Geeks Vs Loneliness: a light in dark places

World Mental Health Week shone a spotlight on mental illness. Let’s continue the conversation, and look for a light in dark places

Do you ever wake up empty? Open your eyes to a new day – and nothing. You are barely cogniscent of the world about you. It may be bursting into spring, with the cherry blossom falling as delicate confetti laying a path to summer.

The dawn chorus sounds but you are separate from it. Remote. You are the tormented of Barad-dûr, or facing your own toil up Mount Doom towards – what? What happens when you get there? When the quests are complete, when you’ve made the sacrifice. Where do you go from there?

Doom indeed. Let’s not forget that Frodo is made lesser by his toils to destroy the One Ring. Injuries he sustained en-route can’t be magicked away by the grace of Gandalf. They remain imprinted on his skin.

You can walk a bleak path through Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings, if you chose. Face your own Mount Doom. But you can also see another way through it, to that of the light at the end of the tunnel. A fellowship coming together to bring a new dawn after a long night.

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Mental Health Awareness Week is a great initiative. It encourages us to reach out and ask people if they are OK. To start a conversation. But it is just one week in the 52 that make up a year. What happens the other 51 weeks of the year is up to us. We are all facing our own personal trek across Mordor.

OK, we’re not all trying to destroy an ancient artifact that will enslave nations and destroys minds and free will. But anxiety and depression can leave you facing a void where you feel like your control has been taken away. A place of darkness where light has gone and free will is subjugated to the control of the One Ring. Dark and repetitive thought patterns can leave you unable to see a hand in front of your face, and when light does flare it is often with the red tint of danger signifying the destructive elements encapsulated by a Balrog. Empty caverns dressed with the bones of lost souls.

This isn’t the article I intended to write this week. I was intending a pretty piece about musicals. But I’m not OK. Last week, my own anxiety void snaked inky fingers round my ankles and pulled me off balance. I had the luxury of time and few obligations on my side. Time where I was able to see through the panic to its source, time to take myself for a long walk and a talk to help me calm down.

I also have someone to confide in. To hold my hand when I stumble. To give me a hug and watch endless hours of Grimm with me when I need easy brain fodder. My own fellowship. Not everyone has that.

I want to continue the national conversation started last week, where the work of the wonderful CALM was highlighted here at Den Of Geek.

Sometimes we are not OK. And while it’s fine to not be OK, it can also be hard to see a way forward. So if you are in a bit of a blind spot, perhaps consider talking to one of the support organisations listed at the foot of this article.

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As Galadriel says to Frodo as she gifts him the light of the star Eärendil: “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”

I hope you find your own Eärendil with whose light to follow.

Take care, and thanks as always for reading.

Support organisations that may shine a light if you are struggling:

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): 

Cruse Bereavement Care: 

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Rethink Mental Illness: