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Accepting the Light

Tonight begins my week of overnight shifts, so my posts may be a bit shorter than they usually are, depending upon how busy I get while I am awake and how much rest I can get, otherwise.

One of my co-workers sent me a link to an insightfully helpful Facebook group back in October. It is dedicated to messages of positivity that are conducive to building self-worth. Combining expressive works of art and prose, The Artidote was founded by a man named Jovanny Varela Ferreyra, a mental health activist whose philanthropic work is devoted to providing a community-based social media experience where empathy and self-awareness can be fostered through artistic storytelling. The Artidote was founded in 2014 on Facebook, but it has since expanded throughout the social media sphere, including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat.

The Artidote was recommended to me by the same co-worker I previously wrote about, whose unsolicited efforts to connect and offer succor in my time of need I credit as a turning point in my recovery. A few of my former co-workers have been continuous sources of encouragement, as well. I have been truly inspired and uplifted by their messages of hope, understanding, and healing. I have been avoiding using names, here, to spare any of them unwanted notice, but they are heroes in my story, and I feel they deserve some recognition for the roles they have played in keeping me upright when I so often feel myself falling down.

Thank you so much Taylor, Janet, Jodie, Sally, and Stephanie. Surely there are many more that I have not listed, and please do not take an omission to mean that you aren’t valued. I needed to specifically address these five folks because they reached out to me at key moments, unknowing of the power their simple acts of kindness had in correcting my course precisely when it began to go astray.

I begin seven-day week of overnight shifts tonight at 10:45pm, so I am resting during the day to prepare my circadian biological clock as best as I can. When I awoke this afternoon, I was intent upon writing and publishing a blog post based upon the first impressions I had immediately upon reopening my eyes to face a new day. I had a few messages pending on my phone, so I checked them before I did anything else. One of these messages led me to Facebook, and that led me to slowly sift through my news feed.

For every one positive thing I find on Facebook, there are at least ten negative things.

Recovering from depression is hampered by some of the repeated messaging I am finding myself bombarded with via social media, and frankly the mass media in general. I am, through aspects of my being that I have no control over (such as my gender, my sexuality, my race, my age, my religious beliefs, and any number of other factors that I truly have no agency in deciding for myself) consistently seeing articles, memes, and imagery encouraging me to be ashamed of myself.

There are some truly mean-spirited, hostile, antagonistic messages being broadcast through social media, and I suppose that has always been the case, but it seems to have gotten especially volatile and caustic this year.

Sometimes, it feels like self-sabotage even maintaining a social media presence. I want to feel that I belong, that I have a part to play, but I also recognize the fragilities that are exposed the moment I log in and start wading through all the bad news in search for a glimmer of hope and positivity. I find what I am searching for, however, every single time. I just have to navigate minefields designed to tear me down at a time when it takes everything I have just to keep myself upright.

The fact that I am standing as tall as I am is something I owe to my therapist, my psychologist, my family and friends, and my own hard work and diligence over the course of the past eight months. I have slipped into too many lows for me to count, and I am very susceptible to the darkness that the media influences. The fact is, though, that the occasional spark of light amid that darkness is worth seeking out.

The Artidote is one such example, a beacon of light pushing through the gray, a guiding glow to follow when depression, anxiety, and PTSD make the path hard to see. There are, of course, many other such resources to be found online. It merely falls upon me to accept the light whenever, wherever, or however it comes my way.

You can click any of the above images to be brought to the Artidote Facebook page. You can also get there through this link.

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