It all started on a cold December night. A war was being waged within me.
Each morning, I’d wake up feeling like I had lead flowing through my veins, helping gravity do its job.
I’d drag myself out of bed, doing what I had to do. I was living my passion, surrounded by people I loved, but it felt empty.
Somewhere, in a dusty corner of my being, I knew this too would pass, but there was doubt. I wondered if something had gone horribly wrong in the control room of the Universe.
Maybe an operator had grown an affinity for Vodka, who knows? But I was worried, because obviously this wasn’t meant to be happening.
I was following my excitement, following my heart, yet here I was, surrounded by thoughts that swirled around me like tiny demons.
I had entered what some call the dark night of the soul.
The year was 2013.
I lost all motivation, hope, and belief in myself.
I didn’t want to do anything. Everything seemed meaningless.
Life had turned from technicolor to a dull gray. It felt like a cosmic vacuum cleaner had sucked all hope from my system.
At first I thought it was a passing thing. But it stuck around, challenging my patience, nudging me to face my feelings.
Only later did I realize that I was forced to re-examine everything I believed in; to determine what was important to me, and what was not.
In the beginning, I resisted. I watched TV series, read books, and tried to run away.
I even stopped meditating, which was a mistake, because meditation had brought me to this dismantling of my inner world, and meditation would get me out.
Then a shift occurred.
I had the following thought: “I give up. I surrender. Let whatever happens happen. If I need to go broke, so be it. If I need to die, so be it.”
After that, I felt the urge to write. Not articles. Not essays. Nothing for the public. Write in a journal. Explore my thoughts.
On Feb 6th, 2013, I wrote my first entry. I began exploring what I was feeling. The first lines of that entry read:
“Any string attached to money comes back and strangles joy when I’m not aware of it. Yet, each strangle teaches. I may be left without oxygen, but filled with wisdom. I try to force [progress] because I fear the changing tide of the future.”
I explored anything and everything that came to mind. As I wrote, I noticed patterns in my thinking; patterns of fear, of defending what I was doing, and of needing permission to do what I felt called to do.
I share this with you because I want to show you that no one is above challenges. We are all human, which means we all keep growing, and we all experience growing pains.
This isn’t about labels like depression. This is about embracing what you’re feeling, and diving deeper into yourself.
No matter how many gold coins you have in the bank, you will experience fear, doubt, and uncertainty.
Going through this helped me see.
This period, while painful, helped me open my heart further. And as I look around today, I see people embracing who they truly are more and more.
The only reason to live is to follow what makes your heart sing.
I don’t know where the road will take me. No one does, and that’s what scares us. But I bring myself back to the present moment and remember that I don’t have to know.
All I have to do is follow the breadcrumbs, to follow my excitement, and to do my best.
That is all that is required, because that is all that is possible.
The writing kept giving.
I kept writing in my journal, exploring my thoughts, asking questions.
Every few pages, I would write down a sentence that felt different. It’s as if it came from a different part of me.
These sentences nudged me in a certain direction. They were like coaching sessions with my ballpoint pen.
The first sentence I wrote told me to get back into my regular meditation practice. The next one told me to look in a book on my book shelf (A Path with Heart).
When I got stuck in unhelpful mental patterns, I picked up my pen and put it down in ink.
Many of our feelings come from our thoughts, and the thoughts that wreak havoc are distorted. Writing them down helps reveal their true nature.
I was forced to swallow my own medicine.
I harp about the importance of small steps, of believing in yourself, and of following your heart.
This experience forced me to dive deeper into myself. I cultivated a deeper trust in life. I don’t know if there’s some kind of energy moving us around, like the Force in Star Wars, but it feels that way.
I was forced to surrender to what I was feeling, because there was no escaping it.
Once I stopped trying to run away, and embraced the fear, anxiety, and dread, it began to unravel.
It didn’t happen right away, but being intensely present was like cutting through the thick sludge of dread with a sword.
There was light. There was hope.
A glimmer at first. Then a rush of light.
