smiling faces in the shining, smiling world. The world I witness from inside the fog is happy and colorful and bright and wonderful, always moving, always posting and liking and sharing. Always exploring, tasting, drinking some happy new thing. I don’t feel like moving. I don’t feel like sharing. I don’t feel like tasting or exploring anything. I don’t feel anything. I shower, because it’s been three days, and I don’t want my wife to think of me as her disgusting, smelly husband, who stays cooped up in the home office I suspect that she suspects I set up as a frail excuse to stay inside all day, “working.” Working comes easy on these days, believe it or not. I can lose myself in work. I build websites and write marketing copy for a living. I spend a lot of my time talking to people through social media. I started the company with a friend. It’s a young company, barely a toddler, wobbling with every tender step, but it’s my baby and I love it. It brings me hope, gives me an escape. It keeps me connected, even at a distance. Even through the fog. My passion has always been storytelling. Before this, I spent my days barely existing within the vacuum of retail. Face-to-face with the beast: the wide-eyed, always moving, shining, smiling, posting, liking public — a world which has begun to feel like some alien planet I’m only temporarily inhabiting. Just passing through. The hot water of the shower eases some of the pressure in my face, and I feel a little more awake after toweling off. Brushing my teeth forces me to smile, if only to check my gums, and here I see the thing in the mirror: the ghost. That’s almost enough to bring the tears back. I shut off the bathroom light and sit on the edge of the shower in darkness, head in hands, breathing deeply. You’re OK. You’re fine. “This too shall pass.” I stand and fumble for the light switch once more, wondering if I’ll still be there in the mirror when the lights come on, or if the ghost will have made me transparent. Will I be hollow on the outside now, too? Surely. I feel hollow. I feel invisible. That’s the hardest part of navigating the fog: waking up on certain days and looking out as a stranger, both to the world around you and within. It’s like standing at a window, watching a muted storm. But the storm is inside your mind, and you’re the only one who can see through the window. My name is Josh, and I struggle with major depressive disorder. I’ve also been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, and in the past I’ve been treated for anxiety. I’ve tried to end my story before, and failed. I’m thankful of that. Even on days like today. Even when the fog draws up behind and before and above my head like a seething ocean wave, I am thankful to be alive. How is that? How is it that I can feel both grateful to be here and desperate to escape? Because of all the lights I’ve found along the way. Because of my wife. If I found only one source of light in all the world to guide me through the fog, it would be her. My wife, the star defying a perfect void. The thought of her grief, her sadness, is enough to keep me here. What it would do to her, if I left. If I gave up. If I let the ghost have me. This is not an easy way to live, but there are days I wake up and the sun really does shine. Those are the days I’m living for. Days like today are hard to navigate, but I make it through by pushing forward. If I glance back over my shoulder, I see the ghost there, waiting in the fog. Whispering. And once again I reply, “Not yet. Not today.” Because that’s the best I can offer. Today I’m choosing the fog. I’m choosing the world behind the window. I’m choosing the lights along the way. Their warmth is my warmth. Their light is my own, my only. I’m always fearful of stealing their light. What if I take too much? Will they become dark, like me? Will they be empty then? Will I become the fog that lingers? Will I become the ghost that whispers? It’s unnatural that the nature of emptiness is the same as fog: it spreads. It’s hard seeing someone so full of happiness and realizing you matter to them. That they love you, yes you, just the way you are. How can someone love something so empty? A thing that is empty wishes to be full. A thing that is full wishes to pour itself out, so that it can be filled once more. The difference is that the full thing knows it will become full again. There’s never any doubt. That’s usually just the way it is. “I am full,” the full thing thinks, “and I will be full again. Here, have some of mine. I insist.” And the empty thing, it takes, because what else is there for an empty thing to do? I am an empty thing, taking. Always taking, stealing. I steal light and warmth and color. And once the light dims, I am empty once more. And so I go on, stumbling through the fog, as hollow and light as water must become so that it may fly. I go on searching for the next light. As I’m writing this, I’m in the fog. But I’m remembering all the clear days behind me and the ones to come. I have hope that they will come. It is that hope to which I cling, for her sake. And for mine. If you find yourself in the fog, the thing to remember is, don’t panic. These clouds, they come and go. They never hang around forever. Keep searching. Find a beacon. Find a light. Find something full to replenish you. It will become full again, I promise. Never be afraid to drink when you need to drink. Steal a little light while you can, and keep looking forward. And if you make it through the fog, light the way for those behind you. Because when you live with a mental illness of any kind, every day is different. Today, I’m wandering. I’m searching. Tomorrow, perhaps I’ll find the light. Perhaps I’ll even get to shine for someone else. Some days, it’s easier to shine. Some days, it’s easier to search. Some days you pour, and some days you drink. Some days, you’re doing a little bit of both. Every day, no matter what, please remember: you are not alone. Even if you can’t see them, the fog is full of wanderers. If you find no one else, find me. I’m out here, too. I’m out here with you. I’m here for you. We can wander (and shine) together. Never forget. The fog is not forever. The light is just over the horizon. Find it. Never forget. I love you. Follow this journey here. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 , the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Getty image via francescoch

