Depression Lurking Beneath The Waves

If I woke up tomorrow and felt like I was suffocating, what is anyone going to do about it? I’m drowning in an ocean of existential dread and choking on kelp and foam. The waves are roaring so loud, washing out the voices. I’m lost at sea. Alone. Where are the calm and gentle seas I had grown so accustomed to? Tears streaming down my face, I drifted gasping for answers.

Why do I need to experience this?

I’m writing this to myself, to find the answers I never had.

I’m sure every single person in the modern era has experienced depression once. However, I feel like depression is misinterpreted as sadness. I feel like the best way to explain depression is to say it’s a symptom comprised of symptoms. It is like an ocean within an ocean. Depression can be caused by many things; loss of a loved one, a bad break up, scoring low on a test, like a sunk ship drifting beneath the waves. It’s the end of something. You feel like nothing you do will change that. The depths are immeasurable and all you can feel is the slow descent and building pressure of everything you held dear collapse for one reason or another.

Sadness is only one aspect of depression, but to an outsider who’s never experienced it, they can only assume that depression and sadness are interchangeable. It’s like explaining the color turquoise to a blind person. The experience is intangible to anyone that hasn’t experienced it and misconceptions confuse depression between sadness, tiredness, and laziness. Here’s how I see it: when you hear someone with a bad cough, you assume they have a cold, but when you see someone who’s constantly tired, irritated, and sad, what do you assume? It’s interesting how we chalk up those things to a bad day instead of wondering if it’s depression. However, comparing depression to a cold doesn’t do it enough justice. It is a lot more than that. 

It’s like this feeling like everything is going to end. Our impending doom is inevitable and everything that I’ve ever done, ever will do is worthless. 

Depression is like pollution in the waters, it bogs people down, traps people in nets and plastic and slowly drowns them. I for one am surrounded by people who have so many emotions and thoughts that they end up bottling them up. The ocean is just littered in toxic thoughts, ideas, emotions, and actions. All these things clog up the brain’s function leaving it exposed and helpless. And so what our brain does is it sends out messages in a bottle, “like one little person sending a signal as far as he could into the ether.” Little messages saying the ship is sinking.

These messages come in many forms ranging from sleep deprivation, a sense of constant confusion, loss of interest in things we love, sadness, irritability, and suicidal thoughts. We honestly really suck at identifying these things. We can attribute a lot of these similar signals to growth, teenage hormones, “having a bad day,” or just being tired. When I was at my worst, I constantly had to ask myself; 

“Why am I like this? Why don’t I feel normal? Why can’t I try harder? Why do I hate myself? Why do I feel like I’m drowning? Why..  why… WHY?”

The worst part is, I could never answer myself. I was spiraling in the currents. Lost at sea adrift in my own personal bottles and trash. Suffocating under the weight of my own words. For truly, why did a 10 year old boy have to ask himself this?

The worst part is, there’s no lifeguards on duty. People don’t actively go around finding people lost in a metaphorical sea. I’ve spent my entire life trying to fight the currents and find land. And every time I feel safe, the ground sinks and turns to mud until eventually it’s just more ocean from horizon to horizon. 

Am I doing something wrong?”

I always used to look around at my peers with envy and discontent. I imagined they had something I didn’t; a better, more content life with purpose and focus and beauty. It took me 15 years to realize that there isn’t some cure to depression. I had wasted 15 years despising myself and those around me. I was ignorant. I just wish someone could have told me sooner. 

“It isn’t about them, it’s about you. It always has been, and it always will be, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re not a narcissist for wanting to make your life better.

Be the person you need right now. Be the shoulder you need to lean on. Be the helping hand you need when you fall down. Be the person brave enough to stand up for you. Because no one else is coming. Get up, dust yourself off, paradise awaits.”

I like to think that If life was like a painting, we’re all painting a masterpiece. It’s just when you look around, you’ll never see the steps it took to create- the blood, sweat, and tears to make it. The years poured into something more valuable than anything else in this world: yourself. 

Although, I think what’s vastly under-appreciated is what we can learn from depression. It’s an undervalued human expression. We try so hard to suppress all of our thoughts saying it’s so wrong to think this way. What if it’s not? I believe depression has made me a more empathetic person and I’m able to look outwards beyond just myself. I’m able to connect with people better, be more creative, and try to be more positive because I know what it’s like to feel like you’re drowning. I will try my best to be the person I needed 5 years ago. And then maybe those 15 years weren’t a waste… I was just painting my own great wave.

One thought on “Depression Lurking Beneath The Waves

  1. This is very well written! I agree, depression can feel like you’re lost at sea with no escape. I’ve suffered with depression and I think it’s really important to shed light on this topic. It’s saddening how depression is at times viewed as laziness and I’m glad you added a personal connection to show what depression really is like. I definitely grew from this experience, how about you? How are you dealing with depression now?


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