As I write this, years later, I’m in a more accepting place, and I am grateful for what I went through.
These periods of darkness keep me humble, keep me looking inside for what no longer belongs, and keep me deepening the trust I have in life.
So don’t run away from it. Embrace it fully.
So what does all this mean for you?
It means that when you go after what you love, and especially if you’re into meditation and inner work, your demons will come banging at your door. And they may bring friends.
It isn’t fun.
You will want them to go away. But the sooner you face them, the sooner you’ll realize that you can handle their fear-mongering.
These bouts of fear, pits of depression, or whatever you want to call them, are signs that old baggage is being tossed into the incinerator.
We’ve been taught to avoid all negativity and sadness, but the key isn’t to run away or suppress what you feel. Instead, it’s to embrace your internal experience.
Sometimes you need to rest and spend time looking inside yourself. It’s easy to forget this in our get-more-done culture.
If you need to work with a professional, do so, but don’t shrink away from your feelings.
Face them head on. Write about them.
Explore the dark corners of your psyche.
And notice that you are greater than any of your fears. You are strong enough to handle them.
You are strong enough to travel the path that calls you.
All the best,
Johnny Sawyer says
You should write poetry. You write like a poet.
Who knows. Maybe some day…
Marcio CS says
Henri, i’m feeling kinda like this these last weeks. I’m in a black hole now too, looking for my essence, re-thinking about what it does matter in my life, all my motivations. I also have my pen and notebook. Hope this reading can help me. Thanks for one more inspiring text.
Keep on exploring and writing, looking for what this darkness is trying to show you.
“Sometimes you need to rest and spend time looking inside yourself. It’s easy to forget this in our get-more-done culture.”
==> Definitely something for me to consider.
“It means that when you go after what you love, your inner demons will come banging at your door.”
==> Sure, it’s true. I’m already facing it I think. But I know it’s all going to be worth it.
Thank so much for sharing your deep thoughts on this one, Henri. And I agree with Johnny about your writing. It’s hard to believe how far your grasp of the English language has come as a result of blogging.
Writing consistently will do that to you. Oh, and reading fiction. Thanks Jeremy!
Very uplifting words indeed! Just what I have been feeling for the last few days. But your advice focusses on ‘I’. What to do when its ‘We’, a family that’s dependent on you and you want to chart your own path, but the fear of failure and going broke haunt you?
Take small steps while you support your family. No need to quit your job or do anything radical. Work with what you’ve got.
You are such an amazing writer. The way you can capture the image of depression so succinctly is truly graceful. Can’t wait for your next book.
Muchas gracias, Sallianne 🙂
Good article Henri, everyone experiences fear of some kind, more often than not. One thing ai learned a long time ago is that when you face your fears, you become fearless. It’s one important part to overcome our fears. I can see a slight change in your inspiration and style of writting. Our experiences can sure make us better of what we already are. Keep it going man!
Well put, Alex!
Thanks so much for this self-disclosure text.I can really relate to it. “Our feelings come from our thoughts, and the thoughts that wreak havoc are distorted.”
Henri, this sentence is simply brilliant!!!
Thanks for reading, and commenting, Jeanette!
This was an amazing post, Henri.
I’m happy that you show people here that, just because you have reached some of your goals, and in your case built a successful website, doesn’t mean all your fears go away.
Whether you’re just starting, or well on your way, things will still get in your way, and those doubts and demons will still be trying to pull you down into the depths of failure.
To see someone who is still facing their fears after all this time writing is inspiring to someone like me who is just getting started in this world of online writing.
So thank you, Henri, for writing this post.
One of the reasons I’m so open about what I do (except that it challenges me) is exactly because most people hide this side of them. It makes everyone believe that we shouldn’t be feeling what we’re feeling, or going through what we’re going through.
Hola Henri, me encanta tu sinceridad. A nadie le gusta pasar por tiempos oscuros, pero sabes, entre más oscura es la noche más estrellas se ven 🙂
Hehe. I love that. Thanks Laura 😉
If you don’t understand Spanish, the rough translation is: “The darker the night, the more stars you see.”
