In times of distress or overwhelm, one natural sensation we can count on is breathing. The breath we inhale as important as the breath we exhale, we make every breath count. As we use this as a gesture of self-help we value the life that flows through our lungs and the control we begin to gain. We allow self-compassion to re-enter our minds and calm the chaos with its peaceful voice of reason, logic, love, and hope. Just breathe.
Not everyday will be easy, and not every moment will be peaceful, but what matters is the fight you put for yourself to continue on in spite of the struggle. Although life may put you in quicksand, remember to be still and let those sorrows pass you. You will then realize you were never sinking. Find peace of mind when you’re alone in a shaky place. Relax your chaos, then rest. You won the battle.
In the first week of May, I visited my closest friend Tati in Syracuse. When I’m with Tati we go on adventures and I have the opportunity to try new daring things I would otherwise pass up. This May I went jogging in six feet of water for the first time. I didn’t know what water jogging was or that it meant going to the deepest part of the pool until we arrived at the YMCA.
Excited to do something different, I tagged along thinking I would be in a pool that was at least four feet because all of my experience with pools consisted of small blow-up kiddie pools. I got this, right? Not at all. At least not at first.
When I walked down the pool steps into the chlorine filled abyss of horror, the water made my legs wobbly but my flotation belt (which helps with the water jogging) helped me stand straight. Instant fear struck and I became paralyzed. I never felt this type of fear before. Tati looked at me concerned because she didn’t know this was my first time in an adult pool. After learning how I afraid I was, she quickly grabbed a small kickboard to help me float. I watched as two young girls, unafraid, swam with confidence and joy. I wish I had the confidence of a child. I felt terrified at first, but after a few moments of Tati explaining to me of my safety I floated to the edge of the pool and began to float along to the deep side. Five feet…then six feet. She explained to me that our bodies will always float but I have to take control of my movements. I used my strength to maneuver my body and muscles into more comfortable positions which meant focusing while I was floating. “When you panic your body tenses and you lose that control,” she said. Water jogging is harder then it looks. It helped to straighten my legs in order to trust that my control of myself will keep me afloat. The more she talked to me the more I began to understand my fear and was able to control my body. I needed to trust the water and trust myself. I WILL ALWAYS FLOAT. As my lesson continued and with Tati’s voice to guide me, I finally got the right rhythm to water jog. My first time in an adult pool and I learned so much!
Water, Anxiety, and Control
How does this relate to my anxiety? An uncontrolled situation fuels my anxiety. My mind escalates situations even before I can decide in what ways I have control and what ways I don’t. The water became my uncontrolled variable. While in the water, I found myself panicking because the water resistance did not allow me to comfortably stand straight or control my immediate movements. In order to stay upright, I needed to focus.
I learned to stay calm and remember I will always float and control what I do. Fighting back the water resistance allowed me to use my abilities and strength to build focus and confidence. Control in water means I’m able to move my body, stay straight, move my arms in ways that helped my head stay above the water. I controlled myself even though there wasn’t immediate support around me. Just me and the water. The moment I felt overwhelmed my body would float in a plank position until I straightened myself and rid my mind of my own anxiety.
I have control because at that moment I realized I’m always in control one way or another. I will always float and I will be okay. Focusing allows my mind to become relaxed. As I trust my element, my situation, and circumstance I will be in control of confidence and calmness. Six feet of water taught me that calmness and focus is what keeps me floating above the water. I will not drown, I will learn to swim. My anxiety will not fool me into believing I do not have control of myself.
It’s been some time since I’ve seen symptoms of my depression. Recently, however, I couldn’t help but notice the old cycles of those symptoms reoccurring and reappearing. I’m sleeping for longer hours, isolating myself, feeling a great sense of irritation and hopelessness and lastly losing my sense of communication.
Since I was young, maybe in my middle school to early high school days, I would go days without speaking to anyone. In those moments I would feel mentally and physically numb. Life would feel like a distant distraction. I didn’t know how to tell others I was struggling, so I stood silent. As I walked around like a lifeless zombie, I was unable to express myself in ways that I usually could. I was silent and unable to speak. Those moments of silence my brain convinced me that I was exaggerating and should suffer in silence. I locked myself up and silently cry.
In other moments, ones that are relatively recent to the past two months, I would even be around people that I love and still have a depressive episode while out in public. Those moments are filled with tears and a closed mouth, onlooking eyes, and judgmental stares of confusion. One thought, one memory, one sense of loneliness can lead to an explosive moment of overwhelming grief. And all I can think about is why. My logical mind is criticizing my reaction while my depression is flooding my mind with thoughts, ideas, and scenarios that are unreasonable and silly. I’m now unable to communicate so instead I push the ones around me away in embarrassment while I run away silenced by my own mental turmoil. What’s wrong with me?
