Light can hurt.
Light can overwhelm your senses with its incomprehensible glow, blinding you with its beauty. It is forced upon us with each approaching dawn, often unwanted yet nevertheless unrelenting. The sun cannot stop glowing though, cannot force its shine into cessation. So some are left wishing tomorrow could gestate without us while we shield our eyes, pained with a persistent ache behind our eyelids replacing the peace.
Darkness, however, can be all-encompassing.
Darkness can either paralyze a person in its omnipresence or liberate them from the shackles of the light. When one wishes to avoid the light, escaping to the dark is the alternative.
As children, we used to run to the light, afraid of the monster in the shadows. Yet as growing adolescents, we run from the light, afraid to confront the monster within.
Darkness is an escape, an oblivion of refuge. Our glow dims with wisdom and experience, and we become the shadows we once fled. I hate the light because it contradicts the darkening sanctity of my core - disrupts the balance between my inner being and the surrounding world. I tend to retreat to the darkness, terrified of facing the reflection I may see if I turn on the light. After all, you can walk on the moon, but get too close to the sun and you’ll burn into nothingness.
Escape is often viewed as weakness.
I see it as human.
You must understand that light hurts, but it is also the only convalescence to the pain, the only embrace that shields you from the cold. Hiding is a mere palliative to the central issue, but it is not selfish or weak. It is simply unhealthy.
As a founding member of the Five Towns Saving Lives Youth Coalition Council, I work with other teens of our community to find healthy and effective remedies to the turmoil we silently face, whether that be anxiety, depression, trauma, burnout, substance misuse, or countless others. I was recently introduced to a specific grounding strategy by professionals in psychology, and I encourage you to, instead of dismissing your troubles, utilize these interlacing techniques to healthily manage them and move forward.
We are in the process of launching our “Circle of Five” campaign. Your individual circle, if you wish to participate, will comprise five people: you, three trusted friends, and one adult. You should choose four people with whom you feel completely comfortable, and be sure to let those selected know that they are part of your circle. Your Circle of Five will help you to easily identify trusted confidants when facing emotional distress. Share this self-care program with others in your community and remember, you can be a member of another’s circle, but you, yourself, are the center of your own!
A second helpful key to surpassing one’s darker moments is creating and indulging in a personal safety plan. Safety plans differ as everyone requires unique care. Personalize the following stages on your own document and post in various locations around your house (refrigerators, your room, drawers, as well as print a portable copy to carry with you). The stages include:
- Step 1 - Recognizing the warning signs of a crisis: Jot down the emotions and sensations you typically feel to indicate an impending mental decomposition (for example: anxiety, tension in the muscles, irritation, panic, etc.). Recognizing these feelings will signify a possible breakdown and can hopefully prevent it from transpiring as you go on to follow the next steps.
- Step 2 - Distracting activities you can conduct yourself: List a few activities you can immerse yourself in to distract from this impending crisis (for example: art, reading, listening to music, exercise, go for a walk outside, etc).
- Step 3 - Places to go: Find a place to relax and take a breather. Try to push yourself to do so alongside another person — sometimes, being alone isn’t the best way to cope (for example: your front lawn, the porch, the living room with family, etc.)
- Step 4 - Call those in your Circle of Five: If the previous steps are not effective, refer to the personal list of people you can call to avert your concentration from your distress (for example: a friend, a sibling, or anyone you are sure would initiate a distracting discussion).
- Step 5 - Call for help: For this final stage to be used if all the previous steps prove ineffective, contact your Circle of Five, the people you feel comfortable enough with to talk to about your situation. It is all right to ask for assistance, especially from loved ones and friends who would be more than willing to help.
The coalition is also launching a campaign for emotional awareness entitled “All the Feels.” We are introducing this to several schools throughout the Five Towns. This can be your opportunity to showcase your personal interpretation of any feeling of your choice (love, anxiety, sadness, anger, excitement, etc.) through art of any medium (painting, photography, dance video, drawing, etc.). Everyone who participates will be automatically placed in a raffle for a chance to win a prize. Register by April 18th, 2022, by contacting our adult supervisor, Marissa Ruggiero. Submissions are due by Monday, May 22nd, with an art exhibit to follow!
I hope for you to create your own Circle of Five, safety plan, and possibly even register for the “All the Feels” campaign. If you so please, we would be ecstatic to welcome you into our Coalition. If you wish, check out our website and contact Marisa Ruggiero to assist in our attempts to spread awareness of youth substance misuse and positive mental health.
Marisa Ruggiero’s Email: email@example.com
Five Towns Saving Lives Youth Coalition Council Website: https://www.savinglives5townscoalition.org/
Light does not have to hurt, and, through these opportunities, we may finally be able to look towards the sun and feel as though its light reflects the peace we feel inside.