The Mighty Logo

When You Get Crushed by Depression's Wave

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

It’s like standing in the surf of the ocean. On some days, the sun is shining brightly, the waves are minuscule and the water is warm. On other days, the sun is nowhere to be seen, the water is frigid, and every wave seems to come crashing down on me, submerging my entire being and making my body numb.

The large waves repeatedly crashing down on me is one way to describe my depression.

I found myself trying to stand tall and withstand the mighty force of every consecutive wave; I didn’t want to be knocked off my feet and submerged underwater, fighting to figure out which way is up so I could refill my lungs with new, fresh air.

Depression makes you feel weak.

It takes you right from under your feet until you fall hard and uncontrollably into the
crashing waves. Of course everyone encounters big, strong waves every now and again; it’s just a natural part of being human. We all have our own setbacks. However, whenever I struggled with a tough bout of depression, every wave that knocked me down sent me 10 steps backward. Once my feet were out from under me, I couldn’t tell which way was up, which way lead to air. A part of me longed to get fresh air quickly, but simultaneously I moved in slow motion, as the harsh waves tumbled me around like dirty laundry in a washing machine. I could see and feel my body being thrown around slowly under the water’s surface while the water itself moved at three times the speed of my own thoughts, sights and my body itself. Nothing I did brought me closer to the surface and
I began to lose interest and hope in finding the surface of the rough surf.

Luckily, every now and then I would see a small glimmer of sunlight, leading me to the surface and to the air. I would then slowly rise to my feet again, this time just slightly stronger than the last. I would stand for a while, enjoying the calm, small
waves, and later brace myself during the stormy and angry waves which tried its best to knock me down once more.

After falling once, I could withstand a stronger force.

Eventually a much bigger and much stronger wave would hit me unexpectedly and hurl my body into the ferocious waves, sending me further from the shoreline. The previous cycle would repeat: I fall down, hard, try to fight the turbulent, roaring waves, eventually lose hope in ever finding the surface, regaining hope, and finally standing up on my feet once more.

Like the angry waves, depression knocks you hard off your feet. Maybe you lose a loved one, survive a traumatic event, or maybe, like in my case, you’ve been strong for too long and you’ve finally reached your breaking point. Whatever it is, it’s not fun. Once you’re knocked down, you try tremendously hard to fight it, to push forward and to persevere.
Sometimes you can brush it off. But struggling with depression makes this option near impossible.

You may eventually lose hope. I never thought I’d ever truly (not fake) smile ever again. I didn’t see a point in living and had no hope of anything getting better. Know this: things will get better. Time will pass, and nothing is permanent. You can seek therapy, be prescribed medicine and soon once again find the hope you’ve lost for so terribly long.

The hope allows you to see a small spark of light. Now you can start to see and believe
that yes, things indeed will get better. Once you recover from a depressive episode, another one is bound to hit you again. I know how horrible that sounds, but guess what?

You’ll be stronger than the last time you were knocked down.

You can withstand a greater force, and therefore it’s harder and harder to get knocked down. Before you know it, you’ll be standing up strong amongst the waves crashing down on the beach’s sand.

You’re not invincible, but you’re stronger than ever.

Don’t ruin the present by worrying about what might occur in the future. Yes, bad things are bound to happen to each and every one of us, but you definitely shouldn’t waste away a beautiful now thinking about a tainted future that might not even happen. Always remember there is help. Just like at the beach, if you get unexpectedly pulled underwater, there are lifeguards, friends and other beach-goers to help you resurface, in real life if you are struggling, there are many hotlines you can call, friends you can talk with, and therapists you can see to help you resurface from the scary and dark state of depression.

Remember things will get better. You will once again fill your lungs with air, you will see and believe in hope, and you will smile again. Experiencing depression will make you that much stronger for the next time it comes around and tries to knock you off your feet. Stay strong, find help and keep your hope.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally published: June 25, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home