I guess if I'm being honest the first thing that comes to mind for me when I think about darkness is mental illness/disorder. Specifically for me, depression and social anxiety - actually, at the first visit I finally was able to make to a mental health counseling center I was told it sounded more like agoraphobia than anything else. All I know is that what I experience on a daily basis is beyond the point of just being an introvert, or just being shy. It's a thing where I am actually afraid to be physically around other people, to be seen or heard verbally, to interact at all really with anyone that I don't do so with on a regular basis. I've always been this way to some extent, but never so much as I have become.
Over the last few years, circumstances have changed for me a lot with location changes, relationship and financial related things, and it's all piled on top of the problem. I lost touch completely with what few closer friends I had in my hometown when I moved several states away. I became basically isolated where I was, and I felt stuck. The one person I thought I could trust with everything had let the facade drop, and I felt like I had no one. To keep it from getting too lengthy, I finally got out of the situation and returned to stay with my father a little over a year ago. But I was like an empty shell of myself, and things never really improved much.
I lost interest in.. pretty much everything I ever cared about. The only things that could somewhat provide a distraction were video games and a little artsy type stuff. People get frustrated with you when you're a 20 something girl with no job stuck at home playing video games and drawing pictures. And it hurts like hell, because I would give anything to have the confidence and self-esteem people seem to think I should have .. To be able to do the things that most normal people have no problem with doing every day. To not feel completely alone 90% of the time.
So it came to this point where all I really felt comfortable with as far as interacting with other people was to do so through guilds in the games I played or maybe forums.. Until it became a chore even to do that anymore. Because people behind their keyboards are still people. And people can be judgmental and hateful sometimes, even when it's "just a game". (And guilds started utilizing their VoIP services more and ignoring the guild chatters so that sucked for me and others like me.) Then when I found Reddit... That kind of hindered it even more for me, I think, just because I saw some of the people that I agreed with or empathized with getting shot down with the downvotes - hidden under a mountain of cat pictures, dad jokes, and NSFWs. >.> Granted, cat pictures and dad jokes are great, but.. Well, you get my point.
I got desperate after a while for someone to talk to. Loneliness and isolation take a toll on you. Had no idea where to go for this and knew I couldn't really afford a therapist at this point. I won't go into great detail, but just as a suggestion - Reddit is probably not the best place to go and post this kind of thing if the title format asks you to include your age and gender. Many pms from mostly males, light sexual harrassment included. I think out of a hundred or so pms I found one decent person to talk to for a little while, but I lost internet connection for a while and he lived in Brazil. Super lucky with these things, yes I am.
Anyway, so the good part to all this. (I really did not intend to make this a text wall of woe when I started, seems to have turned out that way anyway though. Apologies.) How do I push it back?
Like I said.. I'm into artsy stuff. Have been since I was a kid. I never thought I was all that good at it, maybe just mediocre at best and I've never had formal training aside from the required art classes in middle/high school. But apparently some people have seen some of my things and liked it. Told me I should be doing something with it. I felt like crap because I didn't think I could, or that it would be good enough.
This chance meeting happened between a relative and this couple in another town, who just happened to have written a children's book and had been looking for an illustrator. The relative told them about me, took their e-mail and said they'd have me write them. It was the first thing that I had actually had a good feeling about in a long time, like when I was told about it some tiny spark started to flicker inside me, and I knew I had to get in touch with them. I wrote them that night..
And then my internet went out for a week.
I spent the whole week being nervous and afraid they would find someone else. Not even kidding. They had been looking for months and months and hadn't found anyone, it was just my luck they would end up finding another person to do it during the one week that my internet was out. This is how my mind is working right now. I know. The sense, there is none to be had.
Anyway, after that week passed I checked my email and they had given me their number to call them (which I freaked out about because again, I don't normally talk to people, but I did it). I called. I was nervous. I explained the nervousness/anxiety. They were extremely sweet. They see some of my drawings and like the style. They want me to do the project. We get off the phone and I cry for like an hour out of the overload of nervousness and gratitude. It was a good day.
It's been a month now I've been working on this project, and it honestly has helped me in a way I never would have thought possible. It keeps me busy. My thoughts are focused on getting the next page sketched and setting small deadlines for myself to have x amount done this week. I'm still mostly alone but I feel it less. I get excited when I'm finished with a page and it's come out the way I saw it in my head - and I don't normally get excited. I went to lunch with my sister the other day and afterward she tells me that I look somehow happier than usual, like she can see -me- peeking out of that shell a little. And even if that's only the tiniest scoot in a good direction, I'm okay with that because that felt good to hear.
So.. Yeah I would say my dark has been pushed back a little. It's being stubborn about it, mind you, but it's slowly inching back. I'm drawing something every day now, even if it's not specifically for the project. Even if it's not something I intend to finish, or even if it's not something I want anyone to see but myself. I listen to more upbeat music while I do it, because I know it helps my mood. The cheesier the better. Seriously. Try listening to "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones or some 80's-esque synth pop and -not- smiling (either at the song, or at how badly you want to eyeroll) while doodling in a sketchbook. It's fun (wow, how long has it been since I used that word?), and for once right now I feel like things are starting to come together as they should be. It's made me -want- better for myself and helped me start to make some of those hard steps, even if I struggle to do so.