Thursday, February 3, 2011

Darkness Falls Over the Land

Occasionally in a fairy tale, something will go wrong and to emphasize how bad things are becoming for the hero, the author will tell you that “darkness fell over the land.”  Very spooky.

I don’t know about you, but there have been so many times during my fertility journey that darkness fell over my land.  I would be going about my business, chewing my nails through my 2 week wait and WHAMO!  I would get the phone call from the nurse that my beta test came back and it was negative.  Immediately, a darkness would fall over me.  If I was at work, I would usually have to leave work because once the sobbing started, there was no getting it to stop.  I would go through all of the stages of grief over and over in rapid succession, thinking I was finished with a step (i.e.- bargaining), only to find myself promising to start going to church or to volunteer more time to charity if God could only make the test wrong…if I could just be pregnant a little later than expected.  Then, inevitably, the day would come (for me, usually more than a week after I stopped the progesterone) that I would get my body’s confirmation that I was, indeed, not pregnant…again.  For me, that final nail in the coffin usually would plunge me fully into the abyss.

I fear depression…actual clinical need-to-take –medicine-to-function depression, because I experienced it when I was younger.  It is like being in the darkest room imaginable, where you can hear the sounds of life going on around you but you can’t see even a speck of light that would allow you to orient yourself to the outside world.

The darkness that I call depression now is not quite the same.  I feel myself getting close to the edge of the cliff into darkness and I know if I fall down I might not get out of bed for two days or I might not be able to stay focused at work if I can drag myself there.  But I don’t need medication and the darkness always passes.  Still, feeling myself at the edge is scary.  And it is easier than ever for me to get there now. 

I also frequently have to watch as the darkness creeps over my friends.  It breaks my heart because there is very little you can do to help lift that darkness for someone else.  Like a fog, it rolls in, sucking out all of the happiness and positive energy, and rolls out, leaving you exhausted but alive. 

I’ve found it helpful to remember that there is a purpose to the darkness.  First, the darkness leaves you alive and stronger than you were before.  It hurts so badly, but it doesn’t kill you.  And, as clich├ęd as it is, the saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is absolutely true.  The second thing about the darkness is that it is somewhat predictable.  You can usually feel when it is coming and brace yourself (at least a little). Although no amount of will power (or at least not my brand of will power) stops the darkness in its tracks, if I feel it coming and I turn to my support systems and get myself back to yoga and meditation practices, I can sometimes make the darkness bearable and maybe even shorter in duration.  The third thing I will say about the darkness is that it isn’t all bad.  It feels like it is when you are surrounded, but the darkness is actually a totally natural response emotional trauma.  It’s there for a reason.  A lot of what that darkness is made of is grief and sorrow – two emotions that need to be allowed to run their course before a person can truly move beyond a psychological trauma.  In that sense, the darkness is cathartic and necessary.

I’ve just made it through a darkness.  Reading back through my posts, I can see that the fog was still dissipating, even though I had thought I was fine.  I’m starting to move beyond nervous, and beginning to get a little excited about starting our donor egg cycle.  There’s still moments of panic, but now I can breathe them away more easily than before.  For months, I’ve spent a good portion of times under the cloud cover.  It feels good to know that I am slipping into sunny weather, again.

So, the next time you see the clouds rolling in, (to quote the ever-wise Little Orphan Annie), just tuck in your chin and grin and say “The sun will come out tomorrow.”  Because just like in the fairy tales, the clouds will eventually roll away, allowing that sun to shine and the birds to sing.  Hope will flourish again, when you are ready for it.  And you will appreciate it all the more because you remember what the opposite side of hope feels like, making the sunny days that much sweeter.


One Cycle at a Time said...

Beautiful post! I really like the image of darkness falling over the land. What a perfect description!

I also think of it as in The Neverending Story....Remember, THE NOTHING would roll in and destroy whatever had been there...

Good luck on the donor cycle!

Princess Wahna Bea Mama said...

I love the Neverending Story when I was young. i hadn't thought of that movie in years, but you are right. It is like so much like "The Nothing." Thank you for reminding me of that visual...very useful.

China Doll said...

Loved this post.. The darkness explains those feelings so well.. when nothing you can do will make you feel better - you just have to wait for it to pass. Thanks for this post xx