I’m somewhere in the ocean, but still in sight of the beach. The waves have taken me under; I’m using all my strength to fight the current that threatens to end me. Moments of oxygen are few and far between, and then they stop all together. I look up; I don’t know if I’ll be able to resurface again. But then something happens; some force pushes me up about of the water and the vicious waves that were once swallowing me are stilled. I can breathe again. I’m treading water. I’m exhausting but I’m breathing.
I can see the beach. I see all my friends, my family, people who love me, care about me, think I’m a cool person. They see me now, and they’re waving. I wave back. I’m so far away. All I have to do is swim to them, swim back to the beach, swim away from the waves of death I didn’t think would ever end.
Back on the beach, I’m so, so tired. No one else is as tired as I am. No one knows the fight I just had out there in the water. No one realizes I was drowning out there, but something saved me. All I can do is cry; everyone around me is happy and having fun, but all I can do is cry. Because I’m alive. Not everyone survives what I just experienced, and I did. I’m alive.
You think I’m sad, but I’m actually just so happy to be alive.
When things were super dark, there was a time I didn’t feel loved by my friends. I felt so far away and cut off, and I started to believe that I was in FACT cut off and far away and therefore didn’t mean anything to any of them anymore. I could slip away, get on plane to America, and just leave Taiwan; and it wouldn’t even matter. No one would blink twice after I disappeared. I’m very thankful to have worked past these lies in my healing process, and my distorted perspective of my relationships with people have been restored.
Now that I’m in a place where I no longer hold things against the people around me or initially assume judgement or attack on their part and feeling ashamed to be around them, my eyes have been open to what I’m really up against. I can see much more clearly what is happening to me when I fall into a bout of depression. I’m drowning.
As soon as I came across that image during one of my google searches, it was like my whole being responded. That image “got me.” It articulated exactly what happens inside of me. I’m drowning.
These moments of drowning always have triggers, sometimes external, sometimes internal. External triggers might be a person or something that is said in conversation. Internal ones might be a negative memory or a situation that I’m hung up on. A lot starts happening once one of these triggers pull me under. And even when I manage to cognitively conquer the trigger, it’s not enough to pull me up to the surface. I’m already caught in the current of depression.
The “force” that finally does push or pull me to the surface might be a person. A friend that notices my upset state (my countenance and posture both completely change when this happens) comes over and hugs me. Someone just sits next to me and pats me on the back. I get an encouraging phone call or text message or email. Sometimes, I need an entire mental rest day free from stress and full of prayer to completely come out of it. I’ve learned to give myself those times of recovery.
As I’m crying there on the beach and friends are coming around to comfort me, all I want to say to them is this: You have no idea how tired how I am. You have no idea how hard it just was for me out there. Do you realize what I just went through? I was drowning! I almost died! I almost died. And I wonder if I should say this out loud. If I should tell everyone what happened. Or maybe it’s just enough that I’m with everyone again, together, on the beach.