The depths of depression are akin to drowning in a deep, dark and powerful river. You’re swept away with it, no idea which way is up, blackness everywhere. You attempt to struggle but it’s futile, you don’t know what you’re struggling for. There is nothing else. It’s easier to just be swept away, to surrender to the darkness forever.

But eventually through luck or fate or divine intervention, call it what you will, your head breaks the surface, just for a second. And you see that the blackness isn’t all, that maybe there’s an infinitesimal chance of something more. If you have the strength, the struggle really begins but now it has a sense of direction, some of the futility is gone. But the river is strong, and it’s hold on you is absolute and you’ve been drowning for so long that the energy to fight it is failing.

But let’s imagine you escape that river. You find a reserve of power that you didn’t know you had and you pull yourself from those depths, dripping, exhausted but triumphant. It would be great to pretend that was it. That you’ve won once and for all. The river though is treacherous, it licks around your ankles, calling you back to its embrace.

And besides, when you look around you realise that where you’ve emerged is not really much better than where you’ve been. You’re at the bottom of a deep valley, with steep and deadly sides that seem to reach up forever. The one difference is that if you squint hard at just the right moment, you can see a glimmer of light at the summit of one of those cliffs and it’s incredible, it spells hope. But then it fades again and you wonder if it was just a dream.

So you start to climb those valley sides and you realise that no matter how hard they looked from the base, the reality is a hundred times worse. The rock underfoot is slippery, the hand holds give way at the slightest touch and all the time you can hear the river calling your name, tempting you back to it.

Sometimes on the way up you slip and you find yourself falling again but not always all the way. You find your way barred, things fall on you from the heights and you begin to doubt your reasoning. But occasionally, you catch a glimpse of that light and so slowly you begin again. There are ledges of vague stability where the temptation is to curl up and stay forever but those ledges eventually start to crumble and the climb must go on. Worst of all you find yourself at places where the only way to continue to rise is to fall back to a lower ledge and to start again up a new route. Sometimes the light seems deceptively close and you think you’ve made it but it turns out to be a false horizon, beyond is more cliff stretching upwards perhaps forever.

I’m somewhere on those cliffs. Sometimes the light is near, often it’s so far away as to seem unreachable but I do hope to get there. One day.


2 Responses to Recovery

  1. aims says:

    You will! You’ve come a very long way from the depths of the river. Your clothes may still be wet and clinging but once you get near the top they are going to start drying out and you’ll feel much better!

    I sometimes think that once we reach the top that we do sit there and dangle our feet over the edge. Maybe the view is great from up there and we don’t want to leave it. Or can’t. Either way – it’s only our feet in the darkness then.

    Lovely and perfect analogy.

  2. Casey says:

    Amazing post. That’s the closest I’ve ever read to sum up how it feels. However, the fight will get easier. Take rest on those ledges before climbing on- your progression will be more definite and stable that way rather than trying to sprint to the top and collapsing, thus rolling back into the river anyway. No one wants to end up in the sea.

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