Oh Henri – Everybody who has ever experienced or who is currently existing in a state of depression/feelings of unworthiness should read this and take heart. This post is one of the most searingly honest and beautiful blog/emails from you I have ever read. Maybe it’s because I bought into all those labels. For so long I allowed them to limit me …So much so that I hardly existed as ‘me’ anymore. And while I was slowly and apathetically painting myself out of my own very existence …I was not aware the Depression that excruciatingly painful, life sucked out feeling was a call, THE call from my Big Beautiful Courageous and Mighty Soul – calling me into something more….the Expression of me….I know it sounds trite but all we ever have to do IS love and accept ourselves. We came here for the the sole/soul purpose of joyful expansion…For the longest time I was just a little bit out of alignment with who I am and who came to be. That’s all….Sent with much love and the deepest appreication. Peta
Beautiful comment. Thanks Peta!
Thank you so much for sharing this. I it can be hard to share what we think others will see as weakness but I believe that it makes us stronger and helps others see that they are not alone. We are meant to learn and grow from these moments and to share them with others. Thank you for the wonderful reminder!
Your comment reminded me of something Brené Brown said: “Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.”
Juho Tunkelo says
Thanks for putting this out there, Henri. I’ve certainly been there, and back… No easy path, but always new discoveries to be made. Kudos for pulling through!
Almost fiction-like start to the post.. hooked. 🙂
Definitely. Thanks Juho!
And yes, I have a thing for fiction 😉
I agree so much with what George said! LOL and yes, thanks for sharing this.
What you said about needing to rest and look inside – that’s what I’ve been fighting with. I can feel myself being pulled for more and more quiet time, but then I feel guilty and anxious that I’m not ‘doing’ things on my to-do list. I struggle to allow myself that time and give myself the permission to do that soul work. Sigh… 🙂 Thanks for offering these words of support and validation…it’s appreciated!
Sounds like what I went through. What worked for me was to be present with the voice that wanted me to both rest and then do more. It’s a bit schizophrenic, so go easy on it. Focus on the awareness behind it all.
Dave Hughes says
Thank you for being brave enough to share this. I think it resonates with almost everyone.
Sometimes I’m reminded that no matter how “perfect” a life you try to create with what you’re doing, where and how you live, who you have in your life, etc., life will never become this perfect paradise in which every day is simply wonderful. I suspect that this would actually get boring after a while, and we would stop growing. There will always be challenges, and there will always be days when you feel down.
I think you’re right (re: boredom). For me it’s been about saying yes to the way life truly is. Thanks Dave!
I’m 40 year old Greek reader of you. I don’t know very much English but I felt some way next to you. The last four years here in Greece we live the worst joke of our lives. Four years looks more than a distance unit than a time one. 4 years are the distance between dreams that gone and bankruptcy I’m living right now. it’s painfull to wake up every morning look yours children eyes and have no answers, no hope, no milk to drink every day, only disaster and desperation. I feel that I have the right to dream on, I have the right to keep fighting, I have the right to hope that God is above all this! We are humans as you said, friendship and love is that we have in common. If you visit Greece I will be glad to meet you. Once more sorry for my English. Thanks for your inspirational and powerfull post!
Your English is just fine. Thanks for sharing your story. And I hope things get better over there!
Fantastic post! Im currently going through this right now and your experiences are helping me a lot, along with your words. One thing I have learned from you recently is the fact that these negative feelings inside are there to tell you something is wrong. So seek out what is right within you. Napoleon Hill said something along these lines, “to conquer, you must conquer yourself”. Thanks again!
Exactamente. Look at what it’s trying to tell you. Don’t push it away, but give it a hug. Thanks Jacob!
Beautiful post Henri. One of my favourites from you. Your writing is definitely where your soul thrives 🙂
We are one big onion and as we grow we peel off a new layer. It is in the bravery of allowing ourselves to unpeel where we can reveal more and more of our true selves. The sooner we face our demons, the sooner we can shine.
