Let’s get real a little bit here and consider The Darkness.
The Darkness is what I call the times when the emotions of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) meld together like the screams of several wild animals, followed by either disassociated behavior or a numb, emotional stupor.
Hopelessness sets in – will I ever escape this feeling? Dread comes creeping – will this get worse?
Alone or with others, being in The Darkness is our own personal Hell. Many of us self-isolate, medicate, blast our favorite medication of healing music through headphones and wait – wait for The Darkness to pass.
My primal fear in these times is summed up in the Nietzsche quote: “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”
We know the monster we fight is inside ourselves, jammed into our consciousness by trauma, nurtured by a wounded sense of self.
What happens when we gaze too long into the hurt and pain both done to us and done to others? I fear getting too deep into that hole to ever return.
There is no time for distraction here – by the time the Darkness settles in, there is only room for self-care.
I have a list of songs on You Tube that ‘take me down’ when I need them to – to confront The Darkness, and then songs that lead me back up; those that strike a chord of hope in me. Music, leading me by the hand, like a firm but loving friend, through the Hell and back again, is my salvation.
Years ago, Annie Lennox while with the Eurythmics, sang a song, No More I Love You’s,’ which could have been written for escaping The Darkness. I listen to it, and it drives me to the ground.
I used to have demons in my room at night
Desire, despair, desire
So many monsters
If you have BPD or any of a host of mental illnesses, you know about the monsters like you know about The Darkness. They take the place of people that have hurt us and the deep regret we have for people we have hurt; the missed opportunities, lost jobs, friendships, self-harm, so many regrets and recriminations.
Nobody will take The Darkness and the monsters from us; we must do this for ourselves.
And you know what mommy?
Everybody was being real crazy
The monsters are crazy
There are monsters outside
For me, this is not a song of despair, it’s a song of redemption, for Lennox’s soaring angelic vocals remind me that the language is leaving me in silence (the passing of the pain) and changes are shifting outside the world (we survive and grow more in knowledge of those things which haunt us).
It’s probably not exactly what Lennox intended, but it’s what I take from the song. At the end of song, I feel redemption.
In many BPD online support groups, there’s always a thread about the music we use to fight back against the The Darkness. It seems clear, at least to me, that music is our greatest weapon. Some of us have our favorite playlists always within reach, just in case.
Sometimes The Darkness is so bad we want to hurt ourselves (and do) or think of taking our own lives (some sadly do). But I always remember The Darkness is our greatest challenge and to give in, to give up, is to let those who inflicted the trauma, who wield the stigma against us – win.
The Darkness passes at some point. I fight it with my music. I let myself break down to feel the depths of its desperation. And then, somehow, some way, I rise again, wipe my eyes, look up at the sun, and begin again.