September 4, 2015
So, I was depressed for most of August and part of July. I finally started creeping out of it near the end of August. What did it feel like during this time?
Imagine sitting in a small 12' flat bottom fishing boat (which is usually used for creeks, rivers and stream fishing). There's no motor attached, not even a tiller motor, which has the motor about the size of weed whacker or string line trimmer. The only things in the boat with you are one gallon of water and 4 protein bars.
You look out around you to get a grasp on what is happening. For as far as you can see there is water and blue sky, with the sun shinning bright above you. No where is there land to be found. You look back at your supplies, a gallon of water and four protein bars.
OK, you know you have to seriously look at how you will have to ration your supplies. You don't know how long it will be before someone can find you.
The first day you are optimistic that someone will find you. You figure it's OK to eat half of one of the bars and you sip the water slowly. You think you have enough supplies for a week, sure you'll need medical attention if it really takes that long for them to find you, but it's not going to be that long.
After a couple days have gone by your optimism begins to fade. You've seen planes fly over continually and have even seen a few boats off in the distance. Why couldn't they see you? You were even able to stand up and wave your arms, yet still nothing.
You realize you've been stranded now for what must be a week and you've run out of your supplies. You're in luck though, off in the distance you see something. It's floating on the water. Something new in sight has given you a burst of excitement and renewed energy. You just have to find out what is floating near you. You pull together your strength and gently lean over and try to paddle your way over. For what seems like hours, you have finally moved your boat to the object.
To your excitement it is a boat oar. You reach for the oar slowly, trying not to tip the boat. Every muscle in your body aches from your paddling workout causing you to shake uncontrollably. You know that without this oar to help you move you could be stranded in the boat for whatever remains of your life. Cautiously, you finally touch the oar, but even your gentle touch moves it farther from you.
Paddling a little more, that's what you must do. So, that's what you do. This time the oar comes right up to the edge of the boat. Excitedly, you grab the oar removing it from the never-ending surrounding water.
Exhausted, you clutch the oar and lean back in the boat. Quickly you remember there is nothing for you to lean on behind you. Jerking forward the boat rocks violently. Slowly, you regain balance in the boat. You'd never thought about how difficult it was to move around in a boat before without tipping it over.
The energy you expressed to gain the paddle left you spent. Carefully, you lower yourself from the seat to the bottom of the boat. Still clutching the oar in your arms you lay down for some rest. Without food and water your body is now using every bit of excess energy it has consumed over the years. You can tell you've lost weight and the hunger pangs have left you. You are now feeling hollow inside, just waiting for a little energy to use the paddle you're just acquired.
September 15, 2015
The weight of your eyelids seemed to have increased while you were sleeping. Trying to open them is difficult and painful. You can't remember when you ate last but are weakly still clutching the oar. Laying in the bottom of the boat, you look up at the sky. You've never seen the stars like this. During your time stranded on the boat you've had plenty of time to think about everything in your life. The stars have been one such thing. How could you have lived and not realize how many there really are in the black sky above. How beautiful they were your first night on the boat and how lonely they are now.
Sitting up in the bottom of the boat you cry uncontrollably as you realize how alone you are. You don't remember the last time you spoke with someone or even when you saw another person. Surrounded by the never-ending water and sky, you think about how easy it is to give up. It really wouldn't be very difficult at this point. You're sure if someone ever found you, they would understand that you just couldn't take this any longer. The emptiness inside is so overwhelming that you seriously think that all you need do to is climb over the edge of your little boat.
You wonder if anyone has realized you're missing. Has anyone noticed you weren't there the other day? Do they really care?
As you sit pondering the value of your life the sky begins to lighten and the stars fade away. The sun slowly enters the horizon behind you. The black sky changes before your eyes. The beauty of the new day's colors capture your mind for a moment.
As the progression of the sunrise increases a burning sensation overcomes you. At this point you've realized you are completely sunburned. The salt water spraying up off the small splashing on the boat stings as if someone was pouring alcohol all over you.
It's time to try again. Now that you have an oar, maybe you can find someone to help you, or land, just some way out of this pit of emptiness in the middle of this never-ending ocean.
One small stroke at a time you hope that you're actually moving. You cannot tell if you're really making any progress since there is nothing to base your location on, but you keep going; one small, weak, what you feel is a pathetic stroke of the oar at a time.
November 5, 2015
You slowly paddle for what seems like hours. Never knowing if your going anywhere. How could this have happened to you? What did you ever do to deserve this? Questions run through your mind as you try to figure out what to do next. Is this real? Maybe it's just a bad dream.
