A Touch of Darkness

by Hielo

There have been moments of joy in my life, but they've all been fleeting. I have known the love of family, of God, of friends, and if one were to look at my life at the surface level, I truly have no reason to feel like I normally do.

For as far back as I can remember, I've always been plagued with what I've come to know as "a touch of darkness." As a child, I was naturally introverted, introspective, and moody. Those characteristics, combined with my tendencies to be a brooding loner, marked me as being "odd" from a young age. I felt things more deeply than most of the folks around me, and it was often overwhelming to be caught in an emotional rip-tide and not yet have the words to label the problem. It wasn't until I started writing in my later years that I could truly voice the pain inside. As a grade-schooler in the early 80's, society was just on the cusp of understanding that children could suffer from emotional problems..
I moved through most of the typical milestones of childhood, but I always felt like I was anything but normal. I hated talking to other people. I felt safer in the confines of my own skull. I could easily spend hours alone scribbling out my stories or my drawings, but fumbled through the most basic of conversations. My parents were well-intentioned, loving people who sent me to a counselor in grade-school out of the fear that I was on my way to becoming an emotional cripple.

As I grew older, more disjointed, and entered the emotional storms of being a teen-ager, the dark parade continued. I went through both junior high, and high school with the facade of being well-adjusted, but always living with the well-hidden terror that I was somehow insane. As far as I ever knew, "normal" people never thought about killing themselves. Normal people didn't spend hours locked in their rooms, secretly crying and wishing they were dead. Normal people did things like go to class, have friends, enjoy life. I knew, instinctively and through weathering high school, that I was anything but normal. I started my first episodes of full-blown depression, though it was never officially diagnosed. I rarely did any of the typical teen-age antics that get attention. I never got in trouble with the opposite sex, drugs, drinking, or cutting. I never took knives to my wrists, never swallowed pills, or engaged in any self-harm, though I started keeping a notebook where I would scribble down ways to kill myself. I eventually started keeping an unused bottle of pain-killers under my bed that I had procurred from breaking my foot. I never used them, but it felt good to have them, just in case I decided to end it all.

I spent most of my young adulthood battling the nightly demons of depression, anxiety, and eventually started having panic attacks while still in high school. Those were terrifying episodes in which I would literally choke and fold up into a screaming ball of shot nerves and hysterics. I was put on an anti-anxiety drug, and given therapy, and the panic attacks mercifully stopped, but I never out-grew the overwhelming fear involved. And I still have the same problems now.

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