Mental Health, Wellness

March 10, 2021

Steps to climb out of the Dark Place

I'm WillowjakMama!

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. Now it's my favourite place to be.

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Last week, I was talking to my teenage daughter. Things were tough for her, and she was in a dark place. The soonest she could get in with her therapist was more than two weeks out, and so I wanted to share with her some of my strategies for when I go into the Dark Place.

I have a long and varied history with depression. Like most women I know, I have dealt with it in some way, shape or form for most of my life. It all came to a head for me in 2010 (for a variety of factors) and in fact I was experiencing suicidal thoughts. So you know, it was pretty bad.

Since then, I have had small resurgences of depression. Earlier this year, I said to a friend of mine, “Once you’ve experienced depression, it’s always an option. Almost a comforting one, too, because you know what to expect from it.” And you know, when depression comes around to visit I’ve learned that it’s okay to welcome it. I let it come in, I offer it some tea and I ask what depression is telling me.

So when my daughter was suffering and couldn’t get to her go-to support, I stepped in to try and breach the gulf between her present and well-being. I shared with her that it’s perfectly fine to feel overwhelmed and scared and sad. It’s normal to be frustrated by life as a teenager in general, never mind the pressures of COVID and quarantine isolation, adding in social isolation and feeling like you can’t keep up at school… it’s a lot. “It’s not the childhood I thought I was signing you up for,” I said, “and I’m pretty sure you were expecting all of this!” She agreed she was not.

I shared with her that when things get tough for me, mentally I let the feelings wash over me for a bit, and when I feel like I’ve had enough of being down, I start to think about how I could move this energy up and out of me. We have to take responsibility for our emotional health, and the first step for me is recognizing how I’m feeling. Once I’ve got that, I ask myself: “Do I like this? Do I want to stay here in this emotional climate?”

Now: the trick with that question is if I want to get out of where I am, do I know what can make that happen? What I said to my daughter was, you need to choose something now that will help you move to where you want to be.

For me, I have a series of things to turn to when I’m in the dark place. I love to have a bath, or do some paper crafting; sometimes I like to knit. Often it helps to connect with friends, other times I have some movies I like to turn to. Over the years, I’ve curated a list of activities that I know will start to move me from where I am to where I want to be. So when the dark happens, and I’m ready to move out of the emotional climate I’m in, I turn to those things.

They don’t always work right away, though. Sometimes they work for a moment or two, and then I need to do something else. The point for me is that I make a conscious choice every step along the way to get to a place where I feel more myself and more capable of dealing with my life.

Now: I mean, she’s a teenager. Who knows if she was listening? About an hour later, I did hear her playing her saxophone for the first time in about a year, though, so I’m calling it a win.

Michelle Scrimgeour-Brown

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Hi, I'm Stacey.
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Willowjak Blog 

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. We chat about themes that are often ignored and voices that aren't often given a chance at the mic. Now it's my favourite place to be. 

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