An onion indeed; perhaps a never-ending one. There is always more to life 😉
Powerful stuff Henri … I can completely relate to this since I survived a kind of bad case of depression mixed with anxiety (talking about a double whammy) this summer and while it was not a pretty experience, I managed to learn a ton.
Love the post!
It’s not easy, but it also doesn’t have to drive you insane. If anything, these dark periods help me stay present.
Very bold post, guess some of us may face this situation but not everyone shares this way.
Just would like to inform that you help lots of people through your work!
Keep going man!
This is bang on time for me, no coinsidence at all!
Firstly this is great for the fact that you have completely opened yourself up to us and to show that nobody is untouchable, no matter how much goodness they have been feeding themselves.
And secondly the content is great, it made me think, trying to avoid bad feelings is like trying to avoid half of life, there is good and there is bad, you have to embrace both, and the bad is normally a disguise for lessons of good anyway.
I also read an article on another site that said listen to you body, in a physical sense, so if your tired, dont go to the gym just because you’ll miss you ‘3 times a week’, if you have a headache, your body is trying to tell you something.
The first indicator you had was feeling sluggish and slow, our bodies can be a first port of call, we need to learn the signals well and catch it early, and then do exactly what you said, write it down and i guess, get to know the demons and what they are really trying to tell us.
I’m inspired to write now! Thanks Henri!
Good stuff, Lewis. Thanks for the insightful comment!
Jean Burman says
Your fear… so beautifully expressed Henri. Thank you. And yes you’re right. We all have fears that haunt us and have to be brave to overcome. Learning how to [I suspect] is a lifelong quest. But that’s what life’s about… the climbing up and the falling down. None of it easy. But sharing as you have certainly makes us feel less alone on our way to wherever [and whoever] we are destined be. So thank you. We empathise. We understand. We’re human. Thank you Universe 🙂
So right you are, Jean. I saw your website; love the color and warm feel of your paintings. Thanks for doing what you do!
Really great story! You are one of the best writer. Many people are face to depression, but not everyone can get rid of it. This story inspired me to do something better.
Thank you so much.
Thank you for this post. Like so many others who’ve commented, I have been there as well. It was an understanding of the full circle of life that kept me going, hoping that eventually the circle would be completed and I would be on the other side of all the darkness.
I appreciate your honesty and authenticity in writing your experiences down for all of us to read. I believe it is in the sharing that we all become stronger – with ourselves, with and for each other.
Peace to you.
Couldn’t agree more, Lois. It is in sharing our story that we grow stronger, and where we find our power.
Chris Fielding says
Henri – You write so well on this subject and there are so many who try to explain but can’t quite capture it. It was like you were writing my thoughts. I agree, it is not about putting a label to things. That forces us into boxes and it just isn’t that simple. I hope that you write more about this side of things because there are a lot of people oput there who can relate to your experience. I am certainly one of them. I also spill my thoughts onto paper and keep a jurnal. Not all the time but at times like you describe. The sentences nudge me towards a better place. Many thanks for this post.
Thanks Chris! Let’s see what comes out next. I often don’t know what I’ll write. I have plans, but they so often dissolve in the ocean of inspiration.
Hiya! You have a way in which you write that makes it sincere and so easy to read. It’s a talent. I recall reading somewhere you found Kamal Ravikat’s book and found some inspiration in it and thought you may be interested in checking out a talk he did. It touched me and inspired me to embrace myself, my vulnerabilities and my fears. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBrPQTY48_8
Thank you for sharing that talk. I watched it while drinking my morning tea. Got me inspired to start my day, so again, thanks for sharing, Theresa.
