Fear. Anxiety. Loneliness. Obsession. Depression.

Negative feelings are an unavoidable part of life. They give meaning to good times. But sometimes our minds latch on to the bad, smothering the good. Our thoughts can tear us apart from within.

Everyone fights through negative emotions and thoughts, but few talk openly about their struggles. Many of us waste weeks, months, and years of our lives suffering in darkness because we try to work through our problems alone.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

I speak from experience.

Everyone’s brains work a little differently. Mine likes to latch onto problems and resolve them. That’s good! But not all problems can be solved. Until a year ago, I didn’t know how to stop my mind from churning on unresolvable thoughts and fears.

When I was really young, my mind latched onto a few completely irrational fears. I didn’t know how to dismiss them. So my mind, the problem-solver that it is, started to obsess about them. It wanted to destroy the fears by eliminating the possibility that they would come true. But the fears I struggled with weren’t rational and couldn’t be reasoned away. So my brain churned, feeding the fears and allowing them to grow. Fear started to consume my life, and I couldn’t stop it.

One night, I was at my wits’ end. In desperation, I went to the one person I could talk to: my mother. I spewed out all of the thoughts that were running through my head. Fears that had built up for almost a decade. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. But she listened, and she cared. I didn’t have to bear the burden alone any more.

Confessing my fear felt tremendous, but my healing had just begun. Day after day, we worked through my problems. Lots of talking. Lots of reading. Lots of caring. It took the better part of two years to undo the damage caused by those irrational thoughts and fears. It was the most difficult and emotionally trying time of my life.

For years, I walked alone at night, pestered by demons. As I healed, the sun rose. I started to look back and realize that what I feared in the darkness was nothing to fear at all.

Through reading, talking, and time, I learned how to prevent my brain from trying to solve unsolvable problems. I lost a lot of time trying to face those demons alone. I could look back with regret, wishing that I had sought advice sooner, but there’s no use dwelling on the past. Life’s a journey. Maybe you can learn something from mine.

Everyone battles demons. I fought demons rooted in fear and obsession. Others contend with depression, addiction, or suicide. Everyone faces sadness, uncertainty, apathy, and doubt.

Talk to someone. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, no matter what you’re facing. To admit that you’re struggling is to admit that you’re human. Everyone needs a little help now and then. Even people you know and talk to every day.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others. Don’t be afraid to let others reach out to you. True friends won’t judge you. True friends care. We’re all trying to find our way through the darkness.

Life is too short to struggle silently.

Thanks to my friend Carl for encouraging me to write this post.