Kelsey Avera

How Creative Journaling Helps my Anxiety

I want to start off with a little disclaimer: Journaling will not heal or eliminate your mental health struggles, and I’m not about to launch into some ridiculous testimonial about how I did that. Keeping it 100 percent real: I have two therapists, and I just started medication. But long before I began searching for help for the anxiety I’ve journeyed with since my teen years, I found a small but significant outlet for my fears, dreams, worries and longings in the pages of notebooks, on the corners of class notes and in journals. What started as a subconscious coping mechanism has now become, for me, one of the most valuable habits of my life, and I’d like to share with you some of the ways it has helped me on my mental health journey. 1. Creative journaling helps me get real with my feelings. Sometimes, I don’t even realize I am feeling pain until I sit down and allow myself to write, draw or talk it out. Over the years, my journal has been the place where many of my feelings are named, realized and sorted. 2. Journaling is a way of sorting my anxieties and fears from my reality. I love what my therapist says about thoughts and feelings: They are real, but that doesn’t mean they’re always true. For me, my journal has been a place where I can really flesh out an anxious experience or a panic attack, take a good hard look at what I’m fearing, and then take steps towards de-escalating. 3. Writing in or drawing in a journal can be a mindful, stress relieving activity. A journal can be a totally blank canvas. Sometimes, I turn to a blank page and draw whatever I want. Coloring, drawing patterns, and writing stream-of-consciousness can be a mindful activity, something that grounds us when our anxiety feels out of control. I like to think of it as giving my monkey mind something else to concentrate on while I calm down. 4. There are ways to track mental health through journaling. One of the most popular forms of creative journaling, bullet journaling, has become a Mecca of resources for people with various mental health journeys. I have found a supportive community as well as many pragmatic layouts to use in my journal as a way of progress tracking, symptom tracking and general reflection. 5. Journaling grows my creative spirit and adds joy to my life. No matter how great any of these other things sound, you shouldn’t journal unless it adds value to your life. For me, keeping journals has been a grounding and joyful activity for me, and for that reason, it stays. The way I journal has changed a lot throughout the years, just as I have changed. I look forward to continuing this longtime hobby, seeing what new doors it could open for me in this wild — sometimes scary — incredible life. For those who are interested in starting a Bullet Journal, follow this link and watch the video that started it all. Follow this journey on the author’s blog. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

Josh Carlton

What I Want You to Remember If You're Navigating the 'Depression Fog'

