When Depression Comes in Waves

By Elizabeth Wilder

Last June I went to the ocean, a place usually filled with peace for me. But last June was different. I felt nothing. They say that depression can make you lose interest in things you once loved. And as I walked alongside the shore with my feet in the water, I knew. I knew that depression had engulfed me like an unforgiving wave. I couldn’t deny it. I couldn’t ignore it. Depression was knocking me down relentlessly, trying to drown me over and over again.

Day after day I attempted to extract myself from this grip depression had on me, but just like how the ocean comes back to the shore, I could not let go of this continuous and exhausting cycle. Depression convinced me I didn’t deserve to be happy, that I didn’t deserve to feel like I had purpose. And I believed it. I let it take over me.

As distressing as it sounds, depression becomes comfortable after a while. It becomes safe. You adapt to the feelings of emptiness and nothingness; they become your new friends. In the darkest throes of my depression, I didn’t believe there was an end in sight. I believed I would feel like this forever. I got so used to it that I even started to question myself.

Is it really THAT bad?

Am I actually depressed?

Am I actually drowning?

Eventually, those questions started to eat away at me. I gave up. I cried. I screamed. I caved into myself. I wanted to be swept away by the waves. I felt shame and I felt guilt and I wanted those feelings to end once and for all. There was a minute I began losing sight of shore, a minute I thought I couldn’t bear it anymore.

But another minute later, I resurfaced, gasping for air.

All it takes is another minute.

When I realized I couldn’t tread water on my own anymore, I reached out. And when I did, my best friend extended a hand and helped save my life. One simple text and he was by my side, letting me cry into his shoulder and asking the tough questions and listening to the difficult answers I had never spoken to anyone before.

I allowed myself to express feelings of darkness without guilt or shame. I began to realize that I deserved love and to love, to live a life of purpose. I could tell he was scared when he left me that night, scared that the ocean was going to claim me as its own. But in that moment I knew I couldn’t let it, whether I wanted it to or not. I had countless days ahead of me, days of pain but also of joy.

Last August I returned to the ocean with him. A summer had passed. It was a summer full of being open and honest about my depression with my friends and family. A summer filled with ups and downs, happy and sad moments alike. A summer of transformation. I ran to the shore with reckless abandon, letting the waves splash against my legs. I felt excited; I felt alive. I felt reconnected to the ocean, the warm salty air feeling like a friend once again.

I am not in denial: I know there are still waves to come. Good and bad. Waves I’ll want to jump over, to conquer. And others I’ll want to float under, to disappear. A wave when I drink a little more than I know I should. A wave when I step into therapy for the first time. A wave when the seas get rough and dark again.  A wave when I realize the overwhelming support I have now. A wave when I tell myself over and over again all it takes is another minute. Another minute to fall out of love and back in love with the sand and sea breeze.

If you start to feel like you’re trapped in depression’s current, keep an eye on the shore. Remember that there is always a way back. And when a wave knocks you down, hold on. All it takes is another minute.

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Comments (39)

  1. Sarah

    This is powerfully expressed, thank you. I’m so glad you held out for another minute and I pray that everyone reading this will join you and do the same. A reminder that there is still some time. There is help and there is hope 🙂

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  2. Amanda

    This touched my soul.

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  3. Amy

    Beautiful text, beautiful metaphore. That´s just what it feels like when you´re drowning. Thank you!

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  4. Jac'y Kennedy-Green

    This is beautifully expressed. I especially identify with the doubt that begins to creep in “I’m well medicated, I have good doctors, I’ve done therapy, I have love, and life, and laughter surrounding me….why am I still like this? Maybe I really am that bad”.

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  5. Tyler

    I find myself having trouble working up the courage to talk to my parents about my depression. My wife has been nothing but encouraging and supportive ever since we first started suspecting I had about it a month ago (I haven’t had the chance to make it to any sort of professional to properly diognose it), but I realize that I have been fighting it my whole life. I don’t want to worry them, but I realize that I’m in a positive phase right now, where I don’t feel like the depression is bad enough to talk about it too much with that many people. What should I do to put get out of this mindset of trying to hide it?

