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.