Comes the Darkness, Comes the Light: A Memoir of Cutting, Healing, and Hope is a powerful new book by Vanessa Vega about her journey into therapy for self-injury and an eating disorder. The book is not for the faint of heart: In sometimes poignant and graphic detail, she describes her self-destructive behaviors and her early experiences in psychotherapy. Ultimately, it is a memoir of courage, strength, and hope.
It is a compulsion like no other, the inescapable consequence and intermingling of tension, shame, guilt, and frustration. It is a descent into a realm of darkness few can understand… yet many secretly experience. It is the disorder known as cutting…
Vanessa Vega would stop at nothing to cause – and therefore control – her own pain. When she wasn’t cutting herself, she might be slamming a hand or arm or leg against a wall. Or she might donate blood or get her iron checked – just to feel the prick of the needle. Her actions would sometimes leave her in a trance-like state, large portions of her day left only as foggy images if they weren’t blocked out completely. The need to cut called to her, even as she fought back, sometimes succeeding, often giving in to a need she herself couldn’t hope to understand…
Slowly, with the help of family, friends, therapists, and an abiding faith, Vanessa gradually and painfuly began to shake off the bonds of despair and helplessness, ultimately gaining strength, until at last she looked the demon in the eye – and stared him down.
This is one woman’s story of a life lost and then regained. Offering hope and agonizingly hard-won insight to others battling this painful disorder, it is a chilling look at the destructive power of the human mind, and an unprecedented account of the tragic results of self-mutilation. But in the end, it is a testament to the incredible power of the desire to live, and to the endless strength available to all of us – even in our darkest hour.
In addition, Vanessa’s account addresses the fear, shame, and misunderstanding that confronts many people beginning psychotherapy, and the relief and comfort that comes from learning that one is not alone in the struggle, that others have journeyed down similar roads and emerged victorious.
This is a book that should be required reading for therapists or loved ones attempting to understand why individuals self-injure and how to assist them in recovery.
self-injury, self-mutilation, eating disorders, therapy, psychotherapy