I believe that things turn up when I need them, I’ve been in this darker state for a couple of weeks and knew already that it was because I felt hemmed in and held back. So I found your book about finding my passion and been looking at it daily since. Its a good inspiration and you’d already helped me link a lot of dots I hadn’t thought of that helped towards feeling better. Depression however can play tricks with your mind, and just when I was feeling the pull again in the wrong direction, you sent me the link to this. Well timed thank you XX
Glad you enjoyed the book, and the article. Life isn’t always easy, but if you listen, there seems to be a way through it all. And I often find I’m better off because of the darker moments. That’s when I learn the most.
Sam Bahri says
I’m 30 yrs old and spent most of my life being worried, anxious and in fear. I’m a gay guy and have recently come out to my parents which i’ve been struggled for years. I’m a fan of yours and read most of your articles and posts. It really inspires me everytime and show me the right direction. Thank you for your wonderful articles.
Thanks Sam. And congrats on coming out. If you ever have any questions, or if I can ever help, let me know 🙂
Nayna Vasa says
Great experience & great explanation about depression to cure without medication.
Sending much love and appreciation to/for you.
I applaud your courage and honour your bravery, not least as a fellow traveller but because you have shone a gentle light for all those who might also experience their Soul’s growth in such a way.
I refer to your recent posts on depression, feeling worthless…… your journey(s) through the ‘Dark Night(s) of the Soul’ and how you moved through those experiences…..
And I applaud your ability to convey so succinctly – without spilling over into sentimentality or morbidity – what can be and often is an incredibly painful time, full of confusion and fear. The practical advice supplied is as ever, remarkably soothing and uplifting.
While I would not wish these experiences on anyone – as can be seen from your writing – they can and most often do, carve out compassion and many other fine qualities revealing the beauty of your heart and soul.
Blessings beautiful you, so glad you made it. Thank you for shining your light 🙂
Thanks Peta. Appreciate your comment!
I took my pen and paper and wrote wrote wrote. Nothing really made any sense. It was like talking to another human, only that human was me, my self. I was inaffect writing to my self. I found this very soothing since I had spent a while feeling pretty horrible telling myself I am not good enough, I have to work harder, no one cares about me, there is something wrong with me, In my writing I remembered self Love is the most important thing. And that my anxiety was a result of thinking pretty terrible thoughts about my self a lot of the time. Actually taking time out to write to my self I confronted anxiety head on. I ate mindfully, more plants, and walked in nature, I took the time to actually listen to my friends and families deepest fears, I took action to help where I could, I diverted my path, which was on the way to more money, more success, and spoke the truth about what I could and couldn’t manage at that time. I am now at a crossroads where I get to choose what I do next. I know from this place of self love and compassion I trust that the universe will pave the right path for me, free from material wealth and gain, a path of inner peace and tranquility. I can now be really honest with myself and others and be confident in my capabilities and know that following my heart will bring all the wealth I need
Powerful. Thanks for sharing!
Having reread what you said and what I said I can now see that I said confront anxiety, like a confrontation, when you say ‘embrace’ and ‘face’ the fear it sounds a much gentler way forward than when I say ‘confront’. Like a battle with fear. Like fighting against a force. I may try to think of it like you do next time. Thanks for your encouragement
when you describe it as “coming full circle”, it made me think of the movie Apollo 13, when the astronauts are helpless in their little craft and forced to wait not knowing what will happen or if they will survive..they have to orbit the moon..instead of land on it as originally planned. they are not in control anymore they lost that. then they lose contact with Houston and sight of earth..as they go around to the far side of the moon.
In the midst of the fear anxiety and unknown there is the deep silence and darkness..but that is the moment when they see this incredible beauty..in that profound darkness they witness the sight of the entire universe with its billions of stars…it’s a poignant experience, like your blog…in the dark scary far side before we come full circle..suddenly on the far side in the fear and unknown..we see ..all the posts of others like stars in the rest of the universe that we didn’t know were there…something beautiful and profound and quite beyond our normal understanding and sphere..we are powerless in it yet carried in orbit..we have to face it, surrender to it and yet.. do you see it ?? this incredible beauty..all these souls..like stars in the darkness….
Beautifully put, Lorraine 🙂