How Depression Is Like a Shark

Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

My depression is like a hungry shark, swimming through the ocean, searching for food: for a life to take. And when a shark smells blood in the water, he won’t stop until he gets his fill.

Related to sharks, some of the best advice I’ve heard is that if a shark approaches you, do not show fear. Let it swim around, checking things out. If you try and fight it, it will surely fight back. So let it be. But if that shark should attack you, punch it squarely in the nose!

My depression is the same way. When my depression comes around, the more fear I show, the more power I give it. As if I’m giving my depression permission to consume me whole. But if I simply observe my depression as it is, don’t fight it, let it check things out, there is a chance it will swim right past without trying to eat me. And if my depression should smell blood in the water and attack, I need to be prepared to punch and fight my way through its anger and relentlessness, to not succumb to its misery and pain.

When you see the shark approach, or when the depression starts to set in, my first thought is always, “well, here we go. I guess this is the end.” Pure hopelessness takes over. But hopelessness doesn’t help. And if the shark does attack and begins tearing at my flesh, there are times I wish it all would be over — that the pain of depression would just end, by any means.

But continue to fight. There will always be sharks in the sea, and there may always be feelings of depression. Be prepared. They will come. And when they do, I’ll be ready.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

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