There was a time in my life I found myself asking; “What if the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t real?”.
After losing someone that was very dear to me, I fell into a deep depression. Many nights I spent idle, occupying my time by reliving the past inside my own mind. My thoughts ran in a continuous loop. In a way, it felt mechanical and extremely overwhelming. It was like a movie that never seemed to end, and you’re literally sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for the credits to roll. Except it didn’t.
Instead of rolling the credits, the film just started from the beginning. So you just sit there exhausted wondering if, and when, it’s ever going to end. This was a feeling I became accustomed to. I could not muster up the idea of finding meaning or value in the life I was living. I refused to perceive reality for what it was so instead I suppressed my emotions. Quickly realizing how grim, or uninviting, that can feel, I felt tidal waves of sadness, emptiness, and meaninglessness.
Feeling no connection to anything, I lost inspiration and thought there was nothing to strive for anymore. There were so many cracks in this false, at times oppressive, reality that it was so easy for me to fall through them every time.My coping mechanism of choice was spending a lot of time alone.
I isolated myself in my room but the hopelessness I felt and of it all was crushing, inescapable really. So I picked up a hobby. I indulged myself in reading all kinds of self-help books and writings about spirituality. One day as I was scrolling on the internet for some good books to order, I came across a quote that changed my life forever. “The wound is the place where the Light enters you” (Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi). Reading this immediately sent my mind into a frenzy and I began to think, honestly, what the hell does that even mean? But after long hours of replaying the quote inside my head, I began to understand. I started to recognize that depression, which I hated with all my heart for stealing my life away, was also one of my biggest blessings.
I started to understand that my depression wasn’t the real problem; depression was just a symptom of it. With that, acknowledged that maybe my sorrow was not as bad as it was sought out to be. As human beings, we are conditioned to think that despair is a form of weakness and must be avoided at all costs. People put forth so much effort to escape their lives that they create this illusion. They do this to avoid falling right through one of those gaping cracks and find themselves looking into the false reality they created from the outside. In other words, the same predicament I found myself in. My depression has also been a portal to my awakening. Fighting this duel with an invisible enemy was simply a tool, used by my soul, to let me know that something wasn’t right and to make me pay close attention to it.
There was something inside me that needed to be healed. It was time for me to decide whether I wanted to continue to live in my pain and suffering or choose to destroy the illusion and free myself from it once and for all instead. I faced a crossroad I wasn’t prepared for but I chose to free myself. Depression and awakening are two sides of the same door. On one side is the total possibility of despair, hopelessness, and isolation, and a look through to the other side reveals the inner peace, forgiveness, and happiness. I learned to embrace my grief in order for me to heal instead of acting out on it or doing the opposite by suppressing it. My sadness was just the messenger, telling me what particular circumstances, which particular people, including myself, was being neglected.
The long period of numbness was just a doorway for me to feel again. With time I began to pick up the fragments of my broken soul back up. Building on the ground-up and reinventing myself completely. Reflecting upon that experience, the question that has made itself home in the back of my mind was answered. The light at the end of the tunnel is not an illusion.
The tunnel is. The tunnel represented the mind frame of doubt and constant misery that paralyzed me for years. The belief I would suffer forever. But enlightenment waited on the other side of my darkness, that somehow, after the suffering, transformed me into a better being.