I know anyone who’s anyone and a huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, loved the movie Titanic (1997). Well, anxiety and depression make one feel like one is on the Titanic, just waiting for it to collide with an iceberg and sink.
It can also be like sailing on a ship at full speed ahead, with naught a care in the world, because one feels safe. There’s no thought that there might be danger before one reaches one’s destination. But pretty soon the ship springs a leak, which is followed by a bunch of other leaks. And you try feverishly to send out numerous SOSs, but most times it’s in vain. And then gradually the ship sinks till it meets the ocean floor. Just as most of us tend to give up the fight and the struggles. We decide for ourselves that we are going to die, so we might as well just face it and get it over.
There are those of us that think and feel like we are a great surfer. That we are waiting for that great wave to build up and then surf right on in. Then it just breaks our surf and we drown. Or we fight the current and waves or whatever obstacles there are, to meet the shores of our lives, to safety.
Ocean of depression
This is how my depression feels to me. Feeling great one moment and then totally drowning in an ocean of depression the next. Trying to fight against the current and waves and even navigate the boat is seen as an impossible task. It’s like I’m a surfer who’s been hit by a huge wave and seen my surf board broken into two. I’m looking around but no one is there to rescue me from the massive waves. The water rushes through my fingers as I try to fight to come up for air, and go down back again. The rising waters threaten to swallow me whole. It’s like drowning.
Life with a mental illness is something like that. It’s like trying to hold on and fight for one’s life when the odds are greatly and enormously stacked against you. It is extremely painful and hard at times which makes me think it’s the absolute worst thing in life.
How do I save myself from drowning in an ocean of depression? From going down with the sinking ship or being swallowed up whole by a wave? Through writing, meditation and talk therapy with my psychologist (who will soon be my former psychologist). And with you, my dear readers and followers, and those who send me their emails.
Mental illness is a taboo subject here in Trinidad and Tobago, the entire Caribbean, as a whole. That includes my family and friends. They are not aware that I am suffering and struggling with any mental illness. But it’s just the negative way which they talk about mental health conditions/illnesses. They see them romanticized on television and in the movies (there’s nothing romantic about mental illness). And/or hear of other persons locally, regionally and internationally suffering from it. And they say that all mad people should be institutionalized. They don’t believe that there are more mentally ill persons on the outside (in their community, country and the world, at large), than there are in mental health institutions.
Their negative thinking and actions towards mental illness makes me fearful of telling them that I have been diagnosed. And that I am enduring days, weeks, months and years of these agonizing and aggravating pains. That at times I’ve even contemplated suicide. That I think of ways of ending my life countless times of the day, with no one there to save me. Those suicidal thoughts grasp hold of me more times without even realizing it and they linger and make me feel the need to act on it.
Because of the negative ways and utter ignorance and stigma towards mental illness which they portrait, I am not finding any supportive system, or care with members of my family, or friends. And nor from those in my community. That’s why I basically turn to my psychologist, the internet (Facebook support groups – for persons with depression, bipolar, anxiety and other mental illness) and even you my dear, loving and supportive followers and readers.
Getting off the sinking ship
At times my depression can become overwhelming and make me weary, and the struggle extremely difficult. And also with my countless misfortunes, it seems impossible to survive. Thanks to you all, though, making me feel that there is light at the end of the darkest tunnel and I have so much more to live for. And that I am still a work in progress, for the battle is far from over. And I have to get off the sinking ship, and fight against the currents, waves and whatever obstacles are there which tries to drown me in that ocean of depression. My story is not yet over, it has only just begun!
I want to thank you all and say too, that your stories also need to be told and they have also just begun. I will keep moving forward and hopefully one day, everything will be wonderful.
Reproduced with permission, originally posted on avionneslegacy