I’ll be the first person to say that I’m not really a hippie. I like my processed foods at times, I wear a bra 95% of the time and I crave a little structure. But I can guarantee you the Madie from six years ago would look at me and thinking, “What a freaking hippie.” (That Madie had a better mouth on her).

See during the Dark Years, as I’ve decided to call them, it often felt like NOTHING was happening. It felt like the world around me was going on while I was rotting away. Stagnating. Breaking apart. But I’ve learned that even those gross processes aren’t nothing. They’re movement forward. They’re ugly and unpleasant, but they’re life in its truest form.

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I started thinking about Nature as an entity when I first began keeping a garden. It was supposed to be therapeutic and who doesn’t like succulents. But man, I have killed a LOT of plants. Like a lot. I was not a very good plant mom for the first couple of years – probably because I wasn’t a very good human in general. I let things die rather than take the five foot walk to my balcony. I watched as the fell apart and withered and I would feel worse and worse.

But I think the thing that kept me going is that there were so many plants that just adapted and kept going. They’d go wild under the sun and my neglectful care. Nature didn’t need me to produce beauty. These were just little unsuspecting plants that ended up in the hands of basically a murderer, but somehow managed to thrive. Nature didn’t waste the change. It created something new.

And in me, I am beginning to feel like my darkness was less of a waste than it felt at the time. Nature, in her infinite wisdom was creating something new. Those hours spent on the couch made me fall in love with television and film again. The closed environment let me feel comfortable enough to let that closed in nerd out into the light of day. I watched SO MUCH STAR TREK, and Supernatural, and the Magicians, and Battlestar Galactica and pretty much every B-list sci-fi show I could find online. In the darkness, my imagination was being rewired to see bigger things, to crave more. I watched standup to make myself laugh and developed a new sense of humor. I was forced to stop going to social functions and learned that there was so much I didn’t miss at all. I learned what makes me really come alive and what makes me literally wish for death.

So yes, those changes were horrendous. Depression sucks. There’s nothing romantic or wistful or nostalgic about it. I’ll never stop mourning those years that were lost to so much pain. Sometimes I still grieve so hard I feel as if I will drown from the pain. But underneath all that horrific change, Nature was molding me into a new creature. A creature who likes nerdy things like fan fiction (team Destiel forever) and vulgar things like Amy Wong’s latest Netflix special. None of it will go to waste. And in that, I find a lot of hope.

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