Depression is a difficult place to be. Challenging on many levels, it can be as frightening for the sufferer as for those who watch on. Those in the midst of its gloom can feel as if they are living a different and parallel life to those they share their homes and world with. This disconnection, and inaccessibility of outsiders to share this highly personalised state of being, can be scary, isolating and lonely.
It takes tremendous strength and resilience to successfully conquer reactive depression, to acknowledge and accept the triggers and personal shortcomings that allowed it to take hold, and to eclipse the darkness of mental illness in favour of the light of happiness. It takes fortitude to share these experiences with a wider audience.
Journey into the Dark and the Light depicts one woman’s progression from the shadows of her darkest places, overwhelmed and out of her depth, through her awareness that she could instigate change towards a productive life incorporating personal empowerment and professional success.
The selected poems and artworks illustrate with candour the insights she gained through her journey to well-being, exposing valued understanding of the harrowing process through which she developed inner strength and resilience, thereby consolidating the foundations for a balanced life encompassing self assurance and contentment.
Journey into the Shadow and the Sunshine continues the theme of Journey into the Dark and the Light, the first book by Annabel Harz. Disarmingly honest words and images reveal more of her personal experiences: the deep shadows of loneliness and depression; the recognition of the value of survival at her lowest point of feeling unworthy; the importance of mental and physical space in creating a safe place for personal exploration and growth; and ultimately the sunshine of wellbeing when—through sheer grit and endurance—her personal demons had been conquered and set free.
Sustained effort is required to rise out of depression once it is established as a daily state of being. The poetry and artwork in this collection exemplify the resilience required to rise above the despair of mental ill-health, and with candour and sincerity depict the internal strength which facilitates reaching a place of well-being.
When words so incisively and uniquely capture the experiences of pain, misery, shame and heartache, it gives the mind and soul a new way of understanding these events. And perhaps, these words then help to heal. Annabel’s words reflect the experiences of so many who span the wide spectrums of gender, age and neurodiversity. As painful as these words might be for some of us to read, these words also give hope—a pathway out of a dark place.