Treading Water

*Warning of mentions of depression and anxiety*

Oil Canvas, Woman Treading Water, 2004, Eric Zener

Where am I right now? (Mentally.)

I’m ok.

I still have my depression. I still have my anxiety. They’re my buddies that always keep me company.

But they don’t have to be loud.

(And you know what? They’re not my buddies – more on that in a different post though…)

The reason that I’m no longer curled up in a ball on my bed – bawling my eyes out for what seems to be no apparent reason – and on the phone to my mum who doesn’t have the slightest clue what to do with me?

Who knows! – Maybe it’s my antidepressants? Hormonal changes? My friends checking up on me when I’m vulnerable? My boyfriend being supportive? Random changes of heart?

I don’t know. I’m just thankful. Thankful I’m not going through that roller coaster of emotions and strong, over-welling waves of emotions which didn’t seem at all logical.

Thankful that life no longer feels like a heavy burden with no hope.

So am I happy?

Hard to tell when I honestly can’t remember what happy is…

I know I’m not fixed though. Not cured. Not by a very long way.

How do I know this?

I’ve been here before. I’ve felt like this, that maybe I can survive, maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

But I know better now, because I’ve slipped back into my depression before at this stage.

Because I’m not stood on solid stable ground. I’m treading water.

I have my head above the emotions, above the crippling fear of failure and loneliness, of anxiety and self destruction. But only because I’m kicking my feet. Straining my neck to stay above the waves.

And you know what, this can only last so long. No one can tread water forever. Eventually your legs begin to ache, the waves wash over you head a few times and maybe some of that salty water gets into your mouth and down your throat.

When I let that little bit in… Suddenly kicking my feet becomes an even wearisome task and I… I give up.

I slip back under the water. I stay in bed longer, I avoid an activity or gathering.

I give into the voices in my head and before I know it, I’m back in the thick of it again.

Depression.

Anxiety.

So what I am doing right now?

I’m waiting. Waiting for my legs to give out. Waiting for that wave that is too big.

Maybe that’s the wrong way to look at this. Maybe I should have more hope – and I do though, each time I have the biggest hope that this time I’ve reached the surface, something will come and rescue me, something will finally pull me out of the water and I shall no longer fear falling back under.

But that’s why I know better than to stop my medication. I know better than to give into that little voice that says miss this lecture/practical at uni, its doesn’t matter to miss one.

Because it does. These things snowball. I’m an all or nothing person. I do my best or I do my worst. I have a feeling everything will be ok, or I’m in the darkest place wondering what’s the point in life.

So I’m being gentle with myself, conserving my energy. I want to move forward, to kick up higher above the waves, to hope that this will be more obvious a signal to whatever is looking to rescue me from this sea.

But I also must conserve my energy. Kick too strong, reach too far, too fast, I play a risky game. Everything I did could be perfect, the effort I put in, my timing, my methods and maybe I’ll be rescued.

But maybe my rescue attempt isn’t here yet. And instead I’ll simply wear myself out faster. My legs, desperately keeping my head in the clear air, will give out sooner.

I’ll fall back into the depths again.

So I have to be careful. I don’t want to take the risk. I want to conserve myself. Push myself further when I feel I can, but also keep treading water.

Because one day I hold on hope that my lifeboat will come.

And my feet may finally find themselves back on dry land again.

Credit: hobo_018 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Thanks for reading!

If you liked, leave a comment, share your own experiences or take on similar feelings!

This is a safe, supportive place! x

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