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Hi Tyler,

      We’d love to answer your question and give you some encouragement. Would you mind emailing us at

      Reply  |  
  6. Pingback: When Depression Comes in Waves – The Inner Battle

  7. Greg

    Thank you for this. The analogy is spot on. I am at that place where dark thoughts hold no consequence. And thank God for my wife. This is toughest thing I’ve ever been through. This blog jas helped me see I’m not completely alone and others have found hope and strength they’ve needed and I will too.

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  8. Shana

    Something completely apposite. Waves are a perfect analogy, at least in my case, and although I’ve finally taken the first steps towards getting out, its definitely a real struggle to keep afloat. A constant battle, all day, every day. The worst part is when you get moments of happiness and you realise you’re happy and that brings back the realisation that the majority of the time you’re not. And it just pulls you back down again. I truly hope for anyone else going though something similar, that you can find the strength that is undoubtedly there inside of you, to pull away and break free and hope that someday I can too.

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  9. Jenny Aldcroft

    Beautifully written. Helps me understand what the man I love must go through. I can definitely see that he doesn’t think he deserves to be happy and nothing I can say will fix it.

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  10. Bernette


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  11. Mallory

    One of the hardest things I have had to accept is that it is always going to come back. It will never leave me forever. The flip side of that realization is that, like the waves, there are also ebbs along with that flow.

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    1. Celeste

      To think “it will always come back” is not good. It’s better to have an optimistic look and think “it will get better, as long as I keep fighting it ” 🙂

      Reply  |  
  12. Ronda

    Very profound at the exact moment I needed it. Thank you for giving me hope again

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  13. Tammy Nawrocki

    Beautifully stated!!!! I have been dealing with MDD, PTSD and Anxiety for so many years now. I have been on so many different medications it’s ridiculous.. The really hard thing for me is having no strong support system. The past three years have been really hard and during this time, my husband has had an affair, been verbally and emotionally abusive. Trying to continuously regroup however, the struggle is real!!!! Thank you for this beautifully written article as I feel you summed it up fairly well and as an ocean lover myself, I was also able to visualize this as I was reading it!!!!!

    Reply  |  
    1. Rosemary Williamson

      Hi!! You don’t know me but i can see you are going through some tough things and i might not be able to help you at all but i have been abused in different ways over quite a few years and i would love to just be your listening ear if you’d like to talk. I am worried because you say you are lacking a solid support system… you don’t have to respond to this but i read your comment and couldn’t just ignore it. You deserve to be loved and respected and cared for. I have dealt with anxiety, depression and self harm for a long time and been on and off medications… i have OCD too now. i know we’re not the same and like i said, you don’t know me. I’m not claiming to know you either… but i’d love to talk with you more. If you want 🙂 i don’t know if i am allowed to put my email on here but is one way to get hold of me. You might not have twitter :/ so reply if you would like to talk another way!
      Whatever you do, always know that there’s someone here who cares about you!! Have an awesome day xx

      Reply  |  
  14. Celeste

    Thank you for sharing this,,, it is very inspiring and helpful.,,

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  15. Theresa

    I really needed to read this today. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  16. Josefine

    I can see where you are coming from, but I feel like the shore is to far away. You have an amazing best friend, and I know that mine would do the exact same thing for me, but I feel like speaking about it makes you feel weak. Even with your best friends.

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  17. Julia

    Thank you.