Stroke after stroke you try to be hopeful. Could there be land somewhere near you? All you can still see is water and sky.
You begin to wonder how many days it has been now. Your days are blurred together. After paddling for what seems like hours you take a break. You know it hasn't been very long, but you're exhausted. Remembering what happened before you slowly shift yourself to the bottom of the boat. You have no energy left to fight, or paddle. Curling up, you close your eyes and drift off to sleep.
Time has no reality in your world. What seems like minutes could be hours, or what seems like hours could be minutes. When you open your eyes you think you hear something. Could it be someone? Peeking your eyes over the edge of the boat you hope to see land. To your surprise, you see your friend in a boat next to you.
"How did you get here?" you ask. Were they in a boating accident?
"We had plans, don't you remember?" She's dressed and ready to go out with a confused look on her face.
"Plans, what plans?"
"We're supposed to go see a movie, remember?"
"Do you see where we are?"
"Uh, yeah. So get up and lets go." She stands up in her boat and looks prepared to leave.
"I can't go out. We're suck in the middle of nowhere. Can't you see that?"
"It's all in your head, you're fine."
"It's not in my head. We're stranded in the middle of some ocean. There's no where to go."
"If you're not going, I'll go without you." She turns away from you and steps off the boat, disappearing.
"NO!" yelling as you reach to try to stop her. Bracing yourself you look again at her boat. It's gone. How could it be gone? The boat is gone, your friend is gone, was it real?
You have come to the conclusion that this must have been a hallucination. What is real?
The time that you have spent in the boat has exhausted every part of your being. Still sitting on the bottom of the boat, you position yourself once again, as to not tip it while you rest. Your mind starts to wander once again.
You think back to when this all began. Trying to remember how you got into this situation, you pull memories from the past few days. There are questions that have not been answered. Your memories are blurred together with what your life was before this. You still have no recollection of how you ended up stranded in this boat.
It becomes apparent to you that these things no longer matter. How could they? It won't change the situation. You are done trying. Laying on the bottom of the boat you stare at the oar. Why did you even find this if it wouldn't get you anywhere?
Anger fills your entire being as you realize you spent all your energy using it, trying to get somewhere, to no avail.
"Forget it!" you tell yourself, "it's not worth it!"
You close your eyes hoping and praying that this is all a bad dream.
Something new happens. You wake to a noise. Is that another boat you hear? You've been dreaming, maybe it was just part of a vivid dream. Pulling what strength you have left you open your eyes. The sunlight burns so you squint to try to focus on the boat you now call home. You're sure it was nothing, the noise was in your dream.
Then you hear it again. It's a motor. You're almost positive it's all in your head, this isn't real. You've been stuck in this boat for what seems like eternity, no one will ever find you. Sitting up you realize you're wrong. You see a large white yacht next to your boat. Surprised, you lead to touch it to make sure it's real.
Yes, it is real. Someone is yelling something to you from above. You haven't heard another voice for days.
"What are you doing down there?" the voice yells.
You no longer have a voice, other than the one in your head, so you cannot reply. You begin to wave frantically, hoping someone would get you off the boat.
Sitting in the cabin of the yacht, the man hands you a bottle of water. It's been days since you've had anything drinkable. The stinging of the water reminds you that you're alive as you swallow your first drink.
"How long have you been out here?" he asks.
"I don't know," you reply shrugging your shoulders.
"Why didn't you just use the oar and paddle your way to shore? It's not even half a mile away."
"You should have tried harder."
Thinking about what you've just been through you cannot imagine why he was treating you like this. It wasn't like you weren't trying to find land, you were. Tears well up in your eyes as you realize that it seemed so easy to him that you could find your way to land, to get home, but it wasn't. It took everything you had just to get through each day.
Depression is much like this story. Some days you feel like your stranded in the middle of an ocean without an oar. Some days you are trying to get better. Then some days you just get through the day, one hour at a time. These days are frustrating and confusing not for just the person with the depression, but for those around that do not understand it's not a choice. For those of us that have dealt with depression for years, and years, we know it's not easy to get back on land. Sometimes it can take days or weeks to find our way back to a good place.
I originally started this story on September 4, it's now two months later November 5 and I've finally been able to finish. I've removed it from my blog and put the three parts together because I feel it would be a better read for someone since the blogs go backwards in dated posts.
If someone you know has depression, please don't think you need to remind them to think positive or smile and pretend you're happy then everything will be fine. It's not always a matter of pretending you're happy to be happy. Faking it sometimes makes it last longer for me. Let me get through the depression I'm in so I can have a better "good" day.