Like every other special word, phrase or quote that has come into my life at some point or another, The Dying Fire’s meaning for me has changed and evolved as I have. I first got the name for my Tumblr page when I was 14 and a freshman in high school. I was experiencing my first prolonged period of major depression and feeling horribly sorry for myself. I didn’t have much of a basis for mental health, and asking for help wasn’t a part of my vocabulary. The Dying Fire arose as a place I could go to post my angsty pictures and poems and connect to other people who just got it.
A solace in a time where I was having difficulty finding light in any place, my days were spent in darkness.
My depression looked a lot different back then, without support and the help of mental health professionals and anti-depressants. It was dark, foreboding and when I was in it I was sure it would never end.
The darkness never lasted forever, and every time I’d find myself in a random thought looking up at the sky and noticing its color. Slowly, I’d feel more like myself over the coming days and weeks. Looking back on those periods of darkness were painful and confusing without help.
After any particularly long episode, I remember feeling as if a cloud was always waiting behind me, in the shadows of the day, until it could come and scoop me up again. I was unfamiliar with disassociation and I had no clue why I was always tired… I was pretty sure something went wrong in my head, but I couldn’t figure out how to talk to anyone about it.
Nowadays, people often reflect back that I look sad. I like to say I have resting sad face, perhaps a consequence of years prior, or perhaps it’s just my bone structure. I think when people recognize sadness in my expression, they’re mistaking it with a sort of grief or processing. As I said a little bit ago, my depression looked a lot different back then, but the path was and still is, painful, jagged, beautiful, and not finished.
Today, I speak about my mental health, to apparently anyone who will listen (or read). I do this because I know what happens when I stay quiet.
I try not to hide in the shadows, no matter how tempting, it’s there where I get caught in the clouds.
A cliche for sure, but I’m here now, in a lot of light, because I walked through the darkness and I practice staying willing to walk through the darkness. My ashes are my guidance, the path that leads the way to new life, new lessons.
Only from a dying fire would I have found them.