Coming Up for Air!

by Owaiz

Have you ever drowned…for like two seconds?

We all have, at one time or another, right? You know that disorienting feeling when water rushes up your nose the second you lose control for a second.

And have you ever drowned? Even drowning for less than 30 seconds, or almost drowning, counts. You know the feeling right? Getting from one side of the pool to another, but suddenly you are so tired. The land is very close, you just have to hold on for 15 seconds, but how do you hold on when your body is too exhausted? There is that moment when you realize you just don’t have the strength. The water currents can push you to edge and you still won’t be able to hold on. You don’t want to drown, your spirits are still high, primal instincts have kicked in, but your body is failing. What do you do then?

It doesn’t matter what you do. You automatically give up and drown. That’s what happens.

Have you tried holding your breath underwater? A friendly competition with friends, perhaps, to see who can hold it the longest? You have every intention of beating them, you know you can do it, but your lungs want air. You fight, you hold on, you wait for others to come up first, but suddenly something – you don’t know what – comes over you and the next thing you know you are out of the water, gasping for air, taking in huge breaths, right?

You lose the competition but it doesn’t matter. You come up for air automatically because you have to. You can’t hold on, you know your limits. Perhaps, if you could come up for some air every now and then, you may be able to hold your breath underwater for a really long time.

It’s kinda the same with depression. People tell you to hold on. They tell you it will get better. They tell you that they know it will get better. ‘I know it will get better.’ And they say it with such conviction that for a moment even you believe that things will get better. But, see, the thing is they have no way of knowing things will get better. If things get better, these people will tell you, ‘I told you so!’ and if they don’t get better, they’ll stand by your corpse and say, ‘I’m glad he’s in peace now. Had a hard life.’ or some variation of that. Because they don’t know.

My point is, we can’t hold on forever. Now and again, we need to come up for air. We can’t hold our breath underwater forever. We can’t keep ourselves afloat forever. The body gets tired eventually, and we have to drown. And it’s okay. It’s okay to drown. They don’t know so they won’t approve, but you know. You know and that’s all that matter. You know, only you know.

People with depression, people like me, we need something good to happen to us too. Something good is something that we consider good, not you. Don’t tell us what good happened to us, what’s good according to you. This is our life, so our rules apply. We can’t keep holding our breath, listening to people telling us to ‘hold on’, that everything will be alright, because we all know what happens when we keep holding on. What happens if you hold your breath under water and don’t come up for air for an hour? You die. Telling us to hold on is no different. Another dilemma, I know.

Light a candle. Let it burn. It’ll melt away but it’ll continue burning. It’ll end up in a pool of liquid wax but it’ll continue burning. But, after some time, the wick will burn up and the flame will go out. There won’t be any wick left. There will be wax but you can’t expect it to burn. You have the fire, you have the fuel, but it won’t burn without the wick. Life won’t go on without some hope. I know people who haven’t had anything good happen to them. They are still alive. But they are barely alive. They go on from one day to the next, on and on, but if you talk to them, you will see that there is nothing beyond the polite greeting. They are empty, dead, nothing to look forward to, no memory to be fond of, nothing at all. Alive, but barely.

You can’t hold your breath under water forever. At some point you will inhale, even if you are under water. You will inhale the water to fill your lungs with something. And then you will die.

Even the candle of hope has to burn out.

Depression is a process of sorts. You are optimistic, but nothing good happens, so you are not as optimistic. It goes on and on until you are no longer optimistic. It becomes about hope then.

You hope a little less each day. You lose a little more hope each day. Then there is no hope left, and you become like those people. Empty. Blank. A living piece of mass with nothing. A zombie. There is nothing to you beyond the polite greeting. You are dead.

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