In 2007, I wrote, regarding this week's Torah portion:
Having never read through the Bible/Torah before, even in my youth (I was raised w/o religion, essentially), I was unfamiliar with some of the plagues. Perhaps the one I was most unfamiliar with is the Ninth Plague -- darkness. The sages surmise that it wasn't physical darkness, such as that brought by a sandstorm or eclipse, but rather that it was "a spiritual or psychological darkness, a deep depression." The Torah reads, "People could not see one another, and for three days no one could get up from where he was" (Ex. 10:23). The commentary comments that people suffering from depression often lack the energy to move about or to concern themselves with others, focusing instead on themselves. Having nearly drowned in the sea of darkness that is depression myself, I read this and am completely overwhelmed. My mother and the man I love both suffer that which was plagued on the Egyptians. A darkness that comes and goes, though.
The commentary reads: "The person who cannot see his neighbor is incapable of spiritual growth, incapable of rising from where he is currently." Amid the Ninth Plague, "People could not see one another." The Catch 22 of depression is that, oftentimes, one feels so absolutely alone that he or she is driven into the depths of darkness where it is most lonely. Yet, if the person is incapable of seeing his or her neighbor to begin with, and within darkness is also unable to see his or her neighbor, what is to release them so that they can attain spiritual growth?
One of the hardest lessons that I'm learning after my divorce, my move, and my new relationship is knowing that I'm not alone. So many people have supported me through everything, and there have been so many expressions of love, support, and outreach, but when you're stuck in your aloneness and loneliness, those are hard spaces of darkness out of which to break.
Taylor reminds me, almost daily, that I am not alone -- "After all," he says, "Isn't this why we have each other?"
My dialogue with HaShem is continuous, and many of my prayers are for strength, peace, and guidance. I'm slowly rising from the darkness that I have known for so long, and it starts with realizing that I am not alone, despite how much I feel that. It's like an arrested development. At some point, I was faced with being alone, worthless, the wish that I had never been born vocalized outside myself. I'm attempting to remove myself from that arrested status emotionally and mentally.
I would guess that this plague, the plague of darkness, was the most painful and heartbreaking of them all. I wish such a plague upon no one and only hope that we all can learn from darkness and remember that the one thing that HaShem truly asks of us is to bring light into this world. And that light arises from our neshamot. Be true to yourself, let your neshama shine through, light the fire and let it grip the world around you into brightness.