By Lexy Gardner

Trying to explain Depression

to someone that hasn’t got a clue

Inspired by an article written by Ruth Fox on

Trying to explain Depression to someone that hasn't got a clue. I'm trying to explain depression — I read a line recently that stopped me in my tracks and showed how I can try to explain, how I can try and get it through

*deep breath*

Ok, here it goes. Trying to get all of the words that have been replaying through my head all night out and in to some form of comprehensive text. The words that have repeated themselves in so many different ways I’ve lost track of how they were originally. The words that have meant that for the third night in a row I’m not going to sleep at all.

It all started with a single line in an article I quite frankly skimmed over initially, and then proceeded to read fully and re-read until I could almost recite it from memory.

“It’s as though you are drowning yet expected to swim to a shore when you have no idea of how far away it is.”

I’ve been trying to explain depression. Reading that line stopped me in my tracks, stopped my aimless scrolling trying to find answers, to find something to help, to find a cure. It stopped the constant barrage of negative thoughts in my head and for a brief moment came peace as everything clicked into place and was clear. That’s how I can try to explain, that’s how I can try and get it through, surely now they can understand.

Of course off went my brain phrasing and re-writing, comparing and associating, round and round until hopefully now. Now the words are out on paper, now they’re neatly in a line, now they’re no longer scrabbling around my head.

So, here goes

So here goes my way of trying to explain Depression to someone that hasn’t got a clue.

It’s a sunny day, you’re at the seaside quite content. All around you people laugh and smile, giving off joy and happiness in every way. You decide to go for a dip in the cool sea; you enjoy swimming so it will be fun. You paddle a way out from the shore, waving to the others, enjoying the water. You slowly become tired, you lose your enthusiasm, and try to swim back to shore, still smiling at the people around you lest they worry. However it dawns on you that the current is taking you further and further away from the shore until it can no longer be seen.

The sun is gone

The sun is gone, just dark grey clouds in its wake. Unsure of how much time has passed, you struggle to tread water, fatigue setting in. All you long to do is curl up in your safe warm bed and wish the world away. A icy cold wave hits you in the face, washing over you, taking what’s left of your warmth. You sputter against the water, your limbs getting heavy and your lungs burning. You don’t know how much longer you can hold on but you still try, not wanting to give up. Your eyes desperately search the horizon for a sign of rescue, or even any sign of home.

Then you feel it — you’re sinking as though some dark hand is clasped around your ankle in is pulling you under. You bob, struggling to keep your face above the water, trying to fight, to live, but have nothing left in you. You submerge, eyes stinging against the salt water, hands still clawing to try and get back to the surface, lungs bursting to hold on to that last breath. Suddenly you let go, everything goes dark and you mumble your final words into the dark depths knowing no one will hear them, how could they? ‘I think I need help.’ A surge of energy and panic fills your every fibre.

Swallowed by the sea

You lurch back to the surface, gulping in air, grateful for it. You search, still no rescue and no sign of land. You’re almost tempted to be swallowed by the sea again. You close your eyes, praying its all a dream, you remember the beach and the warm sun fondly. Finally you pick a direction; snapping your eyes open, you hesitate, questioning yourself. You slowly manage to heave your exhausted body through the waves and hope that it’s your way home.

Along the way you find boats that offer words of encouragement and flotation devices where possible. You encounter other people trying to get back to shore as well. You come across storms and gigantic waves threatening to pull you under again. You get tired again, your earlier burst of energy zapped from every muscle. You pause, trying to catch your breath, dreading how much further you have to go. Tempted to just slip back to the depths and be free.

You start swimming

You look over your shoulder at how far you’ve gone. Even though it feels like a insignificant distance, it’s still better than where you were. You face forward once again, eyes ever on the horizon, unsure of how far you still need to go. You start swimming.

I know not everyone experiences depression the same, and there are people out there that just can’t comprehend it. Next time I find myself trying to explain depression, what it is and what it feels like, I hope I can show them this and maybe they’ll start to understand.

You survive

For those of you who are going through this, here’s some things I struggle to remember:

– You are not alone
– It’s ok to not be ok
Talking can help, but so can just being in a room with someone
– Don’t be so hard on yourself
Self care is always important
– There is always someone out there to listen
– You are always worth your next breath

And finally a new one for me – So far you’ve survived 100% of your worst days. You’re doing great!


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