The name of this project is truly fitting. Implied by the title of my own piece, this story is centred in those shadows that creep out just before twilight, existing through the night even when the moon is at its apex, surviving until the palette of dawn crests across the sky. Even with the light of day, however, those shadows are still there, but the pressing darkness holds no weight.
Books were, and forever will be, my light, anchoring me to hope and all that is good in the world; all that is good in me.
Personally, that dark episode took the form of depression. A suitable image, one that reflects the situation well. I was fifteen when I was first diagnosed, though I had struggled with the burden of anxiety and depression since the age of fourteen. I was relentlessly bullied by my peers at school, which resulted in me dropping out. I couldn’t take it anymore.
What a relief to be free! Free from the crippling worries that kept me up at night, fearful of what the weekday would bring, no respite when I returned home as I knew it wouldn’t last, and I would have to return to the mockery, the whispers, the laughter, the humiliation.
The illusion of freedom quickly shattered.
I became lonely, confined to my house, a prisoner trapped within four walls. With each passing day, the refuge I had clung to so dearly became a warped nightmare. I couldn’t face the outside world because I was so embedded in my own head. I didn’t leave my house for six months straight. Not once. I had no contact with the outside world. Eventually, my mum had to take me to A&E in the early hours of the morning because my body was shutting down and I was so convinced that I was dying. I was having multiple panic attack every day. I was suicidal. I was depressed. I was hopeless.
Then I started to read.
The words and tales of others became my crutch. Straddling the planes between worlds, I felt more confident to take the necessary steps to help me with my recovery. I no longer felt trapped, for each time I opened a book, I was transported somewhere else. I no longer felt alone, for each time I opened a book, I journeyed alongside characters experiencing their own growth, which helped me accept and understand my circumstances. I no longer felt powerless, for each time I took a pen to a page, I felt in complete and utter control.
As I navigate the treacherous seas of life, words and stories keep me anchored, stopping me from floating away and getting tossed about on the waves, drowning in the murky waters. For the first time in years, something gave me a glimmer of hope. That light was ignited on a wick of words in a candle of creation.
I’m nineteen now. I’m still here, still around, still fighting my demons with the mighty Anduril, or Sting, or Longclaw, or Goldryn. Books didn’t just give me hope through the recovery stages of that dark period, but they have given me hope for the rest of my life. I read books. I write stories. I make sense of the world through my own tales and the tales of others.
Someday, I hope to offer others what those books consistently give back to me; life.