Ending the Silence of Depression
While this phenomenon of silence is not new, I’m doing a better job at noticing the culmination of ideas and thoughts that might lead up to it. In hopes to overcome this reaction, I will communicate more with those that listen to my silent cries and hints. I will talk, ask for help, demand better for myself, and not allow myself to be silenced by my own depressive tendencies.
Depression has a sneaky way of convincing you that your life does not matter and in order to fight those moments of hopelessness, you must have a greater mental toughness to push past those thoughts. Some thoughts might be subtle and sudden, others might linger, but you must always convince yourself that you are a life worth living and listening to. Do not silence yourself in hopes to spare someone else’s irritation or lack of care. There are people who care for you and your well being. Find those people and know who they are.
While I continue to learn through my depression in hopes of overcoming it, I send out good vibes and hope to those who suffer in silence. Don’t silence yourself anymore. Your voice is essential and your life even more so. Fight for your right to be heard through your struggle. Fight for your life because you belong here
I remember the time I was struck with insecurities about who I am.
How I couldn’t explain what I want to do, or who I want to be.
I remember being stuck…
Putting myself down…
After I was done doing a bad job at explaining my interests, I then immediately thought, wow, that’s stupid. What you want is not a thing.
You won’t get anywhere with that. Who does that? You’ve done nothing for yourself to get the unimaginable dream you want to come true.
And as I began to crush my dreams next to tangible accomplishments of the ones around me, I began to shrink. Shrink so small that I couldn’t see myself anymore. I saw myself in the muck and oil of my current state. I began to grab my aching back and bruised arms, rub the pain from my wrist, and throw up blood from the anxiety and the depression.
Then I thought, a hope so big brings people bed ridden for dead back to life. A hope that opens closed eyes and ears. A hope of power that flows and pumps blood to my heart every time. The one time I feel a touch of happiness is when I create something.
While my suffering heart feels myself floating and dispersing into the sea of forgotten faces of capitalistic tendencies, I remember, my dreams is what brought me back to life after my soul left my body..and into an oblivion I went…drowning in fear and regret, I thought I was nothing, but my dreams made me feel something. While my body and soul unite again it’s because of my pencil and my pen.
I remember why my heart started to beat and the oxygen came back into my lungs.
I created something.
Thats what I do.
I’m a motivator for life.
Living is my motto.
I remember I was struck with insecurities about who I am, then I thought one more time…I create to give back the life of those whos bodies have left their souls.
It’s been a difficult few weeks and I find myself getting more and more discouraged so this letter is to me from me with love, affection, power, and strength.
Hey girl! I see you struggling and I know you’re starting to doubt yourself again. I see you starting to not believe in how much you worked and how much you sacrificed to be in the place you’re in now. I see that you’re starting to feel like you aren’t good enough and that you wasted your time in the classroom. I see that you feel invisible and unattractive. I see that you feel trapped, unskilled, and untalented. I see that you feel ashamed that you struggle mentally and you often wonder how it would feel to be “normal” and unafraid of the strains of every day. I see that it takes so much work just to be happy that a new day has come because you feel like you should be successful with opportunity, strength, and power.
But I also see that you gained more strength I’ve ever seen you have before. That you try your hardest and prove to yourself every day that it’s possible to, despite the struggle, regain consciousness of the reality of hope and positivity. And even though things have been difficult, you still seem to always persevere, you seem to always push through. Every obstacle that has come in your way since you were young has never devoured you. When you were grappling with your mental health in high school and college, you always made it past the panic and the tears. You always showed up and showed out even when you didn’t want to. When you didn’t have motivation, when you didn’t want to go to the counseling center or psych services you did. When they took away your financial aid and you almost didn’t go to college things turned around. When you were called weak and told you were unable to reach the standards of your major in high school, you showed that you were, you were tossed from one choir to another, but you still showed that you were good enough. When you were on conditional in a program you wanted to be in so bad, you made that conditional a permanent. And all the times you were outcasted and alone, when you were by yourself you always sparkled with power, self-control, and self-respect. This is not even half of the things you struggle with, but its shows a lot about how much you’ve overcome.
You are beautiful, worthy, and strong. Only strength can endure all that you have gone through and still have the courage to want to tell other people that they can do anything despite the world telling them that they can’t because of their gender, beliefs, sexuality, or any other identity marker that makes them who they are. You are okay and you will continue to be okay. Just take deep breaths and raise your head. Your life is not for no reason. You have a reason to keep trying to do your best.
From the one that loves you the most,
So, even though it may seem blurry right now and you don’t want to be positive, try to be kind to yourself. Always be kind to yourself. Turn the negative self-talk phrases into encouraging ones. Make your perception light, even if your circumstance is dark and smudged. Even when you have all the reasons to be hopeless, let hope blossom instead.