I wake to an empty bed, empty room, empty house — save for the dogs sleeping soundly at my feet, and the cats whose whereabouts are unknown. I swing my legs over the side of the bed and throw away the sheets. Lines of light seep through closed wooden blinds. By the sounds outside I know it’s morning. A distant siren moans of some unseen tragedy in the making. The room stands blue and gray and cold around me, a box for keeping all my colorless dreams tucked away, like me. My head is numb from sleep. My eyes red from crying. I don’t even remember crying, but the feeling of general puffiness around my face is familiar enough. I don’t need a mirror to know how I look. I don’t want to see. I stand, stretch, pad across the carpet to the bathroom, past the vanity, where my gaze falls to the floor to avoid my mask of emptiness. But no, not a mask, I remember. This is it; this is the real me. The mask is what I put on to go out there, among the shining, smiling faces in the shining, smiling world. The world I witness from inside the fog is happy and colorful and bright and wonderful, always moving, always posting and liking and sharing. Always exploring, tasting, drinking some happy new thing. I don’t feel like moving. I don’t feel like sharing. I don’t feel like tasting or exploring anything. I don’t feel anything. I shower, because it’s been three days, and I don’t want my wife to think of me as her disgusting, smelly husband, who stays cooped up in the home office I suspect that she suspects I set up as a frail excuse to stay inside all day, “working.” Working comes easy on these days, believe it or not. I can lose myself in work. I build websites and write marketing copy for a living. I spend a lot of my time talking to people through social media. I started the company with a friend. It’s a young company, barely a toddler, wobbling with every tender step, but it’s my baby and I love it. It brings me hope, gives me an escape. It keeps me connected, even at a distance. Even through the fog. My passion has always been storytelling. Before this, I spent my days barely existing within the vacuum of retail. Face-to-face with the beast: the wide-eyed, always moving, shining, smiling, posting, liking public — a world which has begun to feel like some alien planet I’m only temporarily inhabiting. Just passing through. The hot water of the shower eases some of the pressure in my face, and I feel a little more awake after toweling off. Brushing my teeth forces me to smile, if only to check my gums, and here I see the thing in the mirror: the ghost. That’s almost enough to bring the tears back. I shut off the bathroom light and sit on the edge of the shower in darkness, head in hands, breathing deeply. You’re OK. You’re fine. “This too shall pass.” I stand and fumble for the light switch once more, wondering if I’ll still be there in the mirror when the lights come on, or if the ghost will have made me transparent. Will I be hollow on the outside now, too? Surely. I feel hollow. I feel invisible. That’s the hardest part of navigating the fog: waking up on certain days and looking out as a stranger, both to the world around you and within. It’s like standing at a window, watching a muted storm. But the storm is inside your mind, and you’re the only one who can see through the window. My name is Josh, and I struggle with major depressive disorder. I’ve also been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, and in the past I’ve been treated for anxiety. I’ve tried to end my story before, and failed. I’m thankful of that. Even on days like today. Even when the fog draws up behind and before and above my head like a seething ocean wave, I am thankful to be alive. How is that? How is it that I can feel both grateful to be here and desperate to escape? Because of all the lights I’ve found along the way. Because of my wife. If I found only one source of light in all the world to guide me through the fog, it would be her. My wife, the star defying a perfect void. The thought of her grief, her sadness, is enough to keep me here. What it would do to her, if I left. If I gave up. If I let the ghost have me. This is not an easy way to live, but there are days I wake up and the sun really does shine. Those are the days I’m living for. Days like today are hard to navigate, but I make it through by pushing forward. If I glance back over my shoulder, I see the ghost there, waiting in the fog. Whispering. And once again I reply, “Not yet. Not today.” Because that’s the best I can offer. Today I’m choosing the fog. I’m choosing the world behind the window. I’m choosing the lights along the way. Their warmth is my warmth. Their light is my own, my only. I’m always fearful of stealing their light. What if I take too much? Will they become dark, like me? Will they be empty then? Will I become the fog that lingers? Will I become the ghost that whispers? It’s unnatural that the nature of emptiness is the same as fog: it spreads. It’s hard seeing someone so full of happiness and realizing you matter to them. That they love you, yes you, just the way you are. How can someone love something so empty? A thing that is empty wishes to be full. A thing that is full wishes to pour itself out, so that it can be filled once more. The difference is that the full thing knows it will become full again. There’s never any doubt. That’s usually just the way it is. “I am full,” the full thing thinks, “and I will be full again. Here, have some of mine. I insist.” And the empty thing, it takes, because what else is there for an empty thing to do? I am an empty thing, taking. Always taking, stealing. I steal light and warmth and color. And once the light dims, I am empty once more. And so I go on, stumbling through the fog, as hollow and light as water must become so that it may fly. I go on searching for the next light. As I’m writing this, I’m in the fog. But I’m remembering all the clear days behind me and the ones to come. I have hope that they will come. It is that hope to which I cling, for her sake. And for mine. If you find yourself in the fog, the thing to remember is, don’t panic. These clouds, they come and go. They never hang around forever. Keep searching. Find a beacon. Find a light. Find something full to replenish you. It will become full again, I promise. Never be afraid to drink when you need to drink. Steal a little light while you can, and keep looking forward. And if you make it through the fog, light the way for those behind you. Because when you live with a mental illness of any kind, every day is different. Today, I’m wandering. I’m searching. Tomorrow, perhaps I’ll find the light. Perhaps I’ll even get to shine for someone else. Some days, it’s easier to shine. Some days, it’s easier to search. Some days you pour, and some days you drink. Some days, you’re doing a little bit of both. Every day, no matter what, please remember: you are not alone. Even if you can’t see them, the fog is full of wanderers. If you find no one else, find me. I’m out here, too. I’m out here with you. I’m here for you. We can wander (and shine) together. Never forget. The fog is not forever. The light is just over the horizon. Find it. Never forget. I love you. Follow this journey here. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 , the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Getty image via francescoch