Finding Light in the Darkness of Depression


Our experience of life has much to do with the way we see or perceive it. One of the reasons a poem can be life altering is that it may change our experience by changing our view or perception of it.

April is National Poetry Month, the perfect time to explore the positive and profound effect well-chosen words have on our heart and mind.

Even when the symptoms of depression, or any mood disorder, are intense, it is possible to experience a shift in our point of view. Although the shift does not solve the problems in our life, it may allow us to manage them with less distress and a lighter heart. Being able to provide this change in perception is the magic of poetry.

A Poem That Lights the Darkness

Depression is often thought of as a type of darkness, frightening and unpleasant. The poem shared here, Sweet Darkness by David Whyte, offers a different perception. It transforms darkness into a space where we can rest, find love, and see further than is possible with our eyes open to daylight.


When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone,
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your home

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

~ David Whyte, from his book River Flow

Whyte’s poem also invites us to question what really belongs to us. We all tend to hang on to things that drain our life force instead of fan its flame. Part of managing depression is letting go of what holds us down and reaching for those activities, people, and situations that bring us alive. Poems can help us remember this until we can achieve it.


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