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  18. Here for the help

    WOW and I mean WOW. Just what I needed to read today. For the past five years I haven’t felt happy. With all the woes of the economy, my relationship with someone that could care less about responsibilities, and struggling to make ends meet even though I’m coming up on 30 year career job. I feel stuck at work as I see others move forward. I feel when I bought my home (all by myself 10 years ago) I was doing the economy a favor and have seen nothing but my taxes go up and freeze put on my economy raises. The only thing that makes me happy is fantasizing about oil painting and creating my own line of jewelry, of course I keep saying When I retire. Seems even then to make the money I need to survive I’ll have to work another 8 years and by then my eyes may not be good nor my hands. I feel stuck all the time. Your story HIT ME HARD because like you the ocean is my savior. I can go there and feel replenished. After a dive in the ocean I feel reborn. some say it’s the salt in the water my body is absorbing but I really TRULY feel reborn, yet in the past few years these feelings have been less and less, BUT now reading your blog I see I will continue to swim back to shore over and over again and so whatever it takes to GO forward. So many days my body just moves without any true happy feelings behind each step but I know as the saying goes “you do what you have to do”. I prayer for you and Myself from this say forward. Thanks you for your blog it hit home.

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  19. kim bazo

    Really good insight

    Reply  |  
  20. Ramesh Gupta

    Perhaps Meditation is the answer for depression!

    Reply  |  
  21. Pat

    I have described my ‘state’ as big black waves for some time. This is exactly how I feel. Up one moment then drowning under those black waves.

    Reply  |  
    1. Becky Ebert

      Hi Pat,

      We’re so sorry to hear that you are feeling this way. It’s difficult to navigate your struggles alone, but especially when they seem to waiver without warning. Please know that you are not alone in any of this though.

      We hope that you will email us at so we can provide you with some encouragement. It would be an honor to know more of your story, if you feel comfortable telling/sharing it.

      We also hope that you will reach out for professional help, as well. We suggest starting at our Find Help page here:

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  22. Sophie

    These are truly words of wisdom. Thank you so much for sharing them. They are really very beautiful.

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  23. Anonymous

    Im going through this currently this same emotions , this brought some tears of joy to my eyes. I’m floating above the ocean and hopefully I can stay above for a while

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  24. Karen McLane

    I liken my depressive episodes to wave riding too. Sometimes sinking under. Sometimes floating on top. Sometimes swimming with the current. Sometimes against it. I’m glad I’m not the only one using this analogy.

    Reply  |  
  25. Glen

    Hi all,
    I went through a bad period. But I am out of the worst of it. Odd time here and there I get a wave over me like a dampening of mood. And it last seconds to minutes to hours depending on how much I feed into it. I can actually feel the emotion and the change in my mindset. Is this something anyone else has experienced? What is it? Help appreciated.

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  26. Kim


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  27. Joseph McHugh

    thank you for thi

    Reply  |  
  28. Peggy

    I am there with you. Thanks friend.

    Reply  |  
  29. Kelly Myers

    Thank you for this

    Reply  |  
  30. poppy

    I used to dream i was drowning over and over so at 47 i did learn to swim. However i am still drowning i just dont dream about it any more. Instead i dream now that i am lost no coat no shoes no bag no phone. How will i ever get home to be safe maybe i will know peace with my last breath..

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Poppy,

      We hope that when you are feeling as though you are drowning or struggling, you will reach out for help. You can also email our team at when you are in need of encouragement. You’re not alone in this, and we believe you can have peace now.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  31. Nic

    Thanks, this helped.

    Reply  |  
  32. Chris

    I currently feel like this all the time, and I’ve thought of it as waves and how you sum it up is so how it feels, when too many waves come at once then I start to feel sad, upset, anxious, and although I’m not suicidal, I do want to run away, leave everything behind and start again somewhere, I know the depression would follow me, but it’s the depression making me feel like my whole life is the problem, so with that, my thoughts are start a new life, I know that’s not the answer and I’m going to seek help, but thank you for writing what you did, it’s comforting to know that actually someone does understand

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  33. Marina Ago

    Thank you so much for writing this. The last paragraph really touched me to the point where I teared up. I needed to hear this. My depression comes and goes so it is really hard for me to focus on the real issue when there are times where I’m happy in between losing myself in the fact that it’s gone when it’s just lurking. Thank you for writing this. It gave me courage to seek help and keep going.

    Reply  |  
  34. Rajendra Singh

    wonderful expression..

    Reply  |  
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