Which way is up?

[CN: Reference to drowning, depression]

I wrote this a few months ago. I didn’t share it then because I wasn’t in the right head space to do so. I’m in a better head space now, and I know which way is up. So, I’ve decided to share this post in the hopes that people who experience similar feelings of nothingness get to know that they’re not alone.

Which way is up?

I once heard a man describe his experience of depression as “looking up and seeing the bottom”. Truthfully, I am somewhat envious of his experience.

I’m not trying to minimise that man’s experience, but he knew which way was up. That is an awesome thing. I wish I knew which way is up. At the moment, I’m just sort of floating in never-ending nothingness with no real idea of which way is up. I would be able to aim towards something if I knew which direction to point myself in.

When I was in my early teens, I had the misfortune of almost drowning in the ocean. I was silly. I swam out too far in low tide, and high tide came suddenly. Wave after wave pounded me. I struggled to figure out which way to swim in order to reach the surface. Emotionally, this feels the same. I don’t know which way is up. I don’t know what to work towards.

Goal Setting, but without a starting point

I believed that I had finally reached a stage where I knew what my goals were, but I thought wrong. This means that I need to revise my goals, but I’m not sure where to start.

It’s not completely hopeless. Starting again means that everything that I build can be intentional. This time, I can plan carefully and think things through more methodically. Maybe the new goals I set will be better than my previous ones? I don’t know whether it’s possible to decide that with any certainty. But, I do know something for certain. While I’m setting new goals, I want to ensure they don’t depend on the actions of other people.

That doesn’t mean to say that I’m writing off all people forever. I still care deeply about many people, and I want to maintain the friendships I have and build new friendships in future. I just don’t really feel as though I have the ability to link my goals to those of others. I’m not sure that I’m explaining that well enough, but that’s the best I have.

Would I cure my depression if I could?

I honestly can’t say. I mean, I would love to not have to deal with the nothingness. I’m envious of people who seem to be able to just bounce back from disappointment. But, my brain is my brain. I like my brain, for the most part. If I change this one part, will it effect the other parts?

As for what I would like to change, I would like to change society’s view on depression. For me, I would love to be able to seek help in a way that doesn’t involve doctors treating my brain as diseased. I know that many people would say that depression is an illness, but I would like the opportunity where the things that cause me distress are addressed before I’m written off as ill. In addition, I would like medication to be offered, but not forced. I would like doctors to be more open to discussing potential side effects so that informed consent can truly be informed.

I know that I will find my balance again because I’ve found it many times before. Maybe this time the balance will stick because this particular process has been one of the most difficult. This feeling of failure has been one of the biggest, and one of the most unanticipated. So, this process of slowly coming back to me might take longer than the previous ones, but it might be more